Peru, in western South America, extends for nearly 1,500 mi (2,414 km) along the Pacific Ocean. Colombia and Ecuador are to the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east, and Chile to the south. Five-sixths the size of Alaska, Peru is divided by the Andes Mountains into three sharply differentiated zones. To the west is the coastline, much of it arid, extending 50 to 100 mi (80 to 160 km) inland? The mountain area, with peaks over 20,000 ft (6,096 m), lofty plateaus, and deep valleys, lies centrally. Beyond the mountains to the east is the heavily forested slope leading to the Amazonian plains.

Peru is one of 10 mega-diverse countries of the world, with hundreds of endemic species of flora and fauna; a paradise for bird watching and orchid spotting, or the exploration of remote and mythical natural landscapes, some still pristine virgin lands teeming with life.

Lima is the capital and largest city of Peru. It was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535 as la Ciudad de los Reyes, or “The City of Kings”.

Peru is divided into 25 regions and the province of Lima. Each region has an elected government composed of a president and a council, which serves for a four-year term.

Peru is a developing country with a market-oriented economy. It is the world’s top producer of silver, second in zinc, third in copper and tin, fourth in lead, and sixth in gold. Mineral exports have consistently accounted for the most significant portion of Peru’s export revenue, the contribution being 61% in 2009.

Peru is an international leader in fishing, producing nearly 10 percent of the world’s total fish catch. Fishing currently accounts for roughly 3.5 percent of GDP and, because it is not a labor-intensive industry, employs approximately 80,000 people.

Peru is not exactly a haven for efficiency. Do not expect things to be on time, or exactly as they intend to be. Outside of the more upscale tourist services and big cities like Lima, English is uncommon and the people, trying to be friendly, can give wrong or inexact advice, a translator can always be helpful in this cases. Plan ahead and leave plenty of time for traveling.