1. The flag of Peru was adopted in 1824. It’s a tri-panel flag: red-white-red with the coat of arms in the central white panel. The coat of arms includes a vicuña, a quina tree, and a gold cornucopia. The red in the flag represents the blood spilled in the fight for independence and the white stands for peace and bravery.
2. Peru became independent from Spain on July 28, 1821. The War for Independence lasted from 1811-1824.
3. The largest city in Peru is Lima. Lima is also known as The City of the Kings, The Three-Times Crowned Villa, The Pacific Pearl, and Lima the Grey. It has 43 districts and a population of 10,852,210 as of 2016.
4. The national tree of Peru is the cinchona, and at least six species grow in Peru. The tree gets its name from the Countess of Cinchon, wife of the viceroy of Peru. In 1683, she came down with malaria, but she recovered after being treated with a tea made from the bark of the cinchona tree which contains quinine. Quinine is an important medicine in treating malaria. The tree is also known as Jesuit’s Bark or Peruvian Bark.
5. Ancient Peruvians would often bury food with their dead, believing that it would help sustain them on their journey to the next life. The Aymara, around Lake Titicaca, still stuff coca leaves in potatoes and bury them as a sacrifice to the Earth Mother, Pachamama.
6. Nine cities in the United States are named “Peru:” There is a Peru in Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, Vermont, Nebraska, and New York.
7. At its peak, the Incan Empire was larger than the Roman Empire and boasted 24,855 miles (40,000 km) of roads. A network of chasquis (runners) kept the kingdom connected, relaying fresh-caught fish from the coast to Cuzco in 24 hours.
8. The ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu was discovered in 1911 by explorer, professor, and archaeologist Hiram Bingham who was acting as leader of the Yale Peruvian Scientific Expedition. An estimated 1.5 million tourists visit Machu Picchu each year.
9. The oldest occupation of man in the Americas is traced back to the sacred City of Caral-Supe a few hours north of the capital Lima. The 626 hectare (1546 acre) site dates back 5000 years.
10. Peru has 1625 types of orchids, 425 of which can be found growing naturally close to Machu Picchu. The Inkaterra Hotel in Machu Picchu has South America’s largest privately-owned collection at 500 varieties.
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