Andean peaks surround Machu Picchu; lush tropical rainforests, Amazonian jungles, sandy beaches, arid deserts, remote farmland and fishing villages make up the Peruvian landscape. Likewise, Peru’s cuisine is rich in variety and has influences from Spanish, Chinese, European, African, and Japanese cultures. Peru’s people are also diverse: Quechua Indian—descendants of the Incas—mestizos (part-Indian and part-European) and people of Spanish ancestry.
Peruvians are known for their warmth and generous displays of affection. Parents also tend to be protective of their children and expect to be asked permission to go out with friends and abide by any curfews they set. Peruvians’ sense of privacy differs from some other cultures, and time spent with family is usually preferred over private time. They also have different expectations for their sons than for their daughters. Peruvian girls have less freedom than girls from most European and North American countries.
In their free time and on weekends, young Peruvians get together with friends to watch movies, dance or hang out in the town square or at a local café. Students also get involved in community run sports and activities.
Peruvians wear many types of clothing depending on their region and social class. Generally, Western-style clothes are worn in urban areas such as Lima, and traditional clothes are common elsewhere. Students are required to wear uniforms to school.
Peruvian cuisine is known for its rich variety and for its ability to incorporate influences from different cultures, including Spanish, Chinese, European, African and Japanese. Ingredients popular in traditional Peruvian dishes are rice, potatoes, chicken, pork, lamb and fish. Most of these meals include aji, a popular Peruvian hot pepper.
Lunch and dinner are the two largest meals of the day. Breakfast is usually quick and light: milk, coffee, bread, juice and cheese. Some families also enjoy having an afternoon snack. It is customary for guests to sample everything offered to them.
Spanish is the official language, and Quechua is officially acknowledged as a second language. Additionally, Aymara is recognized as a regional language. The majority of the population is Roman Catholic.