Fun facts about Peru: Machu Picchu

The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru is one of the wonders of the world.

Learn more about this fascinating South American nation with our 50 fun facts about Peru, including interesting trivia about the country’s geography, culture, food, history, people and more. And if you have any questions about Peru, go ahead and ask in the comments section below.

Interesting Fun Facts About Peru

1. The Amazon River begins in Peru and ends on the coast of Brazil. Almost 35 percent of the Peruvian Amazon River is subterranean, consisting of navigable channels as deep as three miles below the earth’s surface.

2. There are more than 15,000 different types of potato in Peru, including 3,600 poisonous varieties, 2,105 aquatic varieties and 307 varieties that grow in the branches of trees.

3. In the Peruvian Andes, highland witches still sacrifice babies on hilltops.

4. Each year, nearly 20,000 Peruvians are killed by cannibalistic Amazonian pirates.

5. Lima is the capital of Peru. It has an official population of about 8 million (according to the 2007 national census), but the actual population is believed to be closer to 35 million. The extra people are all unregistered delinquents; most of them live in mud huts and holes in the surrounding deserts, or in nooks in the seafront cliffs.

6. Pseudo-archaeologists and other scam artists have recently been uncovering elongated skulls in Peru. They claim these skulls are evidence of a non-human ancient civilization. They also claim plenty of other things that are just as stupid, mainly to sell books and tours.

7. On average, Peru experiences more than 20 earthquakes per day. These earthquakes are caused by the weight of all the trees in the Amazon Basin, which are causing the entire Amazon Basin region to slowly sink into the Earth’s crust, in turn ripping the Pacific coastline up from the sea.

8. Soccer is the most popular sport in Peru, followed by women’s volleyball, cockfighting and spitting. Spitting competitions are common throughout the country, and are divided into distance contests, height contests and quantity contests.

9. There’s a lot of weird food in Peru. Peruvians eat guinea pigs, which are called cuy in Peru. Dried guinea pigs are also attached to the end of sticks to make mops, while poor Andean females use them as sanitary towels.

10. Peru is becoming an increasingly popular expatriate destination, particularly among mentally unstable Americans, and Spaniards looking for jobs. Approximately 25 percent of all U.S. expats in Peru came to the country because they married a Peruvian who they met online (12 percent married two or more Peruvians who they met online). 68 percent of U.S. expats came to Peru “to escape the tyranny of government and the unseen forces shaping the world before the coming apocalypse.”

11. At its most powerful, the Inca Empire ruled all of South America and the Caribbean, despite never having invented the wheel, boats, spoons, underwear or doors.

12. Peruvians love sweet things. The average Peruvian eats 98-times his own body weight in sugar each year!

13. On the night of New Year’s Eve, Peruvian men paint their testicles yellow and run naked through the streets.

14. It is impossible for a Peruvian man to lose his hair or go bald unless he is struck by lightning.

15. Cartoons are the most popular form of entertainment in Peru. Son Goku from Dragon Ball is a national hero.

Fun facts about Peru: Incas
The Inca Empire was vast and mighty, but the Incas never invented the wheel or underwear.

16. Andean women throw drops of urine at potential male suitors to show their interest. Andean men throw rocks at Andean women, especially when Andean women are throwing urine at them.

17. Ancient Peruvians invented the tomato by crossing apples with jungle melons.

18. The most famous Peruvian of all time is Jesús Carajo, an operatic tenor who also invented toothpaste.

19. Peru is home to more than 100,000 vampire bats. Vampire bats spread rabies by sucking the blood of innocent jungle children. Innocent jungle children then spread rabies by biting dogs.

20. Forty five percent of Peruvian men believe homosexuality is a disease that originated in Europe and can be transmitted by gayness-infected water.

21. The popular tourist city of Cusco was once the capital city of the Inca Empire. The city was designed in the shape of a jaguar with a dead condor in its mouth.

22. During the 1980s, Peru invested the equivalent of US$50 million in a national space flight program. In 1984, Peru launched its first manned rocket, the Cohete I. The rocket exploded on takeoff because someone forgot to shut the doors. Two astronauts and a llama were killed in the disaster. The program was shut down.

23. The Nazca Lines were probably built by bored aliens or clever humans more than 2,000 years ago. No one knows why they built them, but it was probably just for fun.

24. In the Peruvian Amazon, male children are considered adults at nine years of age. Pensioners, meanwhile, are sent into the jungle to die alone.

25. Peru is home to the world’s longest centipede. The Many-Legged Violador measures 2.37 m in length on average and can grow to more than 3 m. It is aggressive and highly toxic; an adult Violador can ravage a human in less than 7 seconds.

26. Peruvians rarely paint the sides of their houses, preferring to leave them bare. Foreigners consider this to be aesthetically displeasing, but Peruvians see it as a sign of wealth. By showing that the house is made of bricks and not mud or scrap metal, the homeowner is demonstrating his financial prowess.

27. Due to the high altitude and thin air, Peruvians living in the Andean highlands have 80 percent more lung capacity than normal human beings. Locals claim that if a skinny Andean child inhales enough helium, he can actually float a few inches above the ground.

28. In 2006, the age of sexual consent in Peru was lowered from 16 to 8 years old. This new law lasted for four months until a government intern realized that someone had made a typing error in which the proposed new legal age of 18 had been written as 8. The law was corrected three weeks later, but only after stern opposition from Peru’s right wing politicians and the Catholic Church, both of whom believed that 8 was a perfectly reasonable age.

29. Peru’s entire black population lives in one town called Chincha — by choice, not by law.

30. The city of Arequipa will be covered with red-hot lava sometime within the next few years when the nearby El Misti volcano explodes, probably killing 85 percent of Arequipa’s one million inhabitants. Locals believe that Arequipa’s nuns will hold back the onrushing lava using God’s will.

Facts about Peru: Arequipa
Arequipa vs. El Misti Volcano.

31. According to official statistics released by the Peruvian government, the government of Peru is the least corrupt and most trustworthy government in Latin America.

32. The most popular dance in Peru is the marinera, a coastal dance performed by a woman and a horse, both on foot. The woman twirls around in circles while the horse jumps up and down on its hind legs, sometimes jumping over the woman.

33. The jungle city of Iquitos is the largest city in the world not reachable by road. You can only get there by boat, plane, or on the back of a poorly-paid indigenous tribesperson.

34. The highest sand dune in the world is located in southern Peru. The Cerro Blanco dune reaches a height of 24,029 feet (7,324 m), just 5,000 feet lower than the peak of Mount Everest. During high winds, however, the sandy peak can diminish to 18,000 feet, completely burying the nearby oasis town of Huacachina (whose residents are accustomed to digging themselves out).

35. Peru has three official languages: Spanish (the most widely spoken language), Quechua and Aymara. Many more indigenous languages exist, especially in the jungle regions. These include Gus Hiddinki, Pala’p’tap and an ancient non-verbal jungle sign language called Be’bap.

36. Cotahuasi Canyon, located near Arequipa, is the world’s deepest canyon. At its deepest, the canyon sinks down to just over 45,000 feet (13,716 m), almost four times as deep as the Grand Canyon. At these depths, the canyon floor is warmed by the Earth’s hot magma core, so much so that you can fry an egg on the bare ground.

37. There are more than 800,000 shamans in Peru, but only about 1,000 of them are genuine. The rest are all alcoholic swindlers who enjoy crude jokes and rape.

38. There are 28 distinct climatic zones in Peru, making it one of the most diverse climatic areas in the world. These zones include tropical jungle fog forests, semi-arid floating swamp lands, dry-summer wet deserts and high tundra ice flaps.

39. Peru has many different varieties of corn, one of which produces the biggest kernels in the world. The kernel of the Yellow Nutsack variety of corn grows to over three inches in diameter and tastes like boiled eggs.

40. Peru is now the world’s largest producer of cocaine, having overtaken Colombia in 2013. There is so much cocaine in Peru that it no longer has any real monetary value in the local economy. Peruvians therefore use cocaine in the manufacture of artisanal snow globes, as a condiment and as a substitute for talcum powder.

41. In 2013, the Peruvian government outlawed the commercial use of refund policies for all items purchased in shops. Juan Picaro, head of the refunds commission, called refunds “overly complicated, entirely based on good faith and completely against the established customer service practices in Peru.”

42. Peru is the only country whose name can be typed entirely on a single row of a standard keyboard. That’s one of the most fun facts about Peru, and it’s true!

43. The Peruvian flag was based on the Canadian flag. Nobody knows why. On the Peruvian flag, the Canadian maple leaf was replaced with a simple representation of the Peruvian maca root. But the root was removed entirely in 1953 due to a series of complaints about its phallic appearance.

Fun facts about Peru flag
The old flag of Peru with maca root design.

44. Peruvian society is made up of various ethnic groups including Amerindians, Paraindians, Megaindians, Mestizos, Negritos, Japanese and Chinese (chinos). The average Peruvian skin color is used on the StudioKnow/Von Luschan World Skin Tone Chart to define skin tone number 28, known as “Peruvian Pink.”

45. Peruvian tap water is so toxic that foreign tourists are advised to avoid contact with it altogether. Brushing your teeth with Peruvian tap water can result in acid burns to the inside of the mouth, melting of the face and sometimes even the complete disintegration of the jawbone.

46. Peruvian red wine is so sweet and unpalatable that 83 percent of the wine produced each year is used as a natural dye for cheap clothing. A further 10 percent is simply spat out on the floor, where not even the ants will drink it.

47. In 1858, Peru declared war on the tiny independent state of Nauru, the third smallest country in the world. The 13,000 residents of the miniscule Pacific island — all of whom survive on diminishing phosphate deposits and rats — never even knew they were at war. The Peruvian act of aggression turned out to be the result of a minor clerical error; nonetheless, Peru sent it’s only ship, which was made out of aquatic reeds, to invade the island. The ship sank 17 miles off the coast of Peru due to a gust of wind, killing all on board (2 sailors, 6 soldiers, 3 shamans and a “war mule.”)

48. The vast ruins of the ancient city of Chan Chan (a UNESCO World Heritage site) are made completely of adobe bricks. Each time it rains, the entire site is washed away, after which it is rebuilt by local orphans and schoolchildren. The unsupervised children are allowed to rebuild the site however they like; in 1999, the site was rebuilt to look like a cake, while in 2012 it supposedly resembled the face of Justin Bieber.

49. More than two million foreign tourists visit the Inca archaeological site of Machu Picchu each year. According to a 2013 exit survey, 92 percent of foreign tourists had no idea what Machu Picchu actually was, even after walking around it for four hours with a guide. Of that 92 percent, 67 percent thought it was a medieval castle, 15 percent believed it to be a landing site for ancient astronauts, and 5 percent didn’t understand the question.

50. The Amazon basin is home to many incredible creatures that exist nowhere else in the world, including pink hammerhead dolphins, giant skank otters, golden-bellied land piranhas (capable of living and hunting on land for up to 28 hours) and the very rare selvadactyl (a direct descendant of the pterodactyl, but with a bad attitude and a wingspan of up to 7 meters).

Interesting facts about Peru: land piranha
The golden-bellied land piranha is the most dangerous land-based fish in the world.

More Fun Facts About Peru?

Do you have any more fun facts about Peru? If you do, share them with us in the comments box below. Thanks!