The land of gold and of the sun-worshipping Incas, Peru was sixteenth-century Europe's major source of treasure and once the home of the largest empire in the Americas. Since then, the riches of the Incas have fuelled the world's imagination, although much of the country's appeal lies in the sheer beauty of its landscapes, the abundance of wildlife and the strong, colourful character of the people.
Ancient ruins only hint at the first chapter of the story. Although the bloody Spanish Conquest shattered the traditional Inca world in the 1500s, the legacy of ancient cultures is still very much alive. Roughly half of Peru's 23 million people are of pure Indian origin, often living in remote mountain villages. They still speak the Quechua or Aymara tongue of their ancestors and many of their beliefs and customs are a mixture of traditional Andean ways and the culture brought by the Spanish conquistadors. Peru remains one of the world's great travel destinations. Come experience the mystic!