Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Information about Peru

It's the multiple layers of great civilizations which makes Peru so fascinating. You can wander around colonial cities which have preserved the legacy of the Spanish conquistadors, visit the ancient Incan capital of Cuzco, explore the lost city of Machu Picchu and ponder the enigma of the Nazca Lines (answers on a postcard please). You don't have to be in Peru too long to realize that the "New World" had a rich and complex cultural life thousands of years before Pizarro turned up wearing funny clothing.
People in Peru All of this exists in a country with some of the most spectacular and varied scenery in South America. The Peruvian Andes are arguably the most beautiful on the continent and the mountains are home to millions of highland Indians who still speak the ancient tongue of Quechua and maintain a traditional way of life. The verdant Amazon Basin, which occupies half of Peru, is one of the world's top 10 biodiversity `hot spots' - a species-rich area of tropical rainforest that will make your head spin when you start to learn about its ecology. And the coastal deserts, with their huge rolling dunes, farmland oases and fishing villages, are underappreciated by travelers but offer the opportunity to get off the Gringo Trail in a big way. But you don't have to be a zoologist, an anthropologist or a mountain climber to enjoy Peru, all you need is a keen eye, a love of landscape, an interest in history and a very good money belt.
Capital city of Chachapoyas. Close to the famed Jungle Kuelap Ruins, Moyobamba. Known for its 2,500 varieties of orchids.
The "White City" located in the southern highlands, 7,740 fect above sea level on the slopes of the Misti Volcano. Second largest city in Peru. Crammed with Spanish Colonial and Andalusian influences and architecture. The Santa Catalina Convent, Goyeneche Palace and the Casa del Moral are some of its most interesting sites. Beautiful countryside in the surrounding area. The awesome nearby Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon! Visitors can make short one-day visits to the Colca, take a week-long trek (year around) or descend the river by kayak or raft, June thru September. The latter only for professionals ! Safer rafting can also be undertaken along the nearby calm Majes River, wandering through wonderful scenery, close to numerous archaeological sites. Apart from the Panamerican Highway, there are numerous flights daily from/to Lima (75 mins.), Cuzco (35 mins.) and Juliaca (25 mins.)
Rain Forest Landscape Ayacucho,
The Andean "Town of Churches", which is some times said to have more of them than houses ! Beautiful architecture ! A location with exquisite handicraft, including pottery, leatherwork, textiles and jewelery. One of the most important centers of Peru's long historical background. A 45 min daily flight from Lima.
Located in the Northern Highlands it is famed for its traditional churches, and natural hot springs, such as the "Banos del Inca" (Inca Baths). The famous "Rescue Room" which Inka Athahualpa was forced by Conqueror Francisco Pizarro to fill with gold and silver, in an effort to save his life (didn't work, they killed him anyway!) is also located here.
A lovely town famous for its cuisine with around 35,000 inhabitants, located on the South Panamerican Highway, 830kilometers from Lima, just beyond Nazca and shortly before Arequipa. Camana is situated on the coast in an agricultural valley, with a river that produces the most delicious “camarones” (shrimp) in the country ! During summer its 40 kms of beaches are host to large numbers of bathers from all around, especially from Arequipa. Underwater and over water sports are most popular here. Closeby you will find an Archaeological Museum and “Las Bodeguillas”, caves which were used - it is said - to hideway treasures brought down from Cuzco Inca Temples.
A small easily reached sleepy town south of Lima, close to several other similar locations in the Lunahuana valley. Ideal for rafting, down the Canete River. Accessible via the Southern branch of the Panamerican Highway. Tasty down-to-earth cuisine !
Is a northern coastal city with a hot and sunny climate. Chiclayo and other towns in northern Peru are centres of witchcraft. Among the places of archeological interest around Chiclayo are Tucume, Batan Grande and Huaca Rajada, where a royal Moche mausoleum was found in 1987. The greatest discovery was the tomb of the Senor de Sipan, whose funeral clothes were adorned with gold, silver and jewels. Archaeologists have ascertained that he was a royal ruler 1600 years ago and that he was about 30 years old when he died. However, the Senor de Sipan is still shrouded in mistery. His precise identity and cause of death remain unknown. The priceless funeral artefacts unearthed from the tomb can be viewed at the Bruning Museum in Lambayeque, 11km 87miles) north of Chiclayo. There are daily flights from Lima (1 hour) and Trujillo (15 min) as well as road access via the North Panamerican Highway from Lima (780 km.).
A town just south of Trujillo, on the coast north of Lima. It is the largest fishing port in Peru, where fish flour and canned fish are produced in exportable quantities. It is also the largest steel producing center in the country.
This small town is located 200 kilometers south of Lima on the Panamerican Highway. Like so many other towns on the barren Peruvian Coast, Chincha is located in a rich valley producing fruit and vegetables. It is noted for being the birthspot of a very prominent Negro culture and folklore, brought from Africa by slaves who years ago worked on the "haciendas". One of these (San Jose) is now a converted vacation resort.
Peruvian Handicraft Cuzco,
Situated 3360 m (11,024 feet) above sea level, was once the capital of the Inca Empire. Remains of the granite stone walls of the Inca Palace and temples can still be seen-the most remarkable is the Koricancha, or Sun Temple. Of the several churches, the 17th-century La Merced and its monastery San Francisco Belen de los Reyes, Santa Clara and San Blas are the most interesting, representative as they do a blend of colonial and Indian architecture. Overlooking Cuzco is the immense fortress of Sacsayhuaman. Also easily accessible are the Inca sites of Kenko, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay, and the markets of Pisac (Tuesdays, Thursday and Sundays) and Chincheros are also an attraction. The Inka City of Cuzco is also the main entry point to reach the world-famed wonders of Machu Picchu, The Sacred Valley of the Incas and the exciting Urubamba and Vilcanota River Rafting locations. Cuzco is best reached from Lima or Arequipa by air, daily. It is also accessible from Arequipa by train.
A small town located 148 kilometers north of Lima on the Panamerican Coastal Highway. It is close to the National Park of Lachay, where a microclimate caused by a localized high degree of humidity, has created a natural area of extensive vegetation inhabited by small wildlife, right in the middle of the barren desert hillside.
This city of roughly 75,000 inhabitants is located 3091 meters above sea level in the Callejon de Huaylas, a valley overlooked by the Andes mountain ranges of the "Cordillera Blanca" and the "Cordillera Negra". Due to its glacial lakes and snowbound peaks the area is often referred to as the "Peruvian Switzerland". Closeby mountain "Huascaran" is the tallest in Peru (6,800 meters). Huaraz is mostly sunny and dry during the daytime and cold at night, with rainfalls December thru April. Mountain climbers from all over the world relish visiting Huaraz.
Peru mountains Ica,
Ica is easy to reach by car from Lima via the South Panamerican Highway. The regional Museum at Ica houses many objects from the primitive Peruvian cultures : mummies, war trophies, pottery, cloth and gold ornaments. The surrounding area is renowned for its lovely vineyards. Local wines and the famous "Pisco" brandy are produced here !
A very busy port located in the southern region of the Country in Moquegua. The area has two of the largest mines in South America - Cuajone and Toquepala. Ilo is the outlet for mineral exports and also handles large volumes of incoming freight destined to both Peru and Bolivia, where it is onforwarded by rail.
Iquitos is the most important town in the heart of the jungle area of Peru. The Peruvian Amazon area is larger than Spain, France and Germany, combined ! Formerly an abandoned Jesuit mission, it began to grow in 1864 when the river post of Loreto was established. From the end of the XIX century untily early 1900, it was the centre for the rich rubber industry. Great mansions bear witness to a past splendor which ended in 1912 with the ruin of the rubber trade. The murmur of the jungle penetrates its streets. The floating houses of the Port of Belen, on the Amazon, are reminiscent of the river cities of Bangkok and Hong Kong. The tiles on the outside of its buildings give the town a unique air. Iquitos is an excellent starting point for journeys into the jungle. It can be reached from Lima daily, by air.
A city of around 136,000 inhabitants located approximately 3,800 meters above sea level on the “altiplano” (andean plateau) of Qollao, relatively close to Lake Titicaca. A cattlebreeding area know for its textile and leather goods. Alpaca wool trading is extensive and typical of the region. Closeby are the archaeological ruins of Sillustani. Juliaca is connected by train with closeby Puno, Cuzco and Arequipa. Its airport is served by daily flights from Lima, via Arequipa.
Pipones and botijas Lima,
Also known as the "City of the Kings" or "Garden City" it is the capital of Peru. A bustling metropolis with over 7 million inhabitants, located on the coast, roughly mid-way between the Ecuadorean border and Chile. It was founded in 1535 in the Rimac valley by the Spanish conqueror, Francisco Pizarro. The city is very contrasting: beautiful historical buildings with balconies, convents, churches and plazas from the days of the Spaniards are located in the old city center, whereas modern buildings, parks, numerous restaurants, hotels and shopping centers are located in the residential areas of Miraflores, San Isidro, Monterrico, La Molina and others.
Lima has several splendid museums, galleries and monuments reeking with history! The summer beach season (December-April) is ideal for bathing and surfing, right below the cliffs overlooked by Miraflores and San Isidro! Quaint little beach towns with restaurants serving fresh sea food are spread along the coast 120 km. South of the city. Although during the cool season (May-November), the city is mostly overcast, lots of sun and pleasant countryside restaurants are found minutes away, just up the Rimac valley.
There are several pre-Inca cities on the outskirts of Lima, such as Cajamarquilla and Pachacamac, well worth visiting. The city is accessible by air from the U.S.A. (several daily nonstops from Miami, New York, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles) and from practically all major European and South American Capitals. Likewise, it is well connected by air with daily flights to/from all major Peruvian cities. It is also linked to them by well paved highways and boasts of the highest railroad in the world, taking passengers and freight eastbound into the Andean mountains. Electricity in Lima - and also in other towns - is 220 volts, 60 cycles.
Machu Picchu,
Though uninhabited, this historical Inca citadel is one of the true marvels of the world !! The magnificent, breathtaking, conglomeration of stone ruins, palaces, towers, temples, terraces, staircases and other remains, nestling in mountains, surrounded by beautiful vegetation, is an unforgettable lifetime experience-in itself worth the journey to Peru !! Machu Picchu can be reached by railroad, helicopter or by walking the Inca Trail. The entry point to reach Machu Picchu is Cuzco, connected to Lima by daily flights.
Peruvian landscapes Mancora,
A small coastal village surrounded by an ever - increasing number of beach resorts, it is noted for its lovely bathing shores, snorkeling, windsurfing and other sea sports. Close by Cabo Blanco is home to the Black Marlin, Swordfish and other species; a location which was well known to Ernest Hemingway and inspired him to write "The Old Man and The Sea". The world's most perfect and even surfing waves break on many of these beaches. Accessible from Lima via the Tumbes and Talara Airports or by the Panamerican Highway.
A city located on the Southern Peruvian Coast, with a population of 138,000 inhabitants. The climate is dry and warm with sunshine throughout most of the year. The town has a lovely view of the fertile valley it overlooks. Historians report that this town was closely related to the Tiahuanaco and Pucara cultures, belonging to the Lake Titicaca region, up in the highlands, further to the east. Moquegua is traditionally a fruit and wine producer, although now its main activity is mineral mining. It is in a volcanic area, close to Huaynaputina and Tixani mountains. The town has many monuments left by the Spaniards. Moquegua is famed for its varied and tasty sweet products, wines, pisco and cognac.
Nazca is a very small community of just over 50,000 inhabitants, located 440 kms south of Lima, on the Panamerican Highway. It is famed for the closeby misterious "Nazca Lines", an unresolved marvel, even in our modern computer age! Visible by air from small aircraft and also from ground look-out points. These channels run along the ground in the desert over a surface area of more than five hundred square kilometres. Some authors have imagined the Nazca drawings to be the outline of a landing ground for extra-terrestial space ships. Others interested in the subject maintain that the villagers in the region had, in the far distant past, succeeded in flying through the air in balloons. Whatever the origin of these Nazca lines is, the Incas took the secret with them when they vanished.
Paracas is a Natural wildlife sanctuary, with an immense variety of birds, and marine life, including sea lions, penguins, red and white flamingos and the visiting huge Andean Condor! The bay is the location where Argentine General San Martin disembarked, to start off Peru's independence from the Spaniards.
Peru Sandoval Lake Landscape Pisco,
Located on the coast south of Lima, Pisco originally prospered because of its nearby vineyards. The town eventually gave its name to Peru's Brandy which was later used as the most important ingredient of the world - famed "Pisco Sour".
This is the main city on the Northern coast of the country. It can be reached daily by air. It is renowned for its well woven straw hats and other handicraft, including artesan silverware. It is close to Paita - the main northern city port and only a very short distance from the Chira Valley, one of the largest and most productive agricultural areas in Peru.
The second largest city in Peru's jungle area, accesible by air daily from Lima and Iquitos. It is the most important port on the Ucayali river, well know for its lumber, coffee and cacao production.
Puerto Maldonado,
A jungle port close to the bolivian border at the junction of the Tambopata and Madre de Dios rivers. A producer of lumber, rice, yuca, sugar cane and tropical fruits.
Puno is the capital of the province with the same name, has a population of about 80,000. It itself is a small dusty town. Its claim to fame is its location. It is located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, at an altitude of 12,421 feet. It is highly recommended you take it easy for a few days to get used to the altitude. The altitude also makes for the extremes in the climate in Puno. During daytime it can be very hot ( be very liberal with sun block), but at night the temperature can drop below the freezing point. The city itself may not be very interesting for travellers, but the surroundings are magnificent. It and the area around it are the cradle of the Aymara civilization and the legendary birthplace of the founders of the Inca empire. Puno lies on the shore of Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake, from whose waters the Inca believed Manco Capac, their cultural founder, emerged. Many ethnic groups like the Uros still depend on the the lake for their living. The Uros dwell on the floating islands they build with the lake's reed vegetation. Near Puno, overlooking Lake Umayo, are chullpas, or burial towers, that served as the tombs of the Aymara Lords. Tours can be readily put together upon arrival at a very reasonable price by your hotel.
Peru traditional dances Tacna,
Tacna is located in the far south only 35 km from the border with Chile. Tacna has a population of about 170,000. The city lies in the Atacama desert near the Pacific Ocean and in summer it can get very hot. Again, don't spare the sun screen. Fortunately there's lots of shade especially in the downtown area with the palm-tree promenade and Plaza de Armas. Tacna is part of a duty free zone that is associated with Arica Chile. Consequently it has one of the biggest artifact markets around. In this case Japanese and Korean artifacts like color TV's, vcrs but the prices really are pretty good. There are also a lot of shops with traditional Peruvian handicrafts. It has daily flights to and from Lima and other major Peruvian cities.
Center of the largest coastal oilfields in Peru, just north of the Chira Valley, one of the most fertile, cotton, rice, mango, banana and produce production areas on the Peruvian coast.
With a population of approximately 70,000 inhabitants, this town is located close to the famed “Pongo de Aguirre”, gorge where the Huallaga river roars through the Oriental Andes mountain range. It is in the region where the mountain area joins with the high jungle. Tarapoto is connected by air to Lima and several regional cities, such as Iquitos and Yurimaguas.
An enchanting little town located approximately 3,000 metues above sea level in a valley full of Eucalyptus, wheat, Barley and corn fields. It is a relatively short distance from La Oroya (mining town) and 114 km. North of Huancayo. Another city with a nickname of its own : "Pearl of The Andes", it has some closeby Inca and Pre-Inca ruins. The road beyond Tarma descends rapidly into the rich (coffee and fruit producing) Chanchamayo Valley
Tingo Maria,
A small town between Huancayo and Pucallpa which sprung up and grew when the road connecting these two locations was built. In fact, the town's main street is actually the road itself (Good old western style !). The most renowned local attraction is the Owl's Cave (Cueva de las Lechuzas), a few miles northeast of town, on the road to Pucallpa. The cave is full of beautiful stalagmites and stalactites with many, many nearly extinct nightbirds.
Church Trujillo,
The colonial city of Trujillo is very close to the ruins of Chan-Chan. This was the one of the largest sund-dried brick cities in the world. Its remains still bear witness to a rich culture which died out before the arrival of the Incas over 500 years ago. Trujillo is situated in the fertile valley of Santa Catalina in an oasis bathed by the waters of the river Moche. It has some magnificent mansions and many baroque churches belonging to the Spanish period. A city of balconies and iron grilles, it is pleasant and hospitable. It can be reached from Lima daily by air, or by car via the Panamerican Highway.
The northernmost city of Peru, situated on the Tumbes River, just off the coast, a few miles south of the border with Ecuador. It is sunny throughout most of the year with a 24° C average temperature and a short rainy season, January thru March. Population is just under 200,000 inhabitants. The area surrounding the Tumbes River estuary is considered one of the most renowned Mangrove areas on the South American continent. Many shrimp farms are located in the general area. Several small tourist resorts are located on the coast just south of Tumbes with beautiful white sandy bathing beaches, windsurfing and deep sea fishing. The area is famed for its fresh tasty fish, shrimp, lobsters, oysters, etc. It can be reached from Lima on daily 1:30 hour flights or by the well-paved Panamerican Highway.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Peruvian Cuisine

Peruvian food is determined by the geography of the country, its climate and the customs of their people.
There are several regions with completely different climates. This allows for several different typical dishes depending on the region where people live.
Due to its proximity to the Equator, Peru should have a very hot tropical climate. In reality the climate is defined by a big mountain chain, The Andes, which starts a couple of hundred kilometers in the south of Peru and ends a few kilometers north of Peru. The Andes divides the country into three geographical regions: the Coast (next to the ocean, where the capital Lima is located), the High Lands or Andes (where the old capital Cusco is located), and the Amazon Basin (which occupies more than half of Peru). 


AjiThe majority of the ingredients found in every Peruvian dish are rice, potatoes, chicken, pork, lamb, and fish. Most of these meals also include one of the different kinds of "aji", or peruvian hot pepper. These peppers are generally the yellow aji pepper, the red aji pepper, and the red rocoto pepper. There are also many other aji that are commonly used, but have names that are untranslatable.
Most of these kinds of peppers are difficult to find in any other country, so it is very difficult to exactly reproduce most of the typical dishes in the the same way.
Many of the ingredients used in typical dishes (like chicken, pork, and lamb) were introduced to Peru 500 years ago, when the Spaniards came to the Americas. Other ingredients, like potatoes (which is maybe the best known Peruvian food worldwide) were found by the Spaniards in the Peruvian Andes and carried back to Europe. There are maybe 5 very common kinds of potatoes found in everyday Peruvian dishes. Among them are the white and pink potatoes, due to their facility to grow in most kinds of weather. 

Potato history

The earliest discovered remains of potatoes date to 400 B.C. They were found at archeological sites at Chiripa, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, in the city of Puno, in the east of Peru, next to the border with Bolivia.
After its discovery by Spanish conquistadors, the potato was taken to Europe.
However, the potato's acceptance in Europe was not met with open arms. Because the potato was not mentioned in the Bible, the clergy deemed them unfit for the human diet.
Spanish records show that it entered Seville in 1570 and was used to feed hospital patients in 1573. It then traveled to Italy, Germany, and into the Orient. Later a royal Swedish edict compelled Swedes to grow the crop.
It took nearly two centuries, following the potato's introduction from South America, before it really achieved common acceptance.
Bill Pitzer and Earle Holland wrote in the New York Times; Peru is the world's potato capital. Two-thirds of the world's potato crops originate in Europe, but the production there cannot compare with the diversity of tubers found in this South American country.
They range in color from purple to blue and from yellow to brown. Sizes and textures vary as well. Some are small as nuts; others can be as large as an orange.
The taste of different potatoes varies broadly, thus explaining why these vegetables are used in all kind of dishes from appetizers to desserts. 

Sea Food (Cevicherias)

Cathedral. Lima. When a Peruvian goes to a restaurant at lunch time or in a special situation (someone's birthday, for example), they primarily go to "Cevicherias". This kind of restaurant serves all kinds of sea food. The most traditional meal in Peru is the Ceviche. This is a cold dish, which mainly consists of pieces of raw fish cooked in the juice of lemons. It is always served with onions, camote (one kind of sweet peruvian potato) and, of course, the peruvian aji pepper. 

Comida Criolla (Typical peruvian dishes) 

Although most of the daily dishes Peruvians eat are easy to prepare, there are also lots of dishes that require several hours to preparare. In this case, these dishes are mostly prepared in restaurants and not in Peruvian homes (at least not on week days).
The Criolla food can be found in at least 5 different kind of restaurants, each representing the typical food of the people who live in certain regions. Each with a different taste, different flavor, and different ingredients.

Some of the most typical dishes are shown below:

Aji de Gallina: shredded chicken in a spiced milk sauce. Arroz con Pollo: Boiled chicken seasoned with a green sauce. Served always with green rice (rice cooked with albahaca)
Papa Rellena: meat-stuffed potato patties.Adobo de cerdo: Pork sauce, served with white rice.
Papa la Huancaina: Potatoes served with a special spicy sauce, olives, lettuce and egg.Escabeche de pescado: Boiled fish seasoned with onions, aji and lemon juice  
Anticuchos: marinated grilled beef heart.
Carapulca: It is made from dried and diced potatoes with pork, steak and rice.
CauCau: Consists of tripe and diced potatoes
Cebiche: Fish or mixed shrimp with lemon. The seafood is cut into small pieces and then mixed with lemon juice and left to sit for 1hr. Next, it is mixed with onions, celery, cilantro, salt and black pepper. The dish is served cold.
Ocopa: boiled potatoes in a seasoned sauce of cheese and nuts
Pachamanca: This is a typical dish from the desert. It consists of lamb, pork, meat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and a tamale. First, one has to heat rocks on the floor using firewood. When they are hot enough, the food is placed inside a sac and buried in the hot rocks. The food has to be repeatedly checked to see when it is done because the temperature is unstable.
Parihuela: Fish, shrimp crabs, mussels and octopus. Served with yuca and rice.
Rocoto Relleno: Typical dish with meat, onions, peanuts, milk and eggs, everything baked inside of the delicious rocoto (pepper), with potatoes and cheese.
Seco de frejoles: Boiled beans with a lamb stew in green sauce, always served with white rice and raw onions seasoned with lemon and aji.

Monday, November 20, 2017

History of PERU

The first settlers reached Peru some 20,000 years ago. They brought stone tools and were hunter-gatherers, living off game and fruit. Some of them settled in Paccaicasa, Ayacucho. The most ancient Peruvian skeletal remains found to date (7000 BC) show the ancient settlers had broad faces, pointed heads and stood 1.60 meters tall. The early Peruvians left examples of cave paintings at Toquepala (Tacna, 7600 BC) and houses in Chilca (Lima, 5800 BC).
The process of domesticating plants was to lay the foundations for organized agriculture and the construction of villages and ceremonial sites. As the regional cultures gradually integrated, new techniques surfaced such as textile weaving, metallurgy and jewelsmithy, giving rise to advanced cultures.

Over the course of 1400 years, pre-Inca cultures settled along the Peruvian coast and highlands. The power and influence of some civilizations was to hold sway over large swaths of territory, which during their decline, gave way to minor regional centers. Many of them stood out for their ritual pottery, their ability to adapt and superb management of their natural resources; a vast knowledge from which later the Inca Empire was to draw.
The first Peruvian civilization settled in Huantar (Ancash) in around 1000 BC. The power of the civilization, based on a theocracy, was centered in the Chavin de Huantar, temple, whose walls and galleries were filled with sculptures of ferocious deities with feline features.
The Paracas culture (700 BC) rose to power along the south coast, and was to craft superb skills in textile weaving.
The north coast was dominated by the Moche civilization (100 AD). The culture was led by military authorities in the coastal valleys, such as the Lord of Sipan. The Moche pots which featured portraits and their iconography in general were surprisingly detailed and showed great skill in design.
The highlands saw the rise of the Tiahuanaco culture (200 AD) based in the Collao region (which covered parts of modern-day Bolivia and Chile). The Tiahuanaco was to bequeath a legacy of agricultural terracing and the management of a variety of ecological zones.
The Nazca culture (300 AD) was able to tame the coastal desert by bringing water through underground aqueducts. They carved out vast geometric and animal figures on the desert floor, a series of symbols believed to form part of an agricultural calendar which even today baffles researchers.
The Wari culture (600 AD) introduced urban settlements in the Ayacucho area and expanded its influence across the Andes.
The refined Chimu culture (700 AD) crafted gold and other metals into relics and built the mud-brick citadel of Chan Chan, near the northern coastal city of Trujillo.
The Chachapoyas culture (800 AD) made the best possible use of arable land and built their constructions on top of the highest mountains in the northern cloud forest. The vast Kuelap fortress is a fine example of how they adapted to their environment.

The Inca Empire (1500 AD) was possibly the most organized civilization in South America. Their economic system, distribution of wealth, artistic manifestations and architecture impressed the first of the Spanish chroniclers.
The Incas worshipped the earth goddess Pachamama and the sun god, the Inti. The Inca sovereign, lord of the Tahuantinsuyo, the Inca Empire, was held to be sacred and to be the descendant of the sun god. Thus, the legend of the origin of the Incas tells how the sun god sent his children Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo (and in another version the four Ayar brothers and their wives) to found Cuzco, the sacred city and capital of the Inca empire.
The rapid expansion of the Inca Empire stemmed from their extraordinary organizational skills. Communities were grouped, both as families and territorially, around the ayllu, their corner of the empire, and even if villagers had to move away for work reasons, they did not lose their bond to the ayllu. The Inca moved around large populations, either as a reward or punishment, and thus consolidated the expansion while drawing heavily from the knowledge of the cultures that had flourished prior to the Incas.
The Inca's clan was the panaca, made up of relatives and descendants, except for the one who was the Inca's successor, who would then form his own panaca. Sixteenth-century Spanish chroniclers recorded a dynasty of 13 rulers, running from the legendary Manco Capac down to the controversial Atahualpa, who was to suffer death at the hands of the Spanish conquerors.
The Tahuantinsuyo expanded to cover part of what is modern-day Colombia to the north, Chile and Argentina to the south and all of Ecuador and Bolivia.
The members of the panaca clans were Inca nobles, headed by the Inca sovereign. The power of the clans and the Inca was tangible in every corner of the empire, but the might of the Incas reached its peak in the architecture of Cuzco: the Koricancha or Temple of the Sun, the fortresses of Ollantaytambo and Sacsayhuaman, and above all the citadel of Machu Picchu.