|a republic in W South America, on the Pacific: the centre of the great Inca Empire when conquered by the Spanish in 1532; gained independence in 1824 by defeating Spanish forces with armies led by San Martín and Bolívar; consists of a coastal desert, rising to the Andes; an important exporter of minerals and a major fishing nation. Official languages: Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara. Official religion: Roman Catholic. Currency: nuevo sol. Capital: Lima. Pop: 27 567 000 (2004 est). Area: 1 285 215 sq km (496 222 sq miles)|
Republic in western South America, bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, Ecuador to the northwest, Colombia to the northeast, Brazil and Bolivia to the east, and Chile to the south. Its capital and largest city is Lima.
Note: Achieved independence from Spain in 1821.
Note: Peru was the heart of the Inca Empire, which flourished from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries. The remains of the empire include the fabled stone fortress of Machu Picchu.