It’s no secret that Peru is a pretty damn awesome place to visit. It’s wild, traditional and bizarre at the same time, offering plenty of adventures and mind-blowing experiences to give travellers the thrill of a lifetime. And, as the cherry on top, this country has also a fun quirky side to it. Intrigued? Curioso?
Then you’d better check out these 10 interesting (and just plain weird) fun facts about Peru!
Fun fact #1: Peru has an ancient penis
Uhm WHAT? Ok, let me elaborate. The first thing you’ll learn while preparing for your visit to Machu Picchu, is that its name literally means “old mountain” in Quechua language – which is obviously true, provided that you’re able to pronounce this word correctly. Because if you’ve been pronouncing it machoo peeKchoo, then ok, great, you did good. But if, like me, you’ve been pronouncing it machoo peechoo the whole freaking time, congrats, you may have actually told a bunch of strangers that you can’t wait to see an “old penis”.
K is key, guys.
Fun fact #2: alpacas are awesome
There are 10 million alpacas in our world, and three-quarters of them live in Peru. If you have already read my posts about Peru (WHAT, you haven’t? How could you? Click here) you may already know how much I freaking love alpacas. They’re fluffy, adorable, and have cute butts. But the best part is, alpacas can be very easily house-trained. They are very friendly with kids and very sociable with dogs, cats, horses, sheep and pretty much any animal on earth. And just like cats, they like to do their dirty business in one particular spot. It’s cute!
Fun fact #3: llamas are awesome, too
I didn’t want to offend any Llama friend so I made sure to include a #funfact for them too. So, news flash: Llama poo poo has no odor. Llama farmers refer to it as “llama beans”, which is the reason why I’ll never eat beans again. The Incas in Peru also burned it for fuel, which is kind of gross but also very, very eco-friendly.
Fun fact #4: coca, cocaine, Coca-Cola?!
It is now common knowledge that in Peru it’s possible to find coca leaves and tea available for sale in markets, pharmacies and even hotels. The coca leaf has been chewed and used to prepare tea for centuries among indigenous peoples, and does not cause any harm to human health.
You also may already know that, when launched, Coca-Cola’s two key ingredients were cocaine and caffeine. The cocaine was derived from the coca leaf and the caffeine was extracted from kola nut, leading to the name Coca-Cola.
What, however, I did not know and literally blew my mind, is that “decocainized” coca leaf extract remains still today part of the formula. As a Coke exec once explained to the New York Times, in order to continue to produce the energy drink with its original recipe, Coca-Cola made a special arrangement with the DEA to allow them to import dried coca leaves directly from Peru.
A company in New Jersey extracts and remove Cocaine from the leaves and then ships the remainder to Coke. The leftover cocaine is consequently sold to pharmaceutical factories for medicinal purposes.
Fun fact #5: Peru=potatoes
There are over 3,000 different varieties of potato grown in Peru. There are so many that you could eat a new variety of potato literally everyday for 8.2 years before eating the same one twice. Is this a good enough reason to move to Peru? I think so.
Fun fact #6: giant birds fly in the sky
I don’t think I will ever understand the weird world of bird-watching, but here’s a fact for all you birders: the biggest flying bird on Earth can be found in Peru, the Giant Andean Condor.
The Condor’s overall length can range from 100 to 130, and it has a maximum wingspan of 3.3 m.
Fun fact #7: Incas have a knotty history
Unlike the Maya and the Aztecs, the Inca never developed a written language, nor did they ever used pictograms like the ancient Mesopotamians.
What they did have, though, were knots. Wait, what?
To sum it up, in order to communicate, the Incas used the so-called khipu, aka knotted lengths of cord made from cotton, llama or alpaca wool. They hung them in rows from a thicker cord, and just like that they were able to communicate extraordinarily complex mathematical data and narrative info. After more than a century of studies, we managed to fully crack the code of the mathematical khipus. The so-called narrative khipus, though, are a mystery we still haven’t solved.
Fun Important fact #8: the Amazon is everything
The world’s largest rain forest, the Amazon, covers nearly half of Peru, and its trees are truly the lungs of our planet. More than 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon rainforest. And there’s more, because the Amazon is also our global supermarket: 25% of all western pharmaceuticals come from rainforest based ingredients, and overall, more than 80% of the world’s food has its origins there.
A not-so-fun fact about the Amazon? This beautiful rainforest is disappearing at a rate of 1.5 acres every second, meaning it will be completely destroyed within 40 years if deforestation continues at the current rate.
Fun fact #9: Incas had big ol’ foreheads
The Incas and their ancestors had a kink for large foreheads (shoutout to them, proud member of the #BigForeheadSquad here!). Apparently, the elite classes used to bind the heads of their children in order to alter their growth until the skull assumed an elongated form. The side effects of the procedure were surprisingly small. A number of studies have shown that the inevitable alteration of brain shape does not seem to cause any damage.
Fun (and useless) fact #10: P-E-R-U
Peru is the only country whose English name can be typed on a single row of a standard keyboard. Fun huh?
All right, this one was pretty dumb so let’s wrap this up with the last, true fact: Peru is incredible and you should visit ASAP so you get to witness it in all of its (weird) glory.
I mean it, just go!
Did you know some of these facts? Share share share!