10 Things You Didn’t Know About Peru

Peru is a country most well-known for alpacas and Machu Picchu. However, its colorful history and rich culture have so much more to offer visitors and locals alike. Whether you’re planning a trip to Cotahausi Canyon or just looking for something to read while you eat a delicious Peruvian chicken dinner, here are 10 interesting facts about Peru that you probably didn’t know. 

  1. Potatoes are from Peru. When you think of potatoes, you probably think of Ireland. However, did you know that potatoes actually originated in Peru? More than 3,000 varieties are grown in the country, and potatoes are a huge part of the national cuisine and culture. They make for a great side dish with Peruvian chicken, too. 
  2. Roasted guinea pig is the national dish. Believe it or not, roasted guinea pigs, or Cuy, are the national dish of Peru. They’ve been a popular cuisine since Incan times and are usually served intact with their heads and feet still attached.
  3. The deepest canyon in the entire world – Cotahausi Canyon –  is located in Peru. Cotahausi Canyon is 11,004 feet deep – that’s almost twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, to give you some perspective. 
  4. Conversely, one of the highest sand dunes in the world, is also located in Peru. Cerro Blanco, also known as Duna Grande, is one of the highest sand dunes in the world at 3,860 feet tall from base to summit. And here’s another interesting fact about Peru if you’re into sports: you can sandboard all the way down Cerro Blanco if you can trek to the top. 
  5. Three-quarters of the world’s alpaca population live in Peru. While it’s not the national animal (that’s the Vicuña, which is a smaller animal similar to the alpaca), it plays an important role in Peruvian culture. There are 22 different hues of alpaca and their wool is used to make the world-famous (and luxurious) Peruvian ponchos and sweaters. 
  6. The ancient Incans – the original inhabitants of Peru – created the world’s first census system. While they didn’t have a formal writing system, Incans used a record-keeping system using knots, or quipus, made from wool or cotton. Different quipu sizes and colors denoted different events, like crop measures, debts, etc..
  7. The Incan Empire was actually larger than Imperial Rome at its peak. Everyone thinks that the Romans created the largest empire in the world, but the Incans had them beat. The Incan empire had nearly 25,000 miles of roads and relied on a network of runners to keep all points connected. 
  8. The best New Year’s Eve gift you can give in Peru? A pair of yellow underpants. It sounds odd, and it’s probably an interesting fact about Peru that you’ve never heard, but it’s custom to give a pair of yellow underpants to your loved ones for good luck in the coming year. Further, it’s also tradition to wear said underpants inside-out over your clothes and then flip them around when the clock strikes midnight.
  9. Carsal-supe is believed to be the oldest site occupied by humans in the Americas. It dates back almost 5,000 years and is best known not only for its age, but also its impressive architecture including earthwork platform mounds and sunken plazas. 
  10. Peruvian ponchos take literal months to create. Peruvian ponchos are considered to be extremely luxurious and are priced as such, and with good reason. It can take up to 500-600 hours to complete just one, with six months spent spinning, dying, and weaving the final product. Peuvians usually receive one poncho when they reach adulthood and wear it the rest of their lives.


Want more interesting facts about Peru and Peruvian culture? Start with the food – visit Sardi’s today. Visit a location near you or order online from our expansive menu including our famous Peruvian chicken, Latin specialties, array of delicious sides and sauces, and more.