Peru is a nation in South America. It borders Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil to the east, and Bolivia and Chile to the south. Its capital and largest city is Lima. Roman Catholicism is the dominant language. Most Peruvians speak Spanish or Quechua.
Peru was the heartlands of the Inca Empire in the 15th and 16th century. The Incas were prolific builders, constructing a massive and efficient road network, as well as elaborate cities and fortresses, such as Machu Picchu. In the 1530s, Francisco Pizarro and several hundred Spanish conquistadors entered the empire, kidnapped and then killed the emperor, and took over.
During Spanish colonial rule, a galleon fleet laden with silver set off from Lima every year to cross the Pacific. Peru gained independence in the early 19th century. Peru suffered through dictatorships and military conflict in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Shining Path guerrilla movement claimed many lives. Currently, Peru is one of the poorer South American nations.
Peru is bisected by the Andes. On the western side, there is a coastal plain, which contains most of the inhabitants, and the capital city, Lima. The Quechua people, the descendants of the Inca, are the main inhabitants of the mountains themselves. The eastern side is mostly rainforest, with Iquitos as the only large city.