Peru - Beautiful Diversity
Peru stands out in the Americas for its geographic and cultural diversity. Its coastal desert is punctuated by fertile valleys once inhabited by pre-Incan civilizations and leads eastward to the foothills of the Andes.
Rising up from the coast and running from its northern border to Lake Titicaca in the south, the Peruvian Andes are home to millions of highland Indians who preserve much of their traditional way of life and still speak their ancient tongue of Quechua.
Frequently referred to as the "Land of the Incas," Peru is famous for its numerous architectural wonders. The semester program is based in the Incan capital, Cusco, which means "navel of the universe," and boasts cobblestone streets and walls of Incan stonework. Within a few hours of Cusco lie the enchanting Incan cities of Pisaq and Ollantaytambo, and the archeological complex of Machu Picchu, among numerous others.
Peru is home to over 20 unique Amazonian peoples, in addition to its coastal and highland cultures. Amidst this cultural richness, just east of the Andes, is one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world, the Peruvian Amazon. Representing over half of Peru's land area, the jungle region adds considerably to Peru's high national numbers of plant and animal species (close to 1,200). It is Peru's climatic diversity that supports such a large variety of plant and animal life. In fact, Peru boasts 84 of the world's 104 known bio-zones.
A Country in Need
Over half of Peru's 25 million people live in poverty, making it one of the poorest countries in South America. Peru faces many troubling social and economic challenges, with the most serious being high unemployment, high inflation, and a soaring national debt. These conditions lead to poverty for many Peruvians, and make it difficult for the country to provide its citizens with basic health care, education, sanitation, and other social services..
During the semester, students can expect cultural or outdoor adventures as well as project outings. Excursions may include:
For more information about the project outings please go to the Projects pages.
- A visit to Incan Ruins in the Sacred Valley
- A tour of the Major Incan ruins around Cusco, including Sacsayhuaman
- Trips to Andean forests, lakes, and glaciers
- A trip to Machu Picchu and Hiking the Inca Trail
- Community development projects