Cusco, Peru

At more than 11,000 feet above sea level, the city of Cusco is known for its thin, dry air. The noses and cheeks of children are red with windburn and cracked from lack of moisture. At this altitude, it is chilly even in the October springtime. Each day, children come from surrounding villages to this small school run by a severe-looking, but kind-hearted woman who has dedicated her life to teaching. Her class­rooms are crowded and cold, and lack the most basic supplies. Nonetheless, the rooms are filled with the happy chatter of small children. Their broad smiles announce how glad they are to attend this place of learning every day.
Photo © 2003 Alison Hoeman


Peru/República del Perú
Western South America, bordering Pacific Ocean, between Chile and Ecuador. Western coastal plain, high, rugged Andes in center, eastern lowland jungle of Amazon Basin. 1,285,216 km2 (slightly < AK), 3% arable.

Capital Lima (8.8M)

Population 29.5M (23/km2)

Life expectancy 73 years


Literacy 93%

Lang(s) Spanish OFFICIAL 84% & Quechua 13%, Aymara 1.7%, Ashaninka and other native languages (includes many Amazonian languages) < 2%

Religions Roman Catholic 81%, Evangelical 13%, other 3%, unspecified/ none 3%

Ethnic Groups Amerindian 45%, mestizo (mixed Amerindian & white) 37%, white 15%, black; Japanese, Chinese, other 3%

Gov’t Consti­tutional Republic

GDP/cap $10,000

PCVs 1962-74, 2002-present; small business development, youth outreach, commu­nity health, environ­mental awareness. Volunteers in country: 299; total to date: 3,060).

Nat’l holiday Independence Day, 28 July (1821)

indigenous design from Peru

Moche clay animal pot.
Copyright © Julie Olsen

Map of the world

Focus word for 2012 - "Friendship"

Spanish (OFFICIAL): Amistad (ah-MEE-stad)


Milk of Sorrow (La Teta Asustada), Claudia Llosa (2009)


Gringa Latina
by Gabriella De Ferrari
Book Description
The daughter of Italian immigrant parents, novelist and travel writer De Ferrari describes her life, from growing up in Tacna, a small desert town in the foothills of the Andes mountains, to becoming a museum curator in the United States in this 1995 memoir.

Kids' Books

The Llama's Secret
by Argentina Palacios
Publisher: Mahwah, NJ: Trol, 1993
ISBN-10: 0-8167-3050-4
32 pages
Ages 6-9