Peru is the third largest country in South America, after Brazil and Argentina. It is made up of a variety of landscapes, from mountains and beaches to deserts and rain forests. Most people live along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, where the capital, Lima, is located.
Along Peru’s west coast is a narrow strip of desert 1,555 miles (2,500 kilometers) long. Ancient people, called the Chimú and the Nasca, first inhabited this region thousands of years ago. The coastal desert makes up only about 10 percent of Peru, but it is home to more than half of all Peruvians.
The world’s largest rain forest, the Amazon, covers nearly half of Peru. Called the selva in Spanish, this huge jungle, which also covers half of Brazil, is home to plants and animals that do not live anywhere else on Earth. Some scientists think there may even be Indian tribes there that have never seen the outside world.
The second highest mountain range in the world runs through Peru. These peaks, called the Andes, are so tall and forbidding that the ancient Inca people thought they were gods. They run from north to south and can be seen from Peru’s beaches 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the west. The highest peak, Mount Huascarán, is 22,205 feet (6,768 meters) high.
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