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The ruins evoke the nation's Indian past and legitimizes both Peru's historical heritage and cultural tradition.Other emblematic figures of Peru are that of the Lake Titicaca and the island of the sun.Upon independence, Peru was the name given to the country. Peru has an approximate land area of 496,225 square miles (1,285,223 square kilometers) and is located in the central western section of the South American continent.It borders Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east, Chile to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.The majestic image of this ancient ruin perched high in the Andes is used to symbolize the resilience of Peruvian traditions.The fact that Machu Picchu lies on an 8,000-foot (2,440 meter) mountaintop and that it escaped destruction by the Spaniards looms large in the imaginations of Peruvians and tourists.Peru's tropical forest basin also is the source of three of the major tributaries of the Amazon River, the Ucayali, Huallaga, and Marañón Rivers.Since the 1980s, there has been the growing of impact of the El Niño (the child) current.
Spanish, however, is the language enforced by both the education system and the government.
There are four major ethnic groups in Peru: (1) whites (of European ancestry); (2) mestizos (of mixed European and Indian ancestry—pejoratively referred to as cholos ); (3) Indians (of Native American ancestry); and (4) Afro-Peruvians (of African descent).
Accurate statistics for each of these four populations are difficult to collect because of the fluidity and arbitrariness in defining people as members of each community.
To this day, one of the most powerful groups to challenge Peruvian national identity is that of the contemporary Indian population, which at different times in history has seen itself as the rightful heirs of the Inca empire and has resisted European influence on its culture.
The name Peru was pervasive during the colonial period and was used to denominate the larger sections of the powerful viceroyalty of Lima.