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Peru’s Cuisine, Cities and Education

Machu Picchu, Cuzco, and Atahualpa got your attention? Life in Peru isn’t all about the gorgeous Andes mountain ranges and ancient Incan archeological sites, though! If you are thinking about becoming an expat in Peru, let InterNations inform you about the country, its climate and geography, and where to settle.

There is no traditional Peruvian cuisine per se. Again, due to the nation’s vastly diverse terrain, typical dishes will vary by region. Yet, there are certain foods native to Peru. For example, the potato, corn, and certain grains (e.g. quinoa), are part of the staple foods in every Peruvian’s kitchen. As Peru borders the Pacific Ocean, it has a very seafood-based cuisine. Typical Peruvian dishes which are spread out throughout the whole country are cevicheempanadas, and lomo saltado, and Peru’s national drink pisco sour is quite tasty, too!

One of the benefits of living in Peru is the availability of incredibly fresh produce, which is offered for sale at open-air markets on most weekdays. For those with more refined taste buds, Peru’s haute cuisine and fusion cuisine is also becoming rapidly popular amongst gourmet cooks around the world.

Lima: The City of Kings

Lima is the capital and largest city in Peru. Considered to be the best combination of modernity and tradition, this city of more than 10 million people is a cultural and historic highlight. With its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, it also attracts many expats looking for a warmer home.

Lima is the industrial and financial capital of Peru, resulting in many expats being sent there on assignments. As is often the case in large cities, there is a strong divide between the rich and the poor. However, one can live comfortably in one of Lima’s beautiful neighborhoods, such as, for example, the famous Miraflores.

Trujillo: The Capital of Peruvian Culture  

Trujillo is the second largest city in Peru, and due to its coastal location the temperatures lie between 15°C and 25°C all year round. It’s also considered Peru’s cultural hotspot: many examples of colonial and religious architecture can be found throughout the city center, as well as a lively arts community. Trujillo sponsors many national and international cultural events, such as the annual Trujillo Marinera Festival.

There is more to explore in the area around Trujillo, since two major sites of the pre-Columbian monuments are close to the city: Chan Chan, the largest adobe city in the ancient world and the temples of the Sun and Moon, the largest adobe pyramid in Peru. In case you’re looking for work in Trujillo, the city’s biggest industry is agriculture. Sugarcane, asparagus, and shoes, in particular, are some of the main products of the metropolitan area.

Arequipa: La Ciudad Blanca

Also known as The White City, Arequipa is home to more than 920,000 people, making it the third largest city in Peru after Trujillo. Established in 1540, Arequipa was already then an important economic hub. Located on the southwestern end of Peru, it offers a warm dry climate almost all year round. With the three large volcanoes (the Misti, Pichu Pichu, and Chachani) at its foot, you will always have a gorgeous view. Do not fear the volcanoes, as they have been dormant for quite some time!

Arequipa has many colonial-style buildings, which were built by the Spanish conquistadores out of pearl-colored volcanic rock, giving the city its nickname. Since 2000, Arequipa has joined the ranks of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and its beautiful cityscape attracts many tourists as well as expats.

How It Works: Education in Peru

It is obligatory for children in Peru to attend school from age six until sixteen. Primary school (primaria) is attended between six and eleven, after which schoolchildren attend a secondary school (secundaria) from ages twelve to fourteen. Then it becomes a bit more complicated: based on the child’s interest and grades, he or she can go the academic route and attend a high school (Ciclo Diversificado Científico-Humanista), in which a Bachillerato Academico (equivalent to A-levels or the American high school diploma) will be achieved. As an alternative, students can take a more technical path and receive a Bachillerato Tecnico, after which they can seek a job in a technical field.

Most children attend private schools in Peru, aside from those who are unable to carry the financial burden and thus attend the free public schools. School uniforms are the norm in both public and private schools.

The Alternative: International Schools

Peru has many international schools. This article will briefly look at the most popular ones in Lima and Arequipa.

As the capital, Lima has several renowned international schools, ranging from English and American school systems to French and German institutions. The Franklin D. Roosevelt American School is very popular among American expat families living in Lima, while Colegio Franco Peruano is favored among French expatriates, as it teaches mainly in French. In addition, Lima is home to the oldest educational institution in the New World, namely the San Marcos University, which was founded in 1551.

As Arequipa also attracts many expats, there are also quite a few international schools located within the city walls. Many German expat families find that the Max Uhle Colegio Peruano Alemán offers a good blend of a German- and Spanish-language curriculum, while native English-speaking families tend to send their kids to Prescott.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

If there’s something you’re still not sure about, check out the InterNations Forum.

Brandon Le Clerk

"During all my life as an expat (Lima is my fourth home abroad), I have been searching exactly for a networking platform like InterNations."

Maria Borges

"InterNations and the Lima Community helped me to learn a lot about Peru and the Peruvian culture -- not to mention Lima's nightlife. ;) "

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