The indigenous population of Panama referred to this powerful state as the land of Piru or Peru (word meaning "land of abundance" in the region's native Quechua tongue). The Spanish conquistadors Francisco Pizarro (c.1475–1541) and Diego de Almagro (1475–1538) received news of a mighty and rich empire lying just south of the present territory of Central America.The northern and central part of the South American continent was described as such in all the early chronicles and ethnohistoric accounts.
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Peru's capital, Lima, is located on the coast, about 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Pacific Ocean.
Lima is home to almost a third of Peru's total population, with a total of two-thirds of the country's population living in the coastal region. The western coast contains dry, desertlike regions to the north as well as to the south, with more agriculturally productive lands along the major valleys formed by the western-draining Andean rivers.
The Central Andes run as the backbone of Peru and are comprised of two large mountain ranges with spectacular snow-capped volcanoes and temperate mountain valleys.
The Andean mountains were the traditional home of the ancestral Inca kingdom.
To this day, the Andes support many of the current surviving indigenous populations, some still claiming a direct Inca ancestry.
Finally, in the northeast, the large region of Amazonian tropical forest has recently been the scene of oil exploration and political colonization projects.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.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.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.