What You Need To Know
Cusco, often spelled Cuzco, is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region and of the Cusco Province. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cuzco, its elevation is around 3,400 m (11,200 ft). The site was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th until the 16th-century Spanish conquest. In 1983 Cusco was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It has become a major tourist destination, hosting nearly 2 million visitors a year. The Constitution of Peru designates it as the Historical Capital of Peru. In 1983 Cusco was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO with the title “City of Cuzco”.
Population: Estimate 449,720
Area: 385,1 km²
In modern culture
Television series The Emperor’s New School, the main protagonist is “Kuzco”, the young, often immature fictional emperor of the Incas. “Cuzco” was the name of a song on E.S. Posthumus’ 2001 album Unearthed. Each song on the album was named after an ancient city. The Anthony Horowitz novel Evil Star takes place partly in Cusco. BBC radio 1 DJ John Peel died in Cusco on a working holiday in 2004.
Tourism has been the backbone to the economy starting in the early 2000s, bringing in more than 1.2 million tourists per year. In 2002, the income Cusco received from tourism was $837 million USD. In 2009, that number increased to $2.47 billion USD.
Cusco extends throughout the Huatanay (or Watanay) river valley. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cusco, its elevation is around 3,400 m (11,200 ft). To its north is the Vilcabamba mountain range with 4,000–6,000-metre-high (13,000–20,000-foot) mountains. The highest peak is Salcantay (6,271 metres or 20,574 feet) about 60 kilometres (37 miles) northwest of Cusco. Cusco has a subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb). It is generally dry and temperate, with two defined seasons. The dry season lasts from May to August, with abundant sunshine and occasional nighttime freezes; July is the coolest month with an average of 9.7 °C (49.5 °F). The wet season lasts from December to March, with night frost less common; November averages 13.3 °C (55.9 °F). Although frost and hail are common, the only snowfall ever recorded was in June 1911. Temperatures usually range from 0.2 to 20.9 °C (32.4 to 69.6 °F), but the all-time temperature range is between -8.9 and 30 °C (16.0 and 86.0 °F). Sunshine hours peak in July; the equivalent of January in the northern hemisphere. In contrast, February, the equivalent of August in the northern hemisphere, has the least amount of sunshine. Cusco was found in 2006 to be the spot on Earth with the highest average ultraviolet light level.