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Saba Hajek Groenendijk

Cusco, Peru has been the city I have lived in for the longest period of time, and therefore the one I know the most. I was there for 5 years, before moving to Peru’s capital and then here to UWC Maastricht. I decided to join Youth Mayors because I want to understand my city and those of others, hoping this will one day let me create change. I want to be able to incorporate my interests, such as sustainability and other environmental issues, with people and places.

My City

Cusco is the hotspot for Peru’s booming tourism sector, receiving an estimated 1.5 million visitors a year. Being close to Machu Picchu, many other Inca ruins and the Amazon Rainforest, not to mention it having been the capital of the Inca Empire, led to it being named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. Having this huge dependence on tourism makes both the residents and the city itself vulnerable to economic problems when tourism fails. This has been proved in the last year with the surge of the current pandemic. Apart from this, Cusco, just like most big Peruvian cities, is being affected by pollution, which contaminates both the air and the waters of the region. The main river tha pases through Cusco, th Huatanay, is completely uninhabitable for most species due to all the sewage being directly expelled into its waters.

  • As of early 2020, Cusco's population is of 471,000 people.

  • Cusco means “the centre of the world” in Quechua (the language of the Inca’s)

  • Most of the churches were built by the Spaniards on top of the ruins of old Inca temples, as a way of imposing chistianity as the new official religion.

  • Overlooking the city is a smaller version of the statue of Jesus that you can find in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

  • The potato was the most important food of the Inca Empire and there is “Route of the Potato” very close to Cusco, where you can find 1267 varieties of potato eaten in Peru.

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