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The first railway in Peru opened in 1851 between Lima and Callao, a distance of 14 km. It was built to standard (1435mm) gauge. Subsequent railway expansion was fragmented owing to the mountainous nature of the terrain, with a variety of lines being built to a variety of gauges.

Like most South American railways, those in Peru languished in the latter part of the 20th century, but portions have been revitalized as important tourist routes. The Southern network serves the renowned Inca city of Machupicchu, and also connects with Lake Titicaca for ferries to neighbouring Bolivia. The Central network includes the line from Lima to Lima to La Oroya and Huancayo, together with the former mining company line to Cerro de Pasco. A former 3ft (914mm) gauge line from Huancayo to Huancavalica was converted to standard gauge in 2008 and incorporated in thte Central network. The section between Lima and La Oroya includes what was for many years the highest standard gauge railway summit in the world; whilst this has been exceeded by the line from Qinghai to Lhasa in Tibet (opened in 2006), the Peru Central Railway will remain one of the world's most spectacular railways, with its steep grades and switchbacks. A couple of small, isolated lines also offer passenger services. One of these crosses the border into Chile, although there is no connection with other Chilean railways.

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Flag image from CIA World Factbook