Machu Picchu is an abandoned fifteenth century Incan town in Peru. Its beautiful situation high up in the mountains above the Urubamba Valley, combined with its impressive state of preservation, make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
Machu Picchu was voted one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World in 2007. The site is an extremely lucrative source of income for Peru, but in recent years concerns have mounted over the impact high volumes of tourists are having on Machu Picchu's preservation. UNESCO, who gave the site World Heritage status, are currently considering putting it on the list of endangered heritage sites.
The Inca Empire was the largest civilisation in America before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Centred around present-day Peru, the Incas came to dominate a large part of the continent of South America for almost a century until invading Spanish conquistadors, under the leadership of Francisco Pizarro, brought the civilisation to an end.
Pizarro and his men were drawn by the great wealth of gold to be found in South America. The arrival of the Spanish brought with it a devastating epidemic of smallpox, a disease to which the Americas had not previously been exposed. Due to internal conflict between the sons of the Incan emperor Huayna Capac, Huáscar and Atahualpa, and the superiority of Spanish weapons, Pizarro was able to conquer the empire with a force of only 168 men.
Such identity crises do seem to occur among animals. In 2009, the Cats Protection League was looking for a home for an 'honorary cat', a Jack Russell dog named Chippy who had lived his life among forty cats, coming to believe that he was the same as them. Chippy used a litter tray, played with toy mice and slept with his best feline friend Annie, a black cat. Happily, Chippy was soon adopted by a dog-loving 72-year-old lady.