Perl is a dynamic, dynamically-typed, high-level, scripting (interpreted) language most comparable with PHP and Python. Perl's syntax owes a lot to ancient shell scripting tools, and it is famed for its overuse of confusing symbols, the majority of which are impossible to Google for. Perl's shell scripting heritage makes it great for writing glue code: scripts which link together other scripts and programs. Perl is ideally suited for processing text data and producing more text data. Perl is widespread, popular, highly portable and well-supported. Perl was designed with the philosophy "There's More Than One Way To Do It" (TMTOWTDI) (contrast with Python, where "there should be one – and preferably only one – obvious way to do it").
Perl has horrors, but also some great redeeming features. In this respect it is like every other programming language ever created.