Geography of Peru

Geography of Peru

Country geography

region=South America
km area=1285220
percent land= 97.2
km coastline=2,414
area ranking=20th
largest lake=Lake Titicaca
highest point=Nevado Huascaran (6,768 m.)
lowest point=-34 m (Bayovar Depression)
borders=Total land borders:
5 536 km
Bolivia: 900 km
Brazil: 1 560 km
Chile: 160 km
Colombia: 1 496 km
Ecuador: 1 402 km
longest river=Amazon

Peru is a country in South America facing the Pacific Ocean.

"land:"1.28 million km²
"water:"5,220 km²

Maritime claims:
"continental shelf:"200 nautical miles (370 km)
"territorial sea:"200 nautical miles (370 km)


The combination of tropical latitude, various mountain ranges, topography variations and two ocean currents (Humboldt and El Niño) gives Peru a large diversity of climates.

Amazon Basin or Low Amazon

The "eastern" portions of Peru includes the Amazon Basin or "selva baja", a region that is larger in the north than in the south. Representing roughly 60% of Peru's national territory, this area includes the Amazon, Marañón, Huallaga and Ucayali Rivers. It is a vast tropical forest with countless rivers and streams. Rainfall varies from 2000 to 4000 mm per year.

Andean Mountain Ranges

The Andes shelter the largest variety of climates in the country. The climate is semi-arid in the valleys and moist in higher elevations and towards the eastern flanks. Rainfall varies from 200 to 1500 mm per year. The rainy season starts in October and ends in April. The rainiest months are January through March where travel can be sometimes affected.

The western slopes are arid to semi-arid and receive rainfall only between January and March. Below the 2500 m mark, the temperatures vary between 5 and 15 °C in the night versus 18 to 25 °C in the day.

Between 2500 and 3500 meters the temperatures vary from 0 to 12 °C in the night and from 15 to 25 °C during the day. At higher elevations from 3500 to 4500 meters, the Puna ecoregion, the temperature varies from −10 to 8 °C during the night versus 15 °C during the day.

The northernmost regions of the Andes around Cajamarca and Piura regions have Paramo climates.


The Peruvian coast is a microclimatic region. The region is affected by the cold Humboldt Current, the El Niño Southern Oscillation, tropical latitude, and the Andes mountain range.

The central and southern coast consists mainly of a subtropical desert climate composed of sandy or rocky shores and inland cutting valleys. Days alternate between overcast skies with occasional fog in the winter and sunny skies with occasional haze in the summer, with the only precipitation being an occasional light-to-moderate drizzle that is known locally as "garúa". These regions are usually characterized by having mildy cold lows (14 C°) and also mild highs (30 C°). Temperatures rarely fall below 14 C° and do not go over 30 C°. An exception is the southern coast, where it does get a bit warmer and drier for most of the year during daytime, and where it can also get much colder during winter nights (8 to 9C°). The occasional drizzle or fog of the central and southern coast is common during winter months, but even during summer days there are some foggy days. One must not forget that although it may not be as warm as typical tropical latitudes, the sun will hit and strike as if you were in any other tropical place.

The northern coast, on the contrary, has a curious tropical-dry climate, generally referred to as tropical savanna. This region is a lot warmer and can be unbearable during summer months, where rainfall is also present. The region differs from the southern coast by the presence of shrubs, equotorial dry forests , mangrove forests, tropical valleys near rivers such as the Chira and the Tumbes, and is blessed with clear, sunny skies for most of the year. The average temperature is 25 C°.

Central & Southern Coast

The central and southern coastal have a subtropical desert climate. Even though the region is located at tropical latitudes the Humboldt Current is 7 to 8 degrees Celsius colder than normal tropical seas at 14 to 19 °C. This fact affects the coastal terrain preventing high tropical temperatures from appearing, and since the Andes mountains tend to be closer to the coast it also prevents Amazon clouds to appear, creating a shade effect with few annual rainfalls until you reach the northern coast.

Rainfall averages 5 mm/yr near the Chilean border to 200 mm/yr in the northern coast and near the Andes.

The "central coast" is composed of regions like La Libertad, Ancash and Lima, having a spring-like climate for most of the year. Foggy and sunny days intermingle around the humid sand dunes most of the year.

Most summers (January-April) have pleasant temperatures from 19 to 22 °C during the nights to about 29 to 30 °C during daytime. Winters (June-October) are very "humid", and range from 14 to 15 °C during the nights to around the 17 to 18 °C during the day.

The spring and autumn months have a pleasant climate that ranges from 24 °C during the day to around 17 °C during the night. As you go inland, away from the coast and on to the "yunga" valleys the climate is drier and warmer during all seasons: around 3 degrees Celsius warmer in any given month.

Strangely enough, it also gets warmer if you go north of Lima into La Libertad or Ancash or south of Lima (Pisco, Chincha), at least during the day. The reason is probably since Lima is located where the Humboldt current prevails, yet there are tropical sun rays above the clouds that create fog and since there is no passage of hot clouds from the Amazon to the coast, the climate is cooler that similar tropical latitudes. This created a lot of humidity and fog in winter times.

The "southern coast" composed of Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna regions have a drier and warmer climate during the day-time for all months except for winters. There are regions famous for their "sand dunes" and impressive deserts since the climate is drier and hotter. The temperatures can go as high as 36 °C in the Nazca and regions inland, yet can fall to 8 or 9 °C during the winter months. During the daytime temperatures rarely go below the 22 or 23 °C for all months. These fact determine that the "southern coast" have a semi Mediterranean desert like climate yet there is small variations between temperatures during night time or day time, as regions in "tropical latitudes". Clear skies are for the most part attractive near the coastal cliffs, home to a variety of fish and marine mammals.

Northern Coast

The "northern coast" consists of the eastern region of Lambayeque, the Piura Region and the Tumbes Region.They are characterized by having different climate and geographyfrom the rest of the coast. Right between the 3 hour drive on the Sechura desert, which is located north of the Lambayeque Region and south of the Piura Region, is the evidence ofclimate change from the common subtropical desert found on the south to visible tropicalization effects of the tropical dry climate or tropical savanna. Examples of this are thetropical dry forests that begin to appear. They are composed ofshrubs, thorny trees, carrob trees, faique trees, huayacan trees, hualtaco trees, palo santo trees, ceibo trees and on the coastmangrove forests. It is also a biodiverse area where typical wildlife can be observed such as crocodiles, reptiles, iguanas, boas, pava aliblanca, anteater (bear), sloth (bearh) and many more.

This climatical reasons for change are the presence of the warm Niño Current during the summer months (December to April), the eventual
El Niño Phenomenon and the passing of Amazon Jungles clouds due to mountain openings and lower altitudes of the Andes Chain. Theseare the causes for a climate change in a short two or three hour trajectory that is visible between the Lambayeque Region and the Sechura Province, where not only geography changes but a temperature rise of 6 °C or mor depending on the month. It is directly off the shores of the Sechura Region where the cold Humboldt current and warm el Niño current meet, at about 5° to 6° south of the equator. From this point warm temperatures are most common, and there are no true winters. Average temperatures range between 24.5-27 C°. Clear skies, beautiful warm valleys, eroded terrains with reddish colored sands, rice fields, palm trees, savannas, bushy forests, dense rivers, beautiful warm turquoise beaches, orangey or yellowish terrains, clearer sands and a sun that hits like the African plateau,where shade is almost impossible.

Summer (December through March) is more humid and very hot, with average temperatures that vary from 25 °C during the night to around 34 °C during the day, although north of Lambayeque it can reach the 40 °C. Winters (June-September) are cooler during the nights; around 16 °C during the night, to around 27 °C during the daytime.

There are protected areas in Tumbes and Piura filled with tropical canelo forests and tropical dry forests such as Caza de Coto and Cerros de Amotape, both extending into southern Ecuador. The areas of Eastern Lambayeque also have tropical dry forests which are found in the Chaparri and Chongoyape provinces. These forests have the particularity of connecting to the Amazon basin through the Marañon passage (an area where there are also tropical dry forests). Mangrove forests are located in four specific areas from Sechura to Tumbes.

In these regions there are mangroove forests at the ending strips of the Piura River in the Sechura Province
Vice (the southernmost mangroves in the Pacific Ocean). To the north the ending strips of the Chira River, Tumbes River, and Zarumilla River also have mangrove forests that flow into the ocean.

Terrain:western coastal plain (costa), high and rugged Andes in center (sierra), eastern lowland jungle of Amazon Basin (selva).

Natural resources:
copper, silver, gold, petroleum, timber, fish, iron ore, coal, phosphate, potash, hydropower.

Land use:
"arable land:"3%
"permanent crops:"0%
"permanent pastures:"21%
"forests and woodland:"66%
"other:"10% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land:12,800 km² (1993 est.)

Natural hazards:
earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, landslides, mild volcanic activity

Environment - current issues:deforestation (some the result of illegal logging); overgrazing of the slopes of the coast and sierra leading to soil erosion; desertification; air pollution in Lima; pollution of rivers and coastal waters from municipal and mining wastes

Environment - international agreements:
"party to:"
Antarctic Treaty, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
"signed, but not ratified:"Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol

Geography - note:shares control of Lake Titicaca, world's highest navigable lake, with Bolivia

External links

* [ Climate of Peru]
* [ Ecology of Peru]
* [ Maps of Peru]

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