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Peru geography


Peru geography

Peru, in western South America, extends for nearly 1,500 mi (2,414 km) along the Pacific Ocean. Colombia and Ecuador are to the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east, and Chile to the south. Five-sixths the size of Alaska.

The Costa, Sierra, and Selva (jungle), each comprising a different and sharply contrasting environment, form the major terrestrial regions of the country. Each area, however, contains special ecological niches and microclimates generated by ocean currents, the wide range of

Higlands (Andes)

The highlands in Peru are generally considered to consist of two parallel ranges, the Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Oriental, extending in a northwest to southeast direction. Valleys and basins, which follow the same direction and in the south broaden into the Altiplano (with lake Titicaca and a few smaller lakes), are generally cited as the structural features that separate the western range from the eastern one. Both the western range and eastern ranges, with peaks rising over 20,000 feet are not continous, which are in most cases arranged in echelon. The high peaks and slopes are permanently snow-covered, with some remnants of glaciers. Volcanoes, active and dormant, are confined mainly to the southern part of the highlands.

The basins and valleys wedged high between the Peruvian Andes are intermont high level surface over which, historically, the majority of Peru's population has been concentrated. Most of them, which lie at altitudes between 10,000 and 15,000 feet, are broad and covered with a mantle of sediment washed down from the neighboring mountains. They are crossed by rivers whose sources are in the Cordillera Occidental or in the basins themselves and which are, in fact, the tributary headwaters of the Amazon river.

The Altiplano of the southern Peruvian Andes (which extends into Bolivia) is made up of some basins and valleys of the high level surface, including Peru's share in Lake Titicaca, with its densely inhabited environs. Only the lower basins and valleys of the high level surface are climatically within the zone suitable for agriculture. The altitude of most of this surface is outside the limit of cultivation or is marginal for some crops, such as potatoes, barley and corn. Much of the high level surface is used mainly as pasture for sheep, goats, alpacas, and llamas.

Coast

The Costa is a strange land of great dunes and rolling expanses of barren sand, at once a desert but with periods of humidity as high as 90 percent in the winter from June to September, when temperatures in Lima average about 16 degrees Celsius. Temperatures along the coast rise near the equator in the north, where the summer can be blazingly hot, and fall to cooler levels in the south. If climatic conditions are right, there can be a sudden burst of delicate plant life at certain places on the lunar-like landscape, made possible by the heavy mist. Normally, however, the mist is only sufficient to dampen the air, and the sand remains bleakly sterile. These conditions greatly favor the preservation of delicate archaeological remains. The environment also facilitates human habitation and housing because the climate is benign and the lack of rain eases the need for water-tight roofing. The popular topographic features of Peruvian coast include Sechura Desert, the Atacama Desert and the Nazca Plains.

The Jungle

The jungle of Peru includes a vast region of tropical vegetation in the Amazon River Basin, home to Peru's largest natural reserves. The vast Peruvian jungle, which surrounds the wide and winding Amazon river, is divided into two areas

The cloud forest, which features a subtropical, balmy climate, with heavy rain showers between November and March, and sunny days from April to October; and the lowland jungle, where the dry season runs from April to October and is ideal for tourism, with sunshine and high temperatures often topping 35°C.

Peru travel is a wonderful experience. It's such a precious country for all those passionate about natural diversity.