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Peru Geography

Peru is located in western South America and shares borders with Chile (to the south), Bolivia (southeast), Brazil (northeast), Colombia (north) and Ecuador (northwest). It has three major regions: a narrow coastal belt, the wide Andean mountains and the Amazon Basin. The coastal strip is predominantly desert, but contains Peru's major cities and its best highway; the Carretera Panamericana. The Andes comprise two principal ranges - Cordillera Occidental and Oriental - and includes Mt. Huascarán (6770m/22,200ft), Peru's highest mountain. To the east is the Amazon Basin, a region of tropical lowland, which is drained by the Maranon and Ucayali rivers.

Bird and marine life is abundant along Peru's desert coast, with colonies of sea lion, the Humboldt penguin, Chilean flamingo and Peruvian pelican. Common highland birds include the Andean condor, Puna Ibis and a variety of hummingbirds. The highlands are also home to cameloids such as the llama, alpaca, guanaco and vicuña, while the eastern slopes of the Andes are the habitats of jaguars, specled bears and tapirs. Peru's flora contains a number unique plants, including patches of Polylepis woodland found at extreme heights. The vast wealth of wildlife is protected in a system of national parks and reserves with almost 30 areas covering nearly 7% of the country.

Peru's climate can be divided into two seasons - wet and dry - though this varies depending on the geographical region. The coast and western Andean slopes are generally dry, with the summer falling between December and April; during the rest of the year, the garúa (coastal fog) moves in and the sun is rarely seen. In the Andes, the dry season is from May to September, while the wet season takes up the remainder of the year. On the eastern slopes of the Andes, the drier months are similar to the highlands, though the wet season (January to April) is more pronounced.

  • Location: Western South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Chile and Ecuador
  • Total area: 1,285,220 sq. km
  • Water:5220 sq km
  • Land:1.28 million sq km
  • Area comparison:slightly smaller than Alaska and five times bigger than the UK
  • Bordering countries:Bolivia (900km), Brazil (1560km), Chile (160km), Colombia (1496km) and Ecuador (1420km)
  • Coastline:2414km

MARITIME CLAIMS:

  • Territorial sea: 200NM
  • Continental shelf: 200NM

ELEVATION EXTREMES:

  • Lowest point: Pacific Ocean - 0m
  • H ighest point: Nevado Huascaran - 6768m/22204ft

NATURAL RESOURCES:

Copper, silver, gold, petroleum, timber, iron ore, coal, phosphate, potash, hydropower, natural gas and fish

LAND USE:

  • Arable land: 2.85%
  • Permanent crops: 0.38%
  • Other: 96.77% (1998 est.)

NATURAL HAZARDS:

Earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, landslides and mild volcanic activity

GEOGRAPHY NOTE:

Peru shares control of Lake Titicaca (with Bolivia), the world's highest navigable lake; product of a remote slope of Nevado Mismi – a 5316m/17440ft peak.

  • Population:29,600,000 (July 2004 est.)
  • Population growth rate:1.39% (2004 est.)
  • Birth rate:21.27 births/1000 population (2004 est.)
  • Death rate:6.29 deaths/1000 population (2004 est.)

INFANT MORTALITY RATE:

  • Total:32.95 deaths/1000 live births
  • Female:30.21 deaths/1000 live births (2004 est.)
  • Male:35.57 deaths/1000 live births

LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH:

  • Total population:69.22 years
  • Male:67.48 years
  • Female:71.03 years (2004 est.)


Ethnic groups: Amerindian: 45%, Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white): 37%, white: 15%, black, Japanese, Chinese and other: 3%
Religion: Roman Catholic (90%)
Languages: Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara and more than 60 dialects are spoken in the jungle region
Literacy: definition – 15 years and over with the ability to read and write
Total population: 90.9%
Male: 95.2%
Female: 86.8% (2003 est.)

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