Geography of Peru

Geography of Peru
Peru rel1991.gif
ContinentSouth America
Coordinates10°00′S 76°00′W / 10.000°S 76.000°W / -10.000; -76.000
AreaRanked 20th
 • Total1,285,215.6 km2 (496,224.5 sq mi)
 • Land99.6%
 • Water0.4%
Coastline3,080 km (1,910 mi)
BordersTotal land borders:
7,461 km
Bolivia: 1,075 km
Brazil: 2,995 km
Chile: 171 km
Colombia: 1,800 km
Ecuador: 1,420 km
Highest pointHuascarán Sur,
6,768 metres (22,205 ft)
Lowest pointBayóvar Depression,
−34 metres (−112 ft)
Largest lakeLake Titicaca
Exclusive economic zone906,454 km2 (349,984 sq mi)
Satellite imagery of Peru
Topographic map of Peru
Political map of Peru
Vegetation of Peru

Peru is a country on the central western coast of South America facing the Pacific Ocean. It lies wholly in the Southern Hemisphere, its northernmost extreme reaching to 1.8 minutes of latitude or about 3.3 kilometres (2.1 mi) south of the equator. Peru shares land borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile, with its longest land border shared with Brazil.


Peru has a total land area of 1,379,999 km² and a total water area of 5,000 km².

Maritime claims:
Continental shelf: 200 nmi (370.4 km; 230.2 mi)
Territorial sea: 200 nmi (370.4 km; 230.2 mi)
Exclusive economic zone: 906,454 km2 (349,984 sq mi)

Land use:
Only 3% of Peru's land is arable, with 0.5% being suitable for permanent crops. Permanent pastureland accounts for 21% of Peru's land use, and forests and woodland accounting for 66% of the landscape. Approximately 9.5% (1993 est.) of Peruvian land is attributed to population centers, coastal regions, and other space.

Irrigated land: 12,800 km² (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: Natural hazards that Peru experiences include earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, landslides, and mild volcanic activity. The geographic positioning of Peru adjacent to the adjoining Nazca and South American tectonic plates - converging in the Atacama trench off the Pacific coast - serves as the catalyst to many of Peru's natural hazards.

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

Peru shares control of Lake Titicaca, world's highest navigable lake, with Bolivia.[1]


The most populated city in the country is Lima, the capital of Peru. Lima's metropolitan area has a population over 10 million. The second largest city in Peru, Callao, has a population of 1 300,000, and third city Arequipa Peru's developed urban cities are found in coastal regions and to the north. There are 32.1 million people who live in Peru.[2] The percentage of urbanization in Peru is 79.2%, and holds a yearly increase of 1.57%.[3] Lima forms part of the largest cities in the Americas, and holds 31.7% of the country's population.[4] The dense concentration of the population size of Peru is 25 people/km² or 57/mi².[5] Lima is a pull factor that draws millions of Peruvians from the suburbs to the capital. This urban inland migration is the result of sprawling around Lima. These sprawling places are known as “Pueblos Jóvenes”. The young towns and Lima make up the metropolitan area that extend 200 km (125 mi).[6]

The urban growth brings issues to the metropolitan area and the environment. Lima is the most polluted city in Latin America.[7] The overcrowding and growth of urbanization has caused Peruvians to use its green spaces for garbage disposal. This leads to the pollution of the river Rimac that supplies water to the metropolitan area. [8] [9]

The rise of urbanization forgets the historic sites, ruins or “huacas”, which are being replaced for buildings, roads, etc. Lima is home of 400 sites of 46,000 in the country, the country itself only preserves 1%.[10]

Thousands of Venezuelans exactly 1,300,000 head to Peru in search of residency.[11] The International migration is caused by social, environmental, and economic crises. This push factor migration has brought to Peru sustenance problems like instability and food shortage.[12]


Peru map of Köppen climate classification zones

The combination of tropical latitude, mountain ranges, topography variations and two ocean currents (Humboldt and El Niño) gives Peru a large diversity of climates. Peru has a tropical climate with a wet and dry season.[13]

Amazon Basin or Low Amazon

The eastern portions of Peru include 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.[14]

Almost 60% of the country's area is located within this region,[15] (700,000 km2 or 270,000 sq mi) giving Peru the fourth largest area of tropical forest in the world after Brazil, Congo and Indonesia.[16]

Andean mountain ranges

The Andes shelter the very 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 1,500 mm (7.9 to 59.1 in) per year. The monsoonal period 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 2,500 m (8,202 ft) mark, the temperatures vary between 5 and 15 °C (41 and 59 °F) in the night versus 18 to 25 °C (64.4 to 77.0 °F) in the day.

Between 2,500 and 3,500 meters (8,202 and 11,483 ft), the temperatures vary from 0 to 12 °C (32.0 to 53.6 °F) in the night and from 15 to 25 °C (59 to 77 °F) during the day. At higher elevations from 3,500 to 4,500 meters (11,483 to 14,764 ft), the Puna ecoregion, the temperature varies from −10 to 8 °C (14.0 to 46.4 °F) during the night versus 15 °C (59 °F) during the day.

The northernmost regions of the Andes around Cajamarca and Piura regions have Páramo 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 mildly cold lows (14 °C or 57.2 °F) and also mild highs (29 °C or 84 °F). Temperatures rarely fall below 12 °C (53.6 °F) and do not go over 29 °C (84 °F). 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 9 °C or 46.4 to 48.2 °F).

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, equatorial dry forests (Tumbes–Piura dry forests ecoregion), mangrove forests, tropical valleys near rivers such as the Chira and the Tumbes. The average temperature is 25 °C (77 °F).

Central and southern coast

The central and southern coast have a subtropical desert climate, despite this region being located in the tropics. The Humboldt Current, serving as one cause of climatic differentiation, is 7 to 8 °C (13 to 14 °F) colder than normal tropical seas at 14 to 19 °C (57 to 66 °F), thus preventing high tropical temperatures from appearing. Additionally, due to the height of the Andes cordillera, there is no passage of hot clouds from the Amazon to the coast, the climate is cooler than that of similar tropical latitudes. This can create a great deal of humidity and fog during winter months.

Moreover, the Andes mountains are very close to the coast, a geographic factor that prevents cumulus or cumulonimbus clouds from appearing. Therefore, a shade effect is created, causing very low annual rainfall in this region.[17]

Rainfall averages 5 mm (0.2 in) per year near the Chilean border to 200 mm (7.9 in) per year on the northern coast and nearer the Andes.

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

Most summers (February–April) have pleasant temperatures ranging from 19 to 21 °C (66 to 70 °F) during the night to about 28 to 29 °C (82 to 84 °F) during the daytime. Winters (August–October) are very humid, and range from 12 to 15 °C (54 to 59 °F) during the nights to around the 17 to 18 °C (63 to 64 °F) during the day. The spring (November–January) and autumn (May–July) months have a pleasant climate that ranges from 23 °C (73 °F) during the day to around 17 °C (63 °F) during the night. Moving inland into the Yunga valleys, the climate tends to be ~3 °C (5.4 °F) drier and warmer during any given month.

The southern coast, composed of the Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna regions, has a drier and warmer climate during the day for all seasons, although colder in winter. There are regions famous for their sand dunes and impressive deserts that are, in part, caused by the drier and hotter climate. Temperatures in this region can reach up to 36 °C (97 °F) in the Nazca region while inland regions can fall to 8 or 9 °C (46 or 48 °F) during the winter months. During the day, temperatures rarely go below the 22 or 23 °C (72 or 73 °F) for all months of the year. This purports the idea that the southern coast has a more desert-like climate, although daily temperature variations exist as they do in other regions within tropical latitudes. Clear skies are often present in desert areas and, although less common, near the coastal cliffs as well, which are 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 geography from 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 of climate 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 the tropical dry forests that begin to appear. They are composed of shrubs, thorny trees, carob trees, faique trees, guayacan[check spelling] trees, hualtaco trees, palo santo trees, ceibo trees and on the coast mangrove 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 climatic change is caused by the presence of the warm El 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. These are 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 (10.8 °F) or more 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 (76.1–80.6 °F).

Summer (December through March) is more humid and very hot, with average temperatures that vary from 25 °C (77 °F) during the night to around 34 °C (93.2 °F) during the day, although north of Lambayeque it can reach the 40 °C (104 °F). Winters (June–September) are cooler during the nights; around 16 °C (60.8 °F) during the night, to around 27 °C (80.6 °F) 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, the mangrove forests are at the ending strips of the Piura River in the Sechura Province (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.

Extreme points

This is a list of the extreme points of Peru, the points that are farther north, south, east or west than any other location.


Peru's agricultural lands make up 18.5% of Peru's total surface area, a substantially lower percentage compared to its neighbors who average at around 22% agricultural land.[18][19] Common crops include, but are not limited to root vegetables like potatoes and cassava; peppers including chilies and paprika; vegetables like asparagus, tomatoes; quinoa; kiwicha; and fruits like mangoes, passion fruit, citrus, and bananas.[20] Levels of undernourished citizens and children who suffer from undernourishment has dramatically decreased from just under six million to just over two million between 2000 and 2017, while food availability has increased from an energy percentage of 105 to 117 between 2000 and 2017.[21]

Environmental Degradation

As food production in Peru increases, farmers saturate the soil with nutrients with Nitrogen and Phosphorus bases. Oversaturation of nutrients leads to eutrophication in nearby water bodies resulting in dead zones. Carbon emissions due to manufacturing and food processing leads to reduced air quality which contributes to the global warming that increases severity of natural disasters and acidifies the ocean leading to mass bleaching in coral reefs which will destroy oceanic ecosystems.[22][23][24]


  1. ^ McCaffrey, Stephen C.; Leb, Christina; T.Denoon, Riley. Research Handbook on International Water Law. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 494. ISBN 978-1-78536-808-0.
  2. ^ "Population Pyramids of the World from 1950 to 2100". Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  3. ^ "Peru Urbanization - Demographics". Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Major Cities in Peru: The Largest and the Most Popular | New Peruvian". New Peruvian. 21 December 2017. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  5. ^ "Peru Population 2018 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs)". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  6. ^ "Growing Pains: Urbanization and Governance in Peru". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  7. ^ "World Health Organization Says Lima has Worst Air Pollution in LatAm". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  8. ^ "Water Contamination and its Impact on Vegetable Production in the Rimac River, Peru".
  9. ^ Cueto, Marcos (2001). The Return of Epidemics : Health and Society in Peru During the Twentieth Century. Florence: Taylor and Francis. p. 108. ISBN 9781351882897. Retrieved 4 June 2022.
  10. ^ "Ruins at risk: Peru's urban growth threatens to erase pre-colonial sites". Durango Herald. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  11. ^ Gaier, Rodrigo Viga. "Bolsonaro's economic guru urges quick Brazil pension reform". U.S. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  12. ^ "Venezuelans dash to cross Peru border". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  13. ^ "Perú Travel". (in European Spanish). Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  14. ^ "Horizontal en Blanco | Earth & Life Sciences | Earth Sciences". Scribd. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  15. ^ Instituto de Estudios Histórico-Marítimos del Perú; Rosa Graciela Ponce de León Bardalez (1994). El Perú y sus recursos: Atlas geográfico y económico. Lima: Auge. p. 16.
  16. ^ Painter, James (7 December 2008). "Peru aims for zero deforestation". BBC News.
  17. ^ Moseley, M. E. (1992). The Incas and their ancestors: the archaeology of Peru. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 9780500050637.
  18. ^ "Chile". Food and Agriculture Organization. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  19. ^ "Ecuador". Food and Agriculture Organization. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  20. ^ "About Peru:Agriculture". CERMAL-EDITIONS. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  21. ^ "Peru". Food and Agriculture Organization. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  22. ^ "Peru". Food and Agriculture Organization. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  23. ^ "What is Eutrophication". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  24. ^ "What is Acidification". National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 28 November 2018.

External links

  • Ancient Inca History from Information about Ancient Inca History
  • Instituto Geografico Nacional National Institute of Geography, Peru
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