With an area of 1’285,215 square km (496,225 sq mi), Peru is bigger than
France, Germany, Italy, Netherland and Switzerland combined. It is the third
largest country in South America and bordered to the north by Ecuador and
Colombia, to the east by Brazil and Bolivia, to the south by Chile and to the
west by the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
We are taught as early as kindergarden that the country is
divided in 3 geographic regions: the coast, highlands and the jungle.
Coast (12% of the territory): a warm
climate along the coastline that includes superb natural beaches, mysterious
deserts, fertile river valleys and exotic dry woods.
Highlands (28% of the territory): a region
of varied terrain and temperate climate, dominated by the snow-capped peaks of
the Andes rising above 6,000 meters, the highest of which is Mount Huascaran,
at 6,768 meters (22,206 feet). It includes deep canyons such as the Colca and
Cotahuasi, the two deepest on the planet; and high plains like the plateau of
Collao, on the shores of the world's highest navigable lake, Titicaca, at 3,810
masl (12,500 feet).
Jungle or Amazonia (60% of the territory):
a region of tropical climate, lush vegetation and abundant fauna that is part
of one of the planet's largest natural reserves. Peruvian Amazonia is the
source of the Amazon River, the largest in the world.
Temperatures and atmospheric cycles vary from one region to another.
Coast: There are two clearly-defined
seasons on the coast: summer (December-March), when temperatures can reach 27ºC
(80ºF); and winter (May-October), which is damp and chilly, with temperatures falling
to 12ºC (53ºF). Although it rarely rains on the coast, mist and drizzle are
common during the winter. The far north coast enjoys sunshine all year round,
with temperatures reaching 35ºC (95ºF) in the summer.
Highlands: The climate is dry and temperate,
with two clearly-defined seasons: the dry season (May-October), with sunny
days, very cold nights and scant rainfall -the ideal time to visit the Andes;
and the rain season (December-March). There is a sharp contrast in temperature
between sun and shade, and temperatures can often vary widely during the same
day, from 20ºC (68ºF) to 2ºC (35ºF).
Jungle: The area has a tropical and humid
climate. There are two well-defined seasons: the summer or dry season (April to
October) with sunny days and temperatures above 30ºC (86ºF), and the rain
season (November to March), with frequent showers and high river levels.
Information on weather conditions in Peru is available on
The Peruvian often use superlatives to describe the features
of our country, for example Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake at 3856 meters
(12,725 ft) above sea level or the awesome Cordillera Blanca, which is about 180 km (112 miles) long and 20 km (12
miles) wide. In this fairly small area, there are more than 50 peaks of
5700 meters (18,696 ft) or higher.
In contrast, North America has only three mountains in excess of 5700 meters:
Pico de Orizaba in Mexico, Logan in Canada, Denali in Alaska and Europe has
none. Only in Asia can you find mountain ranges higher that the Andes.Huascaran,
at 6,768 meters (22,199 ft), not only is Peru’s
highest mountain, but also the highest peak in the tropics anywhere in
The Amazon river,
the world’s mightiest, originates in Peru and its namesake rainforest
makes up much of the country.
Another wonder of Peru is the Colca’s canyon,
the globe’s deepest and twice as deep as the
Grand canyon of the United States.
As if these were not enough, Caral, located
north of Lima, has the privilege of being the
oldest city of the Western hemisphere. It has been proven with carbon 14
dating that this settment was inhabited 2900 years B.C.
Peru has a population of approximately 27 million. The coast
is home to 52% of the total population, while 36% live in the highlands and 12%
in the jungle.
The population is predominantly mestizo or racially mixed,
and most speak Spanish, although there are two important minorities: the Quechua
and Aymara, and the native population of Amazonia, which is subdivided into 14
linguistic families and 42 ethnic groups.