Peru Geography

Terrain and geography

Peru is on the West Coast of South America, south of the Equator, between 0 and 18 degrees south latitude and, 70 degrees and 81 degrees west longitude. With a population of about 27.94 million people, Peru is the fifth most populated country in Latin America.

The country has four distinct geographic areas: the narrow coastal desert region (about 25 to 40 miles wide), barren except for irrigated valleys; the Andean highlands or sierra, containing some of the world's highest mountains; the "ceja de montana" (eyebrow of the mountain), a long narrow strip of mountainous jungle on the eastern slope of the Andes; and the selva or rain forest area which covers over half the country, including the vast Amazon River Basin and the Madre de Dios River Basin.

The sierra, covering one-fourth of Peru, is an area of uneven population distribution, rich in mineral wealth. Many of its inhabitants live at elevations above 10,000 feet. The selva region is sparsely populated and only partially explored. The climate in the "ceja de montana" varies with the elevation from temperate to tropical.

Because Lima lies on an axis of instability in the Earth's crust, seismic activity is common. Light earthquakes called "temblores" occur but seldom cause damage. A strong earthquake occurred in Lima, Callao and environs on May 24, 1940, causing major damage with over 2,000 casualties. Serious earthquakes also occurred in Cuzco (1950), Arequipa (1958 and 1960), the Lima-Callao area (1966-74), and Chimbote and the Callejon de Huaylas (1970).

Between May 1998 and May 1999, 85 light earthquakes occurred and the strongest of these earthquakes were in Arequipa, Lima and Huancayo.

Geography - note

shares control of Lago Titicaca, world's highest navigable lake, with Bolivia; a remote slope of Nevado Mismi, a 5,316 m peak, is the ultimate source of the Amazon River

Peru Geography

Geographic Location South America
Total Area 496,222 Square Miles
1,285,216 Square Kilometers
Land Area 494,206 Square Miles
1,279,996 Square Kilometers
Water Area 2,015 Square Miles
5,220 Square Kilometers
Land Boundaries 4,636 Miles
7,461 Kilometers
Irrigated Land 4,618 Square Miles
11,960 Square Kilometers
Border Countries Bolivia 1,075 km, Brazil 2,995 km, Chile 171 km, Colombia 1,800 km, Ecuador 1,420 km
Coastline 1,500 Miles
2,414 Kilometers
Geographic Coordinates 10 00 S, 76 00 W
Terrain western coastal plain (costa), high and rugged Andes in center (sierra), eastern lowland jungle of Amazon Basin (selva)
Highest Point 6,768 Meters
Highest Point Location Nevado Huascaran 6,768 m
Lowest Point Location Pacific Ocean 0 m
Natural Resources copper, silver, gold, petroleum, timber, fish, iron ore, coal, phosphate, potash, hydropower, natural gas
Time Zone UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
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