Peru Main Facts
Situated in western South America, the Republic of Peru is a unitary semi-presidential representative democratic republic divided into 25 regions and the province of Lima. Different types of plains ecosystems cover Peru’s territory. Tropical forests in particular occupy more than 94% of the country’s forested territory, being the third largest extent of tropical rainforests on Earth, after Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These are some of the most biologically diverse forests in the world. There are still 730,000 km2 (282,000 sq. mi.) of natural forests in good condition, 80% of which are classified as primary forest.
Peru counts 84 different types of ecosystems, but forests are Peru’s main geographical features. They range from cloud forest in the south to low-lying plains Amazon forest in the north, spanning over nearly two-thirds of its territory. It is believed that Peru’s Amazon rainforest holds the greatest diversity in the world. These are certainly Peru’s main ecosystems, but despite 60% of the country being Amazon rainforest, only about 5% of its human population live there.
The Andes are perhaps the second most prominent geographical feature in Peru; one that it shares with most other western South American countries. The cordilleras (mountain ranges) in central Peru are among the highest in the country. North of Lima, the Cordillera Blanca stretches for 200 km (124 mi.), with several peaks over 5,000 metres (16,400 ft.) tall. The highest of them all is Huascarán, reaching an altitude of 6,768 metres (22,205 ft.). In the southernmost part of Peru, the Andes yield to the Altiplano; arid plains, sitting above at 3,300 meters (11,000 ft.) high. It is here, at 3,830 metres (12,566 ft.) above sea level, where Peru and Bolivia share the largest lake in South America and the world’s highest navigable body of water: Lake Titicaca.
But most of Peru’s largest cities and the vast majority of its human population are situated on the Pacific coastal region –a narrow strip of land made up almost entirely of desert, which runs from one end of Peru to the other for some 2,200 km (1,400 mi.). Coastal Peru is also home to one-third of the dolphin species of the world.
Peru’s territory teems with a staggering 10% of the world’s plant species, around 2,000 species of fish, 1.868 bird species (following IOC 8.1 species list standards); 380 species of amphibians, 460 species of mammals and 365 species of reptiles.
Peru’s diverse climate is generally tropical, but it’s largely ruled by a combination of mountain ranges and topography variations, and it’s highly affected by two ocean currents: Humboldt and the world reputed El Niño. There are 28 different climates are recorded in Peru, but they can be grouped in three main climate zones: a desert coastal strip – called La Costa– with a mild climate, cloudy and foggy in winter and pleasantly warm in summer; the Andean zone called La Sierra, more or less cold depending on altitude, and finally the large eastern area covered by the Amazon Forest, known as La Selva, with a hot and humid climate throughout the year.
Suggested tours for Peru
These tours give you a starting point for what your trip to Peru could entail. They cover routes we’ve found work particularly well and feature some of our favorite places to stay. Treat them as inspiration, as each trip is created uniquely for you.