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GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENT

Geography and Environment on Peru

GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENT

Peru is 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 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, Peruvian pelican, Inca tern and the brown booby endemic to the region. Common highland birds include the Andean condor, puna ibis and a variety of hummingbird. The highlands are also home to cameloids such as the llama, alpaca, guanaco and vicuña, while the eastern slopes of the Andes are the haunts of jaguars, spectacled bears and tapirs. Peru's flora contains a number of hardy and 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.

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