Driving Directions Peru

PERU is located just south of the Equator, on the Pacific coast of South America. The country has four topographical regions that run mainly north to south: the Costa, the high Sierra, Montana, and the Selva.

The Costa is a narrow coastal belt that varies in width between about 56-160 kilometers or 35-100 miles. It is mainly a desert region except where traversed by rivers flowing westwards to the Pacific. The valleys of these rivers cultivated for rice, cotton, and sugar cane.

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Behind the coastal belt, the land rises to the high Sierra of the Andes, whose main ranges are the Cordillera Occidental, the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera Oriental. This Sierra region has peaks that average 3,657 meters or 12,000 feet in height but also cut by steep-sided gorges interspersed with plateaux. Most of Peru’s native Indian peoples live in this region. On the lower western slopes of the Andes, some cultivation is possible, notably maize and potatoes, and the higher areas provide grazing for llamas, alpacas, guanacos, and vicunas.

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On the eastern side of the Andes, lies the Montana region, an area of subtropical jungle and cloud forest that remains virtually impenetrable in some places. To the east and north, the land flattens to form the Selva, a part of the Amazon river basin covered with dense tropical jungle.

Most large-scale agriculture is in the oases and fertile, irrigated river valleys that cut across the coastal desert. Sugar and cotton are the main exports. Sheep, llamas, vicunas, and alpacas kept for wool.

The fishing industry was once the largest in the world, but recently the shoals have become depleted. Anchovies form the bulk of the catch and are used to make the fish meal. Minerals, such as iron ore, silver, copper, and lead, as well as natural gas and petroleum, are extracted in large quantities and are a vital part of the economy.

Peru is not yet a fully industrialized country. Still, the majority of its 22 million population have moved to urban areas in the hope of finding work and live there in extreme poverty. The economy in the late 1980s damaged due to the declining value of exports, inflation, drought, and guerrilla warfare, which made the government introduce an austerity program in the 1990s.

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