Life zones of Peru

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When the Spanish arrived, they divided Peru (very simplistically) into three main regions: the coastal region (11.6% of Peru), that is bounded by the Pacific Ocean; the highlands (28.1% of Peru), that is located on the Andean Heights, and the jungle, that is located on the Amazonian Jungle (Climate of Peru). But Javier Pulgar Vidal (es), a geographer who studied the biogeographic reality of the Peruvian territory for a long time, proposed the creation of eight Natural Regions.[1][2] In 1941, he presented his thesis "Las Ocho Regiones Naturales del Perú" at the III General Assembly of the Pan-American Institute of Geography and History.

These eight Peruvian regions are:

Example: Andes 10°S[edit]

See also Altitudinal zonation

Classic version, Amazonic side[edit]

Javier Pulgar Vidal's version[edit]

Altitudinal variation in the Andes.

The Peruvian geographer Javier Pulgar Vidal divided Peru in 8 regions (traditionally, it was costa, sierra and selva):

Map from República del Perú - Instituto Geográfico Nacional

  • Chala (West, Pacific Coast) 0– 500 m
  • Omagua (Lowland jungle or Selva baja, Amazonic rainforest) 80– 400 m
  • Rupa-Rupa (Highland jungle, Selva alta) 400– 1,000 m
  • Yunga (Aymaran for "Warm Lands", Cloud forest)
    • Loma-Vegetation (West, "Yunga costal" at the north of Peru) 450– 600 m
    • Fluvial Yungas (East, "Yunga fluvial") 1,000- 2,300 m
  • Quechua (East, High valleys) 2,300– 3,500 m
  • Suni (or Jalca or Sallqa too, high plateaus and cliffs) 3,500– 4,100 m
  • Puna (means "mountain top") 4,100– 4,800 m
  • Janca (means white) above 4,800 m, permafrost, rocks, snow and ice [1]


Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests

Montane grasslands and shrublands

Deserts and xeric shrublands

Overview - Amazonic side[edit]

Estimated temperatures - Continental Divide[edit]


  • Region, altitude (m); avg annual precipitation (mm); avg annual temperature (°C);
  • Peruvian Highland Rainforest (Tropical climate), Cloud forest (Subtropical climate) and Temperate forest (Temperate climate);
  • Cusco reference, estimated avg annual temperature (°C, Lowland Rainforest or Selva baja gets more rain, so it is more cloudy, so it is cooler);
  • Snow line reference, Humboldt cold current/ Pacific climate influence, estimated avg annual temperature (°C).[22]
    • Cuzco, Peru; 3,249 m; avg annual temperature 12.5 °C; avg annual precipitation 736 mm.
    • Lima, Peru; 30 m; avg annual temperature 19.2 °C (fog influence); avg annual precipitation 15 mm.
Altitude West - Pacific side East - Amazonian side
Highland Rainforest or Selva alta 400 m  - 26.5 °C
Loma-Vegetation 500 m about 21.1 °C  -
Cloud forest or Fluvial Yunga 1,000 m  - 23.5 °C
Quechua - Montane Valleys 2,300 m  - 17.2 °C
Amazonian Tree line of Coniferae: 10 °C about 3,500 m  - about 10 °C
Mountain pass influence 4,100 m about 3.4 °C (about 7.1 °C)
Vegetation end about 4,800 m about 0.0 °C  -
Snow line about 5,000 m about -1.0 °C  -

Example: Kallawaya Region, Bolivia[edit]

Altitudinal zonation: Kallawaya Region, around Charazani, Bolivia (border to Peru).

  • Glacier
    • Altitude: 5,900- 5,200 m, Annual mean temperature: below 0 °C, Agriculture: none
  • High Mountain Desert, Werneria ciliolata on scree
    • Altitude: 5,200- 5,000 m, Annual mean temperature: below 0 °C - 0 °C, Agriculture: none.
  • Grass Zone
    • Calamagrostis minima Steppe,
      • Altitude: 5,000- 4,600 m, Annual mean temperature: 0- 3.5 °C, Farming: alpacas, lamas.
    • Pycnophyllum Steppe,
      • Altitude: 4,600- 4,300 m, Annual mean temperature: 3.5- 7.5 °C, Farming: alpacas, lamas.
    • Aciachne Humid Grassland,
      • Altitude: 4,300- 3,900 m, Annual mean temperature: 7.5- 10.0 °C, Farming: alpacas, lamas, pigs; Agriculture: bitter potatoes, (oca), (oat); Fallow land: more than 8 years.
  • Shrub Zone
    • Satureja Shrub (westslope), Baccharis pentandii Shrub, with Berberis (eastslope),
      • Altitude: 3,900- 3,600 m, Annual mean temperature: 10.0- 11.5 °C, Farming: sheep; Agriculture: potatoes, oca, ulluco, barley; Fallow land: 3 to 4 years.
    • Mutisia Shrub (westslope), Baccharis pentlandii Shrub, with Siphocampylus (eastslope),
      • Altitude: 3,600- 2,700 m, Annual mean temperature: 11.5- 16.5 °C, Farming: sheep, cattle; Agriculture: wheat, (barley), peas, beans, maize up to 3,500 m with crop rotation.
    • Kaunia longipetiolata Shrub,
    • Highland Rainforest,
      • Altitude: below 2,700 m, Annual mean temperature: over 17.0 °C, Farming: cattle; Agriculture: tropical fruits, oranges, coffee, coca at around 2,000 m.[23]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Pulgar Vidal, Javier: Geografía del Perú; Las Ocho Regiones Naturales del Perú. Edit. Universo S.A., Lima 1979. First Edition (his dissertation of 1940): Las ocho regiones naturales del Perú, Boletín del Museo de Historia Natural „Javier Prado“, n° especial, Lima, 1941, 17, pp. 145-161.
  2. ^ Benavides Estrada, Juan (1999); Geografía del Perú 2do año de Secuandaria. Lima: Escuela Nueva.
  3. ^ Brigitta Schütt (2005); Azonale Böden und Hochgebirgsböden
  4. ^ Zech, W. and Hintermaier-Erhard, G. (2002); Böden der Welt – Ein Bildatlas, Heidelberg, p. 98.
  5. ^ Christopher Salter, Joseph Hobbs, Jesse Wheeler and J. Trenton Kostbade (2005); Essentials of World Regional Geography 2nd Edition. NY: Harcourt Brace. p.464-465.
  6. ^ Middle America: Altitudinal Zonation
  7. ^ Maps of the Cordillera Blanca - Peru
  8. ^ WWF Global 200: World Map of 14 Terrestrial Biomes and 867 Ecoregions
  9. ^ "Bolivian Yungas". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 
  10. ^ a b "Peruvian Yungas". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 
  11. ^ a b "Southwest Amazon moist forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 
  12. ^ "Central Andean dry puna". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 
  13. ^ a b "Central Andean puna". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 
  14. ^ "Central Andean wet puna". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 
  15. ^ "Atacama desert". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 
  16. ^ "Sechura desert". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 
  17. ^ "Gurupa varzea". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 
  18. ^ "Monte Alegre varzea". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 
  19. ^ "Purus varzea". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 
  20. ^ "Iquitos varzea". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 
  21. ^ "Central Andean wet puna". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 
  22. ^ Klimadiagramme weltweit - Europa
  23. ^ Seibert, Paul; Farbatlas Südamerika, Verlag Eugen Ulmer, 1996.