Andes Mountains, Dividing Peru Between Arid Coast and Rainforest
The country of Peru, in western South America, covers 1,285,220 km² (496,193 sq mi). The Andes mountains run parallel to the Pacific Ocean, dividing the country into three geographic regions.
The costa (coast), to the west, is a narrow plain, largely arid except for valleys created by seasonal rivers. Here, much of the land along the coast appears brown and dry.
The sierra (highlands) is the region of the Andes; it includes the Altiplano plateau as well as the highest peak of the country, the 6,768 m (22,205 ft) Huascarán. The peaks of the Andes, capped with snow in the image, are the source of many Peruvian rivers.
The third region is the selva (jungle), a wide expanse of flat terrain covered by the Amazon rainforest that extends east. Much of this wet landscape is covered by clouds in the image, however the visible parts show a dark, fertile green color. Almost 60% of the country’s area is located within this region, giving Peru the fourth largest area of tropical forest in the world after Brazil, Congo and Indonesia.
Peru, unlike other equatorial countries, does not have an exclusively tropical climate; the influence of the Andes and the Humboldt Current cause great climatic diversity within the country.