Peru is a large, mountainous country on the Pacific coast of South America that borders Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east, and Chile to the south. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west. There are three natural zones:
The Costa region, which contains
Lima (the capital), is a narrow coastal plain consisting
of large tracts of desert broken by fertile valleys. The cotton, sugar and rice
plantations and most of the so-far exploited oil fields lie in this area, as
does the majority of the population. The best roads run along the coast, having
straight, flat paths ahead of them, and travel times are usually good.
The highland Sierra contains the Andes, with peaks over 6,000m (20,000ft),
most of the country's mineral resources (silver, zinc, lead, copper and gold)
and the greater part of its livestock. Roads in this area wind up, down and
around mountains, so travelling in this area is often time-consuming.
The Selva (jungle), an area of fertile, subtropical land, lies between the
Andes and the borders with Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador. The Amazonian
jungle has vast natural resources. The absence of land communications, however,
left the area largely uncharted until full-scale oil exploration began in 1973.
Even today roads barely penetrate the region. Some areas are best reached by