Peru is the third-largest country in South America, after Brazil and Argentina, with 1,285,216 square kilometers of territory. It is situated in the central-western part of the subcontinent, on the Pacific coast, between 81º19´35” and 68º30´11” longitude (west) and 0º01´48” and 18º21´05” latitude (south).
The Andes Mountains cross the country from north to south, forming diverse geographical regions at varying altitudes and with distinct climates and creating 84 of the 115 life zones known to exist on the planet.
The most common way to define Peru in geographical terms is to divide it into three regions: the coastal desert strip, the rugged mountain ranges dotted with small highland valleys, and the Amazon basin with its lowland forests located to the east of the Andes.
However, since 1941 the Pan-American Institute of Geography and History has recognized eight geographical regions within Peruvian territory: Chala, or the coastal strip to an altitude of 500 meters; Yunga, which is composed of valleys and ravines situated between 500 and 2300 meters on the western slopes of the Andes (maritime Yunga) and between 1000 and 2,300 meters on both sides of the mountains; Jalca or Sunni, between 4,100 meters and 4,800 meters (the ideal altitude for llamas, alpacas, vicuñas and guanacos, as well as the majestic condor); Janca, above 4,800 meters; Rupa Rupa, or high jungle, on the eastern slopes of the Andes between 1000 and 400 meters; and, finally, Omagua, or the lowland forest of the Amazon basin, ranging in altitude from 400 to 80 meters.
Politically, the country is divided into 24 departments and the constitutional province of Callao. The departments are divided into a total of 194 provinces, which are subdivided into 1,828 districts.