La Selva, or Peruvian Amazonia, is the area between the eastern foothills of the Peruvian Andes and the rain forests of the Amazon Basin. It is here that the lower slopes of the western Andes merge with the heavily forested tropical lowlands.
La Selva: Peruvian Amazonia
La Selva means the Amazon Rainforest to Peruvians. Literally translated, it means "the jungle." It is one of the three principal geographic regions of Peru, along with La Costa (the coast) and La Sierra or Los Montañas (the highlands or mountains).
La Selva is the area between the eastern foothills of the Peruvian Andes and the enormous rain forests of the Amazon Basin. It is here that the lower slopes of the western Andes merge with the heavily forested tropical lowlands. An area of dense cloud forests is found in the zone immediately adjacent to the Andes.
The region is an enormous part of Peru, covering approximately 60% of the country. However, the large area is home to only about 5% of the country's population.
Map showing the geographical regions of Peru, including La Selva in green
Peruvian Amazonia stretches from the eastern boundaries of the Andes Mountains, west to the borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia. Peru hosts the second largest portion of the Amazon Rainforest, after Brazil.
The root of the Amazon lies in the heart of Peruvian Amazonia, at the point where two big rivers, the Marañon and the Ucayali, flow together and form the Amazon River.
Another important source of the Amazon River is the Urubamba River. It flows from Peru's southern Andes, northwards through the highlands, where it joins the Ucayali River. On its way it passes magnificent sites like Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, as well as the villages of Pisac, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo and passes through the Pongo de Mainique, a white-water gorge.
Many indigenous peoples, such as the Aguaruna, Cocama-Cocamilla and Urarina, inhabit the rain forest; some in relative isolation from the rest of the world.
There are a number of small cities located within the Peruvian Amazon region, as well as the somewhat larger cities of Iquitos and Pucallpa. Other cities include Puerto Maldonado, Moyobamba, Tarapoto, San Ramon, La Merced, Satipo, Tingo Maria and Yurimaguas.
Peruvian Amazonia is one of the most biologically diverse areas on Earth. As a nation, Peru has the largest number of bird species in the world and the third-largest number of mammals; 44% of bird species and 63% of mammal species inhabit the region.
One of the largest nature reserve in La Selva is Manú National Park, a globally-renowned haven of terrestrial biodiversity, at the meeting point of the Tropical Andes and the Amazon Basin. The region also hosts the Tambopata National Reserve, a massive subtropical rain forest reserve, nearly one-third the size of Costa Rica.