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Location
: Nor-East of Peru

Area: 368,852 km2

Altitude:
Minimum: 70 m.a.s.l. (Amelia)
Maximum: 220 masl (Balsapuerto)

Relief: Loreto's department is covered of a dense vegetation, with hills of few elevation and surfaces lightly wavy crossed by diverse rivers of the basin of the Amazon. Loreto is the most extensive department of the country (368,852 km2) though also he is one of the least populated.

The department of Loreto is located in the northern part of the Peruvian Jungle. It limits to the north with Ecuador and Colombia, to the south with Ucayali, to the east with Brazil, and to the west with Amazonas and San Martín.

Iquitos, the most northerly department in the country, takes in 30% of the national territory, and comprises parts of the High and Low Jungle. The weather is warm and humid with an average temperature of 17ºC (63ºF) to 20ºC (68ºF) during the months of June and July, and a highest up to 36ºC (97ºF) from the months of December through March. Even if the weather is hot during those months, that time of the year is conceived as winter. The average humidity is 84%, with strong rains all year round.

The huge region of Loreto, Peru's largest, is almost entirely forested. Besides the vast swamps and large rivers, there is an enormous number of lakes and streams. Loreto occupies 368,852 square kilometers, larger than Spain or today's Germany. but still has no paved roads penetrating the rainforest. Almost all transport is by boat. The 1990 national census shows 654,100 people living in Loreto, which gives it a density of 1.77 inhabitants per square kilometer. Deforestation is not yet the cause of most biodiversity loss in Loreto. Instead, it is the unmanaged extraction of natural resources.

The territory of the Department of Loreto, was a part of the Viceroyalty of Peru and was explored by missioneries that had their headquarters in several different points of Peru. Likewise, the discovery, navigation, and exploration of the Amazonas River by the expedition of Gonzalo Pizarro, who departed from the city of Cusco. The capital of this territory during the Colonial Period was the ancient city of Moyobamba, currently the capital of the Department of San Martín.

In the Republican Era, its territory was explored through the Amazonian rivers, by sailors and members of the Peruvian Army such as Carbajal and Portillo. Currently, the Peruvian Army, Air Force and Navy give assistence to inhabitants along the rivers and border zones, by means of an civic service established some years ago.

In the last decades of last century, Iquitos, the capital became one of the most important river ports for the trade and exporting of raw materials.

Currently, the finding of petroleum reserves gives to Loreto the hope for a better future.


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