Location: Southeast of Perú.
Area: 85,183 km2
Minimum: 183 m.a.s.l. (Puerto Maldonado)
Maximum: 500 m.a.s.l. (Boca Manu)
Relief: Madre de Dios formed principally by alluvial plains of three and up to four levels of terraces. The lowest are submitted to annual floods and are generally swampy. The southern part of Madre de Dios is dominated by the buttresses of Carabaya's Mountain chain. In the western part, in the zone where there is the east of the Rio Manu, there exist hills of few elevation, between which there is located Fitzcarrald's Isthmus, which they form the waterdivide between the rivers Madre de Dios and Urubamba.
This is the less populated department of Peru. Its gold richness promises a good future; it also has plenty of flora and wild fauna. The meridional side of its territory is rough because of the hillsides of the Cordillera de Carabaya. In the central and northern zones, of the Low Jungle, it has a relief made up mainly by plains with little roughness. These are alluvial plains formed by three up to four level terraces. The lower ones have anual floods and generally are swampy. By the west of the department, where arises the Manu River, there are low altitude hills which divide the aters of the Madre de Dios and Urubamba rivers. In these hills, and separating the risings of the Cashpajali River, is the Fitzcarrald Isthmus, so called as a homage to its discoverer.
This department's territory is crossed by a dense hydrographical system whose main river is the Madre de Dios, navigable and with an important forestal richness. Among the most important rivers are the Manu, Tahuamanu, Tambopata, Inambari and Heath.
The territory of Madre de Dios, in the areas near the Cusco provinces of Paucartambo and Quispicanchis, was known since the Inca Era. Inca Roca, first and Túpac Yupanqui, later, arrived to the higher part of the watershed of Alto Madre de Dios, incorporating it to the Empire.
In 1566, Mr. Juan Alvarez de Maldonado, heading an important expedition, went through the territory of Madre de Dios and navigated this river. However, the most important expedition was leaded by Mr. Faustino Maldonado, in 1860. This explorer, after going through the Ucayali and Urubamba rivers, arrived to Cusco. After staying two months in this city, he departed to Madre de Dios navigating by the Piñipiñi river and later by the Madre de Dios river, following the Madeira aiming the Amazonas, with the purpose of going back to the starting point. Lamentably he died drowned in the waters of the Madeira river, in the bad pasage known as the "Calderón del Diablo", and the expedition continued headed by his son, who, with th survivers, completed the scheduled route.
By the end of the XIX century and beginning of the current one, the "caucheros" (rubber men) go through it territory looking for the rubber and shiringa trees. The most conspicuous was Fermín Fitzcarrald, ho, in 1893 discovered the "Varadero de Fitzcarrald", nowadays known as the "Itsmo de Fitzcarrald".