Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Loreto is a region in Peru. It is bordered by the San Martín and Amazonas regions on the west, Ecuador on the northwest, Colombia on the northeast, Brazil on the east and the Ucayali on the south. Its capital is the city of Iquitos. Covering almost one-third of Peru's territory, it is the nation's largest region and also one of the most sparsely populated ones, mainly due to its remoteness.
| Population |
907 341(2002 estimate)
|Subdivisions||6 provinces and 47 districts|
| Elevation |
70 m (Amelia)
220 m (Balsapuerto)
|Main resources||Rice, yucca, wood, fruit trees, rubber and cebu cattle.|
|Persons living in poverty||70%|
|Percentage of country's GDP||2.51%|
|Official website: www.regionloreto.gob.pe|
Loreto's large territory comprises parts of the High and Low Jungle, all of its surface is covered with thick vegetation. This territory has wide river flood beds, which are covered with rainwater and usually are swamped in summer. In these flood areas there are elevated sectors called restingas, which always stand out on the Amazonian plain, even in times of the greatest swellings. There are numerous lagoons known as cochas and tipishcas, surrounded by marshy areas with abundant grass vegetation.
Numerous rivers cross Loreto's territory, all of which are part of the Hydrographical Amazonian System. Most of them are navigable. The main river crossing the region is the Amazon, one of the world's most important rivers. Its numerous curves are always changing and sometimes make for a difficult journey. The width between banks of the Amazon sometimes measures a staggering 4 km. The Yavari river runs from Peru to Brazil, the Putumayo River serves as a border with Colombia, and the Ucayali and Marañón rivers penetrate Loreto after going through the Pongo de Manseriche.
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 region is divided into 6 provinces (provincias, singular: provincia), which are composed of 47 districts (distritos, singular: distrito). The provinces, with their capitals in parenthesis, are:
- Alto Amazonas (Yurimaguas )
- Loreto (Nauta )
- Mariscal Ramón Castilla (Caballococha )
- Maynas (Iquitos)
- Requena (Requena )
- Ucayali (Contamaná )
The first settlers in the region were grouped in small tribes that expanded in a very primitive way through the various oriental slopes of the Andes. Many of these tribes settled in the Purús, Turúa and Yaraví river basins, receiving names different from those of their lineage. They were merely family clans, who adopted the name of their chief or curaca. During Colonial times, up to 800 of these groups were detected.
It is hard to determine the number of natives in the region when the first explorers and missionaries arrived. Numbers given by chroniclers indicate that only in the first century, 100 000 natives were baptized. Presumably, when the Spanish arrived, they were almost 300 000. Later on, however, they were seized by diseases acquired in the contact with the Spanish, among others, smallpox, diphtheria, malaria, yellow fever, and whooping cough.
Even if the colonization had started several decades before, the city of Iquitos was founded in the year 1864. It is located between the Nanay river and the left margin of the Amazon river, which makes it an obliged starting point when traveling to other regions.
When the missions fell, a long period of ostracism followed, taking on most part of the 19th century. Nonetheless, this was the time when the foundations of the future political organization were being set. Also, the time when the navigation on steamboats, the rubber heyday and the foreign immigration was starting.
The Golden Age of Iquitos started at the end of the last century with the rubber fever. Since the region was very rich in this species and its price went so high, it turned into the center of all looks and ambitions in the world. This period lasted 25 years and gave way to a gigantic development once the rubber fever passed.
- First week of January. Anniversary of Iquitos. Week-long festivities to celebrate the founding of the city.
- Third week of February. Carnivals.
- June 24. Fiesta de San Juan. The local people go to the Nanay and Amazonas river banks, taking with them the traditional juanes, cooked on the eve. In front of the waters, they merrily drink and dance.
- First two weeks of August. A farm, livestock and crafts fair takes place in the small town of Santa Clara de Nanay , located 14 km (7 mi) from the city of Iquitos.
- September 7. Señora de la Natividad. Date in which the Tamashiyacu people, in the province of Maynas , honor their patron.
- December 8. Fiesta de la Purísima, celebrated in the district of Punchana , located 3 km (1.86 mi) from Iquitos
Typical dishes and beverages
The typical dishes in Loreto are very similar to those of other places in the Amazon region. It is not strange then to see that they consider the motelo or turtle meat soup or the juanes (rice tamales with chicken or fish) as typical Loretan dishes. However, what is strange to see is that vendors in the local markets offer fried or steamed monkey or lizard meat that, according to the local people, are delicious.
Other typical dishes include, cecina (pork, dried and smoked), the tacacho (coal cooked bananas, pork, and chopped onions), the chonta salad, the palometa (fish soup) and the paiche (a large fish).
To drink they serve the mazato (a beer made of yuca), natural fruit juices, such as aguaje, maracuyá (passion fruit), cocona, or a refreshing aguaje ice cream.
- Loreto region official website (in Spanish)
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