The Yunga region is one of the eight natural regions in which the territory of Peru is divided. The name “Yunga” comes from Quechua, and can be translated as “zone of valleys” or “warm valley”.
It is the second region of the country taking into account its altitude: it is between 500 and 2,300 meters above sea level. This area is also known by the name of high jungle, mount, mountain brow and jungle browbone mountain.
The Yunga region is famous for the production of fruits. In this area, guava, avocado, pacae, apple, custard apple and plum are grown, to name a few fruit trees.
This region begins in the north of Peru and extends south, crossing the entire territory.
In fact, this area does not end in the Peruvian territory, but continues towards Bolivia and reaches Argentina. For this reason, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has classified Yunga as a global ecoregion.
Types of Yunga
Two types of Yunga are distinguished in Peru. On one side is the maritime Yunga and, on the other, the river Yunga. The maritime one is located in the coastal zone to the west of the Peruvian Andes, while the fluvial one is located in the jungle zone east of the Andes.
In addition to the location, there are various differences between the two Yunga regions. Among these, its position with respect to sea level stands out. The maritime Yunga is between 500 and 1,000 meters above sea level, while the fluvial Yunga is between 1,000 and 2,300 meters above sea level.
Unlike the other natural areas of Peru, the Yunga region is not homogeneous in terms of its physical characteristics, its flora and its fauna.
This is because the river Yunga and the maritime Yunga are separated by a large mountain formation, generating variations in the climate. This climatic difference translates into the appearance of diverse ecosystems.
For example, in the maritime Yunga there is an abundance of xerophytic vegetation (typical of desert areas), while in the fluvial Yunga jungle vegetation prevails (dense forests and dwarf forests).
This ecoregion has the highest number of endemic species in the country. It is also one of the best known for the variety and beauty of its plant species.
The Yunga region is located on both sides of the Andes Mountains that cross the Peruvian territory.
Etymology of “Yunga “
The word “Yunga” comes from the Quechua voice yunka , which means “warm valley”.
In the pre-Columbian period, this term was used to refer to the valleys found in the north of the country and near the Peruvian coasts.
Delimitation of the Yunga region with the other Peruvian natural regions
When the Europeans arrived on the American territory, they divided Peru into three regions: the coastal region, the jungle region and the mountains. However, this division was superficial because it only took into account the most obvious characteristics of the territory.
Years later, Javier Pulgar Vidal (a Peruvian geographer) organized the country’s territory into eight zones, taking into account altitude, relief, fauna and flora.
In this way, the Yunga region emerged (between 500 meters above sea level and 2,300 meters above sea level). This is a transition zone between the coastal region and the Quechua region.
It should be noted that, of all the regions, the Yunga is the one with the least homogeneous relief, flora and fauna. This is because this region is divided in two by the Cordillera de los Andes.
In the Peruvian territory, the Yunga region is divided into two sub-regions. These are the maritime Yunga and the river Yunga.
Taking into account the other regions of Peru, the Yunga is located between the coastal region and the Quechua region. The maritime Yunga is close to the coasts, while the river Yunga is closer to the mountains.
The most important aspects of both Yunga are presented below.
1- Maritime or coastal Yunga
The Maritime Yunga is located west of the Peruvian Andes, near the country’s littoral zone.
It is located between 500 meters above sea level. and the 1,000 masl.
– Weather conditions
The climate is usually warm and semi-arid with temperatures between 20 ° C and 27 ° C.
Humidity levels are high at night but decrease during the day. Rainfall is scarce and the sun is present for most of the year.
– Main cities
Some of the cities that are within the Yunga maritime region are Nazca (at 520 masl.), Tacna (at 562 masl.), Chosica (at 861 masl.) And Moquegua (at 1,410 masl.).
2- River Yunga
The river Yunga is located east of the Peruvian Andes, near the jungle area of the country.
It is located between 1,000 meters above sea level. and 2,300 meters above sea level.
– Weather conditions
The weather is warm. The temperature ranges between 15 ° C and 23 ° C. Unlike the maritime Yunga, the humidity levels are higher.
Rainfall is abundant throughout the year, exceeding 400 millimeters per year. The highest levels of rainfall are recorded between the months of December and March.
– Main cities
The most important cities found in the river Yunga are Chapoyas, Abancay, Quillabamba, Sandia, Oxapampa and Huánuco.
Terminology: Yunga or Yungas?
“Yunga” and “Yungas” are two terms that are used to refer to natural regions of Peru. However, they do not have the same meaning.
The term Yunga refers to the two areas found on each side of the Peruvian Andes: Yunga maritime and Yunga fluvial.
For its part, the term “Yungas” is used only to refer to the jungle area that is located east of the Andes. This means that the river Yunga can also be called by the name “Yungas”.
The relief of the Yunga region is made up of valleys and mountains. Usually rock formations abound.
Due to the proximity to the Peruvian Andes, many of these valleys are deep, marked and narrow, with inter-Andean ravines. However, as they move away from the Andes, these formations soften.
The same is true for mountain formations: the closer the Andes mountains are, the steeper and more abrupt they will be.
The lower altitude areas (between 1,000 and 2,000 meters above sea level) are made up of gentle hills, which form what is known as the “mountain brow”.
Generally speaking, the climate of the Yunga regions is warm. However, the altitude and the proximity to the sea can generate increases or decreases in temperature.
As a rule, the climate is hot between 500 meters above sea level, and 1,500 meters above sea level. As you go higher, the temperature decreases.
Two seasons are distinguished: a dry season and a rainy season. The rains in the Yunga region are more abundant than in any other area of Peru. These are also affected by altitude: from 1,800 meters above sea level, rainfall is more abundant.
Because the Yunga is divided into two subregions, the flora is very varied. Above all, fruit species abound. For this reason, it is said that Yunga is a mainly fruit-growing region.
Likewise, the flora of this region is considered to be one of the most beautiful and exuberant, not only in Peru but in the entire tropical region of the world.
Among the plant species, the huarampo, plum, avocado, apple tree, guava, molle, pacae, white cabuya, blue cabuya, cherimoya, pitajaya, reed, broom, hurango and tarra.
In some areas of the mountains, cacti, aloe, maguey and achupallas are also found. Likewise, you can find dozens of species of orchids, begonias and ferns.
– Flora of the river Yunga subregion
The flora of the fluvial Yunga subregion is distinguished from the maritime one by the fact that it has dense and humid forests, typical of the Amazon rainforest.
However, in the areas closest to the Andean mountain range, the jungle vegetation gives way to a dwarf forest, with smaller trees (that do not exceed 10 meters in height), mosses, orchids, lichens and grasslands.
– Flora of the maritime Yunga subregion
The most distinctive element of the maritime Yunga subregion is the desert or xerophilous vegetation, such as the chuná, the pichu and the curis.
Pastures such as maicillo, purslane and yuyo also abound. In general, the flora of the maritime region is less abundant than that of the river region.
In the Yunga region there is a great variety of animal species. Some of these are the river wolf, the monkey, the ferret, the coati, the grass cat, the jaguar, the weasel, the peccary and the tapir.
More than 20% of the world’s butterfly species are found in this region. There are also multiple species in danger of extinction, among which the black bear stands out.
On the other hand, it is possible to speak of distinctive species of each one of the Yunga subregions. Here are some of these:
– Fauna of the maritime Yunga subregion
Among the typical birds of the maritime Yunga, the pigeons, the turtle doves, the chaucato, the taugigaray and the hummingbird stand out. Insects that carry malaria and similar diseases are also found.
Reptiles include lizards and lizards, snakes and snakes. The fox and the puma are the most representative mammals of this subregion.
– Fauna of the river Yunga subregion
The fauna of the river Yunga is characterized by the presence of mammals, among which the spectacled bear and the fox stand out. Other mammals that can be found in the area are tigrillos and pumas.
Protected areas of the Yunga region
Due to the diversity of animal and plant species found in the Yunga region and the presence of organisms in danger of extinction, the Peruvian government has declared several protected areas.
Among these protected areas, the Manu National Park stands out, which is one of the largest and most important wildlife reserves.
It is also one of the areas in charge of conserving the flora and fauna of the Amazon jungle. Other protected areas of the Yunga region are:
– Alto Mayo protection forest.
– Cordillera Azul National Park.
– Historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu.
– Pampa Hermosa National Sanctuary.
– Rio Abiseo National Park.
– Otishi National Park.
– Pui-Pui protection forest.
– Tingo María National Park.
– Yanachaga-Chemillén National Park.
The Yunga region according to the World Wide Fund for Nature
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Peru there are three regions that can be identified with the name “Yunga”: the Peruvian Yunga, the Bolivian Yunga and montane forests.
1- Peruvian Yunga
The Peruvian Yunga is defined by the WWF as the natural region of Peru with the largest endemic population of that country.
2- Bolivian Yunga
In the Sandia province of Peru there is the continuation of the Bolivian Yunga.
This region shares characteristics with both the Yunga of Peru and the Yunga of Bolivia.
3- Montane forests
The third case in which the term “Yunga” is used according to the WWF is to refer to the high forests found in Cajamarca, Amazonas and Piura. These montane forests connect with the Cordillera of Ecuador.
In addition to these three conceptions of the term, it can be added that, according to the WWF, Yunga is a transnational ecoregion.
This is because this region begins in the north of Peru, crosses Bolivia and extends to the north of Argentina.
Some authors even indicate that the region extends north, to Colombia and Venezuela.
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