Peruvian Altiplano

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Peruvian Altiplano near Pucara, Peru. 

The Altiplano (Spanish for “high plain”) or Andean Plateau, in west-central South America, where the Andes are at their widest, is the most extensive area of high plateau on Earth outside of Tibet. The bulk of the Altiplano lies within Bolivian and Peruvian territory while its southern parts lie in Chile and Argentina. The Altiplano plateau hosts several cities like Puno, Oruro, Potosí, Cuzco and La Paz, the capital of Bolivia. 

Its height averages about 3,750 meters (12,300 feet), slightly less than that of the Tibetan Plateau. The Altiplano is noted for hypoxic air caused by very high elevation. 

In extentum, the climate is cool and humid to semi-arid and even arid, with mean annual temperatures that vary from 3°C near the western mountain range to 12°C near Lake Titicaca; and total annual rainfall that ranges between less than 200 mm to the south west to more than 800 mm near and over Lake Titicaca. The diurnal cycle of temperature is very wide, with maximum temperatures in the order of 12 to 24°C and the minimum in the order of -20 to 10°C. 

The Atacama Desert, one of the driest areas on the planet, lies to the southwest of the Altiplano; to the east lies the humid Amazon Rainforest.

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