Piura is a coastal region in northwestern Peru. The region’s capital is Piura and its largest port cities, Paita and Talara, are also among the most important in Peru. The area is known for its tropical and dry beaches.
The country’s latest decentralization program is in hiatus after the proposal to merge departments was defeated in the national referendum in October 2005. The referendum held on October 30, 2005, as part of the ongoing decentralization process in Peru, to decide whether the region would merge with the current regions of Lambayeque and Tumbes to create a new Región Norte was defeated.
The Piura Region is bordered to the north by the Tumbes Region and Ecuador, to the east by Cajamarca Region, to the south by the Lambayeque Region, and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. “Punta Pariñas” in Piura is South America’s most western point.
The territory of the Piura Region has many climate variations due to its geographical location. It is just 4 degrees south of the equator, yet receives two ocean currents at the same time: the cold Humboldt Current (13-20 °C 55-68 F) and the warm El Niño Current (20-27 °C, 68-80 F). This makes the Piura Region a land that is both tropical and arid at the same time, The Land where the Tropics meets The Desert
The coast is divided by the Peruvian subtropical desert of Sechura on the south and savanna-like scrub tropical dry forests to the center and north of the region. There are also small valleys of tropical climate, where rice and coconut fields are common, especially around the Piura and Sullana rivers.
There is a high Amazon climate (selva alta) as one goes away from the coast onto the sierra; Páramo climates and cooler temperatures appear as one climbs the sierra.
Topography is smooth in the coast and rough in the Sierra. There are many arid plains in the southern region. The Sechura Desert, located south of the Piura River, is Peru’s largest desert and one of the world’s few examples of a tropical desert; it borders a tropical terrain to the north. The Bayóvar Depression, which is the lowest point in Peru and all of the Southern Tropics, is located in this desert.
The morphological forms most common in the coast are the dry ravine that suddenly become copious when there are heavy rains, forming tropical dry forests all over. Other features are half-moon shaped dunes, the marine terraces such as those of Máncora, Talara and Lobitos. Valleys have been formed by fluvial terraces of the Chira River and Piura River.
To the east, valleys are more or less deep and have been eroded by rivers forming equatorial tropical-dry-forests. The major peak surpasses 3000 m. The Paso de Porculla, in the southwest of the territory is only 2,138 meters high and is the lowest pass of the Peruvian Andes.
The rivers crossing its territory belong both to the Pacific watershed and to the Amazon Basin. The Chira River is the most important and flows into the Pacific Ocean. The Piura River also flows into the Pacific Ocean although the flow varies greatly with the changing seasons and during severe droughts will dry up.
The climate is subtropical and tropical savanna in the center and north coast, Semi-arid in the southern coast near Lambayeque Region. Piura has a tropical dry or tropical savanna climate monsoon weather that averages 26 °C (79 F) throughout the whole year. Pleasant warm winters (May to October) that average between 25 °C and 28 °C (77 F and 82 F) during the daytime and lows around 16 °C (61 F) during the night.
Piura is covered by deserts, tropical valleys, dry equatorial forests, high Amazon climates as you reach between 1000 and 1500 meters, and a humid subtropical sierra climate if you reach over 2,000 meters. The Páramo climate is found in the higher regions of the Sierra.
Rain is scarce from May to November: it rains only from December to April at discontinuous rates due to the influence of the El Niño Current, but every so often, when the El Niño phenomenon arrives, rain is copious and makes the dry ravines become alive, giving rise not only to the impressive forests but to many floods and great landslides. El Niño occurs when ocean waters reach 27 °C (80 F). When ocean water temperatures elevate 1 or 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than 26 °C (79 F), the consequence could be catastrophic rains.
Although ocean waters can drop to 19 °C (66 °F) during the dry winter months (May to October), they can also rise to 27 °C (80 F) during the humid summer months (December to April); this calls for pleasant rains; yet if the temperatures rise 1 or 1.5 °C degrees above that, El Niño is assured.
During summer (December to April) temperatures can reach over the 40 °C (104 F) inland. During night time, high 20s or even 30s may seem unpleasant, which urge people to go to beach resorts such as Máncora or Colán.
The rest of the months have pleasant summer temperatures in the low 30s and mid 20s °C (77-90 F).
Piura is a land of unique algarrobo trees, a variety of mesquite similar to the carob, and it is the region with the most equatorial tropical dry forests in the whole Pacific.
These ecoregions carry a unique variety of orchids, birds, reptiles, plants and mammals. Piura is known for the best and oldest lime-lemons in South America as well as South America’s finest mango (tropical dry). With Lambayeque, it is the original home of Pima cotton. Piura also produces bananas, coconuts, rice and other fruits as local income.
The “Manglares de Vice” in the Sechura Province of Piura is the southernmost region of the Pacific to hold mangroves.
Its development has been favoured also by the petroleum found in the ocean of Talara Province, fishing is blessed by two ocean currents, silver mines are common and the current Bayovar Deposits are present as well.
The most important culture that developed in the Piura region was Vicús, which stood out for its ceramics and delicate work in gold. The Tallanes or Yungas, however, were the first settlers, who migrated from the Sierra. During a period that is still vague, they lived in behetrias, which were primitive settlements without a head or an organization. Later they were conquered by the Mochicas and, centuries later, by the Incas, during the rule of Tupac Inca Yupanqui.
In 1532, Francisco Pizarro founded the first Spanish city in South America on the banks of the Chira River in the Tangarará Valley. He named it San Miguel de Piura. The founding date is still subject of controversy. However, during the 450th anniversary celebrations, July 15 was adopted as the official date.
In 1534, due to a lack of sanitary conditions, the capital was moved to Monte de los Padres (Morropón); in 1578, and for the same reason, it was moved again, this time to San Francisco de la Buena Esperanza (Paita). In 1588, the permanent attacks of the English pirates and privateers forced a final relocation of the capital to Piura.
During colonial times, life went by peacefully. Yet, the raids against the Spanish authorities led by Admirals Borran and Cochrane, members of the libertarian expedition of José de San Martín, woke the longing for liberty in the minds of the local people.
Piura is host to a stunning mestizo culture, since all races mix here. Local Piuranos have a different accent from their neighbours at both sides since: they tend elongate their syllables in a similar ways to northern Mexicans. Piuranos have their own proud slang. Locals for example, call themselves Churres (popular term used for a young Piuran or northern person).
Piuranos are characterized by their witty minds, melancolic Tondero music and welcoming personalities. Like all Peruvians, they are heavy drinkers of chicha de jora, pisco or beer and all of them have a tendency towards creativity and art as their source of income.
Gastronomical dishes like the Piuran Secho de Chavelo (the capital’s dish), Algarrobina cocktails, many types of ceviches and other seafoods like Majarisco and Pasao al Agua. Piura is famed for its natilla sweets as well.
The warm climate of this region forbids hard labour from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., so it is common tradition to take siestas and better to wake up early to get important stuff done before noon.
Processions and religious folk is passionately practiced by locals. One of them is Cristo de Ayabaca.
Popular crafts are the Chulucana Pottery and handy hats and silversmith arts made from the Catacaos Province.
Northern cowboys can still be seen today wandering the deserts of Sechura, Catacaos and the forests of Morropon transporting their goods using donkeys and mules. They seem to resemble physically the “American Southwest” cowboys, or Argentinian gauchos and Mexican charros. They are noted not only for their abilities to sing and play Cumanana and Tondero but as silversmiths that work the beautiful filigree earrings, leathers, hats, wooden and silver utensils of Catacaos region.
The Tondero and Cumanana are the traditional music of the Piura Region. The great exponents of these passionate rhythms are the cowboys called piajenos. Apparently they point to have a Roma, or Gypsy, origin.
Chicha music, now called Tecnocumbia (originally a Peruvian styled cumbia), is the modern version of popular music all over, as well as Salsa among youngsters.
Another great tradition that is sung by all northern Peruvians is the famous Peruvian Waltz, well practiced by traditional musicians (northern Peruvians have their style).
One of the best known tourist attractions in Piura is La Esmeralda beach, known as Colan for it is located near the town of Colan. Colan beach is a very long beach with warm waters. Local people like to go there during holidays.
There are also great spots for surfers, like Mancora Beach and Cabo Blanco.
Piura is served by the Cap. FAP Guillermo Concha Iberico International Airport.
Piura is host to a stunning mestizo culture (one of the oldest in South America, Piura is the third Spanish city founded on that continent) most famous for gastronomical dishes like Seco de chabelo, algarrobina-based drinks, many types of seafood and fish, like ceviche and Natilla Sweets. Popular crafts are the Chulucana Pottery and Catacaos is famous for its “Hats” and “Silversmith” arts. The small town of Simbila, is very popular for its handcrafts and pottery. The tondero and cumanana are the traditional music of mestizo Piura and northern parts of Lambayeque. There are also several famous Peruvian Waltz that came from these regions (northern Peruvians have their own style).
Máncora is a town and beach resort in the Piura Region, in northwestern Peru. It is located in the Talara Province and is capital of the Máncora District. The town has 8,852 inhabitants (1999).
The Pan-American Highway serves as Máncora’s main street. The area is known for its turquoise beaches and good waves, making it a surfing destination. The beach town has over 30 different beach resorts that receive tourists from all over South America. It has a large proportion of restaurants and nightclubs for such a small town of 10,000. Resorts rim the nearby kilometers of beaches connected by a road. Most people arrive by bus, private car, or plane from the Talara Airport or Tumbes Airport. Currently, tourism is booming as a large influx of tourists take to the beaches all year round. In 2005, 340,000 tourists visited Mancora. Las Pocitas de Mancora, 10 minutes South, is one of the prettiest of all the area
This beach location is favored by two ocean currents year round: the cold Humboldt Current 14 to 19 C° and the warm Niño Current 21 to 27 C°, giving it a tropical-dry climate with ocean waters averaging around 24 C°.
Summers last from December to April and are very hot. Rain is usual during the night and the temperature can reach over 38 °C. The rest of the year is dry, breezy, and sunny. The temperature during winter and spring never falls below 25 C° during daytime and is usually around the high 20’s. Night temperatures drop to around 17 C°
Máncora is very famous for doing sports: It has a bay that attracts a lot of people for Surfing. Furthermore, the winds are great for Kitesurfing. During the Peruvian summer there are a lot of people travelling to Máncora just for these activities.