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Punta Sal

Tumbes is a coastal region in northwestern Perumarker. Due to the region's location near the Equator it has a warm climate, with beaches that are considered among the finest in Peru. Despite its small area, this region has been privileged with a great variety of ecosystems.

The name "Tumbes" originates from either Tumpis, a group of native peoples from the area, the word tumbos, a species of Passiflora that used to abound in the area, or the name of the Tumba cacique, whose son founded and populated the area.


The Tumbes Region is bordered by the Ecuadorianmarker provinces of El Oro and Loja on the east; Peru's Piura Region on the south; and by the Pacific Oceanmarker on the north and west.

Morphologically, four zones can be defined in the region: the delta of the Tumbesmarker and Zarumilla rivers; an alluvial plain north of the Tumbes River, with dry, low-depth ravines; ancient terraces that have been strongly eroded in the Máncora area; and the Amotape mountain range in the east and south, ending at El Barco Mountain. The delta of the Tumbes river is shallow, and when the tide is low, little sandy keys show up, which get covered by mangrove vegetation.

Despite its small area— it is the second-smallest region in Peru— Tumbes has a great variety of ecosystems: mangroves, dry forests, the only coastal tropical forests in Peru, and a rich and warm sea. Around 50% of the region's territory is covered by three protected natural areas: the Manglares de Tumbes National Sanctuarymarker (which is part of the Gulf of Guayaquil-Tumbes mangroves), the Cerros de Amotape National Park and the Tumbes Reserved Zone.


Tumbes has a warm and humid tropical climate in the north and center of its region and a dry tropical or tropical savanna climate in the south. Temperatures range from a maximum high of 40°C (over 42° during El Niño events) a minimum low of 18°C and a yearly average of around 27°C. The rainy season, which is more severe during El Niño, is from December to March.


Basically composed of a large mestizo population rooted in a mixture between the pre-incan Tumpis and Tallanes tribes, the Spanish, creoles, the African slaves, including mulatos or zambos, and a smaller oriental Cantonese community.


According to the 1993 Census, the Tumbes Region has a population of 155,521 inhabitants, 53% of which (82,426) are male and 47% (73,095) are female.

, the Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática esimates the region's population to be 215,634.


The majority of the region's residents (98.3%) speak Spanish as their native tongue; other languages spoken are Quechua (0.4%), foreign languages (0.1%), Aymara (60 speakers, 0.0%), and other indigenous languages (0.1%).


Immigrants from other regions make up 29.4% of the population; 0.2% of residents were born in a foreign country. The largest immigrant groups are from the regions of Piura (16.9% of the total population), Lambayeque (3.7%), and the Lima Province/Lima Region (2.8%).


The population is spread out with 49.4% under the age of 20, 10.7% from 20 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 9.7% from 45 to 64, and 3.5% who are 65 years of age or older.


The illiteracy rate in the region is 9.5%, while 90.4% of the population are able to read and write.

Secondary education has been completed by 31.8% of the population and 4.5% also have graduated from non-university higher education, while 2.3% have complete university studies. 45.9% only have attended primary education and 5.9% have not had any education.

Political division

Political map of the Tumbes region
The region is divided into three provinces ( , singular: provincia), which are composed of twelve districts (distritos, singular: distrito).

The provinces, with their capitals in parenthesis, are:


Tumbes was a populated region well before the Inca Empire. The first settlers were fisher and hunters. Most recent cultures that lived there have left evidence of the refinement in their ceramics, and huacas or ruins that still stand today.

Tumbes was integrated into the Inca Empire during the reign of Sapa Inca Pachacuti. He introduced a new way of organizing the empire, but the task of integration continued during Tupac Inca Yupanqui's reign. He made it a key departure point for his campaign to conquer the Cañaris.

The adventure of the Spanishmarker Conquistadores had its beginning in Tumbes: at Puerto Pizarro Francisco Pizarro and his men landed in search of gold. After overcoming countless difficulties, the conquerors were able to land in the empire of which they had heard many legends. Undoubtedly, the thought of such a rich empire had instilled in their spirit an unwavering will to go on. With the information gathered, the conquerors set off to the rest of the empire, founding cities and overpowering their people.

During colonial times, Tumbes was no more than a crossing point where soldiers and adventurers stopped momentarily to restock themselves, and continue traveling. Tumbes, however, gained permanent importance after Peru's independence; with Ecuadormarker's long-standing territorial claims over the Loreto Region of Peru,Tumbes's closeness to the border exposed it as a resistance point in some episodes of the Ecuadorian-Peruvian War.

As part of the decentralization process in Peru, a referendum was held on October 30, 2005 to decide whether the region would merge with the regions of Piura and Lambayeque to create the new Northern Region ( ). However, voters in the region voted against the merge.


Touristic sites

The fact that Tumbes lies so close to the Equator has determined its landscape, which teems in plantlife. The beaches of Tumbes and its warm sea are ideal for surfing and scuba diving. Its pure white sands, sun and warm weather all year long, and a sea ideal for water sports, make the beach of Punta Sal one of the finest on the Peruvian coast. North of the city of Tumbes lies Puerto Pizarro, the gateway to the National Mangroves Sanctuary. The mangroves have formed vast clumps of saltwater-tolerant coastal forests which have created a unique ecosystem linking the river and the sea. The mangroves are the breeding grounds for black scallops, which are served up in Tumbes' most famous dish, the black scallop ceviche.

South of Tumbes lies Zorritos, the town which received its name from workers involved in drilling the first oilwell in the area, back in 1863. Not far from Zorritos lies the Bocapán beach, where visitors can swim in Hervideros, natural hot springs bubbling with iodized salts.

Typical dishes and beverages

The typical dishes of the Tumbesino cuisine are based on seafood— ceviche of black scallops, crab, or shrimps, or cebiche mixto— and Tumbiresas covered by yucca and banana balls broth with dominicos, meat, red pepper, eggs, olives, raisins, flour, coriander and other herbs.

Other specialties include the shrimp omelette, chupe de cangrejos, and crabmeat omelette.

A typical beverage in the region is the chinguirito, which is obtained by combining pipa (the milk of a soft coconut) with the famous grape brandy called pisco.

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