Madre de Dios Region

Madre de Dios Region
Madre de Dios Region
—  Region  —
Madre de Dios River, Puerto Maldonado

Location of the Madre de Dios Region in Peru
Country Peru
Subdivisions 3 provinces and 11 districts
Capital Puerto Maldonado
 – President Rafael Ríos
 – Total 85,300.54 km2 (32,934.7 sq mi)
Highest elevation 3,932 m (12,900 ft)
Lowest elevation 183 m (600 ft)
Population (2005 Census)
 – Total 92,024
 – Density 1.1/km2 (2.8/sq mi)
Dialing code 082
ISO 3166 code PE-MDD
Principal resources Cotton, coffee, sugar cane, cacao beans, Brazil nuts, palm oil, gold, rice, coconut, wood.
Poverty rate 36.7%
Percentage of Peru's GDP 0.37%

Madre de Dios is a region in southeastern Peru, bordering Brazil, Bolivia and the Peruvian regions of Puno, Cusco and Ucayali. Its capital is the city of Puerto Maldonado. The name of the region is a very common Spanish language designation for the Virgin Mary, literally meaning Mother of God.



The region is almost entirely low-lying Amazonian rainforest. The climate is warm and damp, with average temperatures around 26 °C (79 °F) [max.: 34 °C (93 °F), min.: 21 °C (70 °F)]. The rainy season is from December to March, when torrential rainfall causes rivers to swell and often burst their banks. Annual precipitation can be as much as 3 metres (9.8 ft).

The North-Western boundary with the Cusco Region is known as the Isthmus of Fitzcarrald, a series of small and low mountains that separate the Madre de Dios River and the Urubamba/Ucayali River basins.

Notable rivers in the Madre de Dios River watershed are:

Due to the vast size of the area and its low population density, rivers provide the best way of getting from one town to another. Human activity is invariably confined to riverbanks. A number of explorers have searched for the lost city of Paititi in the jungle within the region, although a new road is quickly changing that.[1]

The only important highway is between the city of Puerto Maldonado and Cusco, 510 kilometres (320 mi) away in the Cusco Region. However, it is part of the new-built Interoceanic Road between the Pacific & Atlantic Oceans, passing by the border town of Iñapari on the Acre river and flights between Cusco and Puerto Maldonado remain the most common and quicker method of transport between the two. From Puerto Maldonado there is a road to the mining town of Laberinto ("Labyrinth", about 55 kilometres (34 mi) long). A second road is between the village of Cusco and Itahuania (into the Manu National Park). It is a roughly 350 kilometres (220 mi)-long single-track road that is hard to pass in the rainy season. It also has a dirt road towards the native community of Infierno ('Hell') where the last Ese'ejas (or 'Guarayos') are still living, with their famous chief Agustín Shapaja, who led the famous expedition to the Candamo and was featured in the documentary "El Candamo, la Ultima Tierra sin Hombres (The Candamo, The Last Land without Men).

Economy, Natural Resources and Environment

Madre de Dios depends heavily on natural products and raw materials for its economy. There is virtually no manufacturing industry. The main agricultural products are:

  1. Cotton
  2. Coffee
  3. Sugarcane
  4. Cacao beans
  5. Brazil nuts
  6. Palm oil

Gold mining is the only other large industry of the region, confined mainly to the beaches of the Inambari and Madre de Dios rivers. Some environmentalists claim this presents both a major environmental and public health problem[citation needed]. Most gold miners use liquid mercury to extract gold particles from the river silt[citation needed]. They often handle the toxic liquid mercury with their bare hands[citation needed]. To purify the gold particles, the mercury is burned off. After being vaporized, mercury particles contaminate the surrounding ecosystems[citation needed]. Mercury bioaccumulates throughout the food chain to become concentrated in top predators such as large river fish and carnivorous birds[citation needed]. Exposure to or the ingestion of mercury have been shown to result in a variety of neurological and congenital health problems[citation needed].

Ecotourism is a major emerging industry in Madre de Dios. A number of lodges in Manu and Tambopata are becoming part of this huge Vilcabamba-Amboró Corridor. A new legislation that encourages private investors to create concessions for conservation or ecotourism, are extending the reaches of the public protected areas. This integration includes also native communities that are increasingly involved in ecotourism. The importance of including the local population relies on the long term incentives it creates for leaving standing forest. Sustainability can only be achieved, if the local population is integrated in conservation initiatives as well as economic cycles.

Other serious environmental problems in the region include loss of forest cover for agriculture, illegal selective logging (particularly for mahogany) and illegal poaching of endangered species (particularly the Giant River Otter, Amazonian turtles, caimans, and monkeys and macaws as pets)[citation needed].

The national bird of Peru, the Andean Cock-of-the-rock, is also found in Madre de Dios and suffers from poaching and habitat disturbance[citation needed].

Political division

The region is divided into three provinces (provincias, singular: provincia), which are composed of 11 districts (distritos, singular: distrito). The provinces, with their capitals in parentheses, are:

Popular Culture

In the novel Primeval: Shadow of the Jaguar most of the story takes place in Madre de Dios, where a time anomaly has opened and let a pack of prehistoric Thylacosmilus into the modern world. The region is claimed to be home to many ancient Inca ruins, several jungle tribes and endangered species like the Capybara, jaguar and giant river otter.

Places of interest

See also


  1. ^ BBC News, 28 January 2011, Amazon road set to give Brazil and Peru new trade route, by Dan Collyns.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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