Regions of Peru

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Update 7 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes, the successor to FIPS standard 10-4, was issued with the date 2012-02-01. It recognizes the new province of Lima, and changes the status of departments and the constitutional province to regions, in accord with the reform of 2002. ISO 3166-2 adopts the same new statuses as of 2014-11-03.

I've updated the populations to show data from the 2007 census, acquired from the INEI  site.

Newsletter II-2, an update to the ISO 3166-2 standard, is dated 2010-06-30. It assigns an ISO code to the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima, which was formerly covered by the code for Lima region.

Country overview: 

Short namePERU
ISO codePE
LanguageSpanish (es), Quechua (qu)
Time zone-5


Ecuador and Peru have fought repeatedly over disputed territories in the Amazon basin. Ecuador's territorial claim extended as far as the Marañón River before 1942. In that year, the Protocol of Rio de Janeiro drew the border between Ecuador and Peru shown on most modern maps. However, Ecuador still claims some of the region adjudicated to Peru. Most of this area is now part of Loreto region.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Peru
  2. Dutch: Peru, Republiek Peru (formal)
  3. English: Republic of Peru (formal)
  4. Finnish: Peru
  5. French: Pérou m
  6. German: Peru n
  7. Icelandic: Perú
  8. Italian: Perù m
  9. Norwegian: Peru, Republikken Peru (formal)
  10. Portuguese: Peru, República f do Peru m (formal)
  11. Russian: Республика Перу (formal)
  12. Spanish: Perú, República f del Perú m (formal)
  13. Swedish: Peru
  14. Turkish: Peru Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

Corruption of village name Biruquete, possibly meaning "granary"

Primary subdivisions: 

Peru is divided into 25 regiones (sing. región) and one provincia (province).

La LibertadPE.LLLALPE1340513131,617,05025,5159,851Trujillo
Lima [Province]PE.LPLMAPE2640615157,605,7422,6651,029Lima
Madre de DiosPE.MDMDDPE174081717109,55585,18332,889Puerto Maldonado
PascoPE.PAPASPE194071919280,44925,3209,776Cerro de Pasco
San MartínPE.SMSAMPE224022222728,80851,25319,789Moyobamba
26 divisions27,412,1571,283,092495,404
  • Region: Lima [Province] is a province.
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • NUTE: Nomenclature of Statistical Territorial Units.
  • INEI: Ubigeo department code.
  • Population: 2007-10-21 census.


Note: Peru has recently adopted a Código de Ubicación Geográfica (Ubigeo for short: Geographic Location Code). Its purpose is to assign a code to each politico-administrative division of the country, on every level, including departments, provinces, and districts. The codes are found in Tabla de Codificación Geográfica del Perú, which is published by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática (INEI). Each department receives a two-digit code. In every case, this department code is the same as the last two characters of the department's FIPS code. Provinces get a four-digit code, in which the first two digits indicate the department to which the province belongs. Similarly, districts are given a six-digit code, with the first four digits representing the province. The update procedure has been followed since 1993, which implies that Ubigeo has been around at least that long.

Further subdivisions:

See the Provinces of Peru page.

Since 2002, Peru has been divided into 25 regions and one province. The regions are subdivided into provincias (provinces), which are further subdivided into partidos or distritos (districts). Lima [Province] and Callao, however, are divided directly into districts. In 2002, there were 1,828 districts.

Peru undertook a different regionalization program in 1988. Departments were grouped into regions as follows. (Later, San Martín-La Libertad region was divided into San Martín region and La Libertad region.) These regions never quite caught on, and were finally abandoned.

RegionDate createdDepartments
Andrés Avelino Cáceres1989-04-14Huánuco, Junín, Pasco
Gran Chavín1989-04-14Ancash
Grau1988-03-01Piura, Tumbes
Inka1989-01-19Apurímac, Cusco, Madre de Dios
José Carlos Mariátegui1989-04-14Moquegua, Puno, Tacna
Lima y Callao1821-08-04Callao, Lima
Los Libertadores-Wari1989-02-16Ayacucho, Huancavelica, Ica
Nor Oriental del Marañón1982-07-11Amazonas, Cajamarca, Lambayeque
San Martín-La Libertad1989-01-20La Libertad, San Martín


In addition, the first three digits of the NUTE codes define eleven NUTE regions, which are identified only as REG01, REG02, etc.

Territorial extent: 

The UN LOCODE page  for Peru lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Amazonas: Spanish name for the Amazon River (see Brazil for its derivation)
  2. Ancash: from Quechua anca: eagle
  3. Apurímac: probably Quechua apu rimak: the lord who speaks
  4. Arequipa: according to tradition, Mayta Cápac was on a voyage of conquest when some of his troops asked if they could settle at that spot. He replied "ari, qquepay", Quechua for "yes, stay".
  5. Ayacucho: valley of death, because conquistadores massacred natives there
  6. Callao: Galician for pebble, or from native word meaning "cure for spiritual ills"
  7. Catamarca: among several theories, may come from Aymara for "city of lightning", because Catequil, a lightning god, was their tutelary deity
  8. Cusco: Quechua for navel (city considered the center of the world)
  9. Huancavelica: several theories. May be named for a battle conducted by a Huanca chieftain near a mountain named Vilca
  10. Huánuco: native word for dry
  11. Junín: from Quechua words hunin and surin, meaning "broad pasture"
  12. La Libertad: = liberty, named shortly after Peru gained its independence from Spain in 1821
  13. Lima: Corruption of Rimaco (river name, meaning "speaking")
  14. Madre de Dios: = Mother of God, an epithet of the Virgin Mary
  15. Piura: Quechua pirhua: granary
  16. San Martín: named for the revolutionary hero José de San Martín (1778-1850)
  17. Tumbes: there are several theories; may be named for native chieftain Tumba

Change history (may not be complete before 1900): 

The uti possidetis of 1810 (a legal term meaning "as you now possess it", and describing a division of territory resulting from conquests) defined the boundaries of the virreinatos (viceroyalties) of Spain in South America. The viceroyalty of Lima corresponded fairly closely to modern Peru. At that time it was divided into eight intendencias (intendancies) and four gobiernos (governments). The intendancies were further subdivided into 58 partidos. The governments were Guayaquil (now in Ecuador), Callao, Mainas, and Quijos. The intendancies are those shown in the table below, plus Puno (source [2]).

An 1822 atlas states that the divisions of Peru before independence were seven intendancies, subdivided into 51 districts. The accompanying map shows an additional unorganized area in the Amazon basin, east of the intendancies. The intendancies are listed in this table, with populations as of 1795 (including indigenes, Europeans, and everyone else).

  1. 1821-07-28: Peru declared independence from Spain. It consisted initially of the departments of Huailas, La Costa, Tarma, and Trujillo.
  2. 1821-08-04: La Capital department created (later named Lima).
  3. 1822-04-26: Constitutional Congress reorganized Peru into eleven departments: Arequipa, Cusco (also spelled Cuzco), Huailas, Huamanga (Guamanga), Huancavelica (Guancavelica), La Costa, Lima, Mainas y Quijos, Puno, Tarma, and Trujillo (Truxillo). At the time of elections, Arequipa, Cusco, Huamanga, Huancavelica, and Puno were under royalist control.
  4. 1823-11-04: Huailas and Tarma departments merged to form Huánuco department, soon renamed Tarma. La Costa department merged with Lima. Mainas y Quijos department merged with Trujillo.
  5. 1823-11-12: Constitution adopted. It provided that Peru would be divided into departamentos (departments), which would be subdivided into provincias (provinces), in turn subdivided into distritos (districts), and finally into parroquias (parishes). I infer from 19th-century descriptions of the divisions of Peru that, at some times, some provinces were not in any department; such provinces apparently had the status of provincia litoral (littoral province), provincia fluvial, or provincia constitucional.
  6. 1825-01-24: Huancavelica department merged with Huamanga.
  7. 1825-02-15: Name of Huamanga department changed to Ayacucho.
  8. 1825-03-09: Name of Trujillo department changed to La Libertad; its capital renamed from Trujillo to Ciudad de Bolívar.
  9. 1825-09-13: Name of Tarma department changed to Junín.
  10. 1827-07-21: Name of capital of La Libertad changed back from Ciudad de Bolívar to Trujillo.
  11. 1832-11-21: Amazonas department split from La Libertad.
  12. 1835-04-25: Amazonas department merged with La Libertad.
  13. 1836-03-17: Estado Sud-Peruano (South Peruvian State) formed by union of Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cusco, and Puno departments.
  14. 1836-08-06: Estado Nor-Peruano (North Peruvian State) formed by union of Amazonas, Junín, La Libertad, and Lima departments.
  15. 1836-08-20: Callao and Bellavista littoral provinces split from Lima department.
  16. 1836-10-10: Huailas department split from Junín.
  17. 1836-10-20: Bolivia merged with Peru to form Confederación Perú-Boliviana, by decree. The Constitution of the confederation took effect on 1837-05-01.
  18. 1837-01-30: Piura littoral province split from La Libertad.
  19. 1839: Moquegua department split from Arequipa.
  20. 1839: Pataz province transferred from Amazonas to La Libertad.
  21. 1839-01-20: Peru-Bolivian Confederation defeated in the Battle of Yungay, and dissolved shortly thereafter. North and South Peruvian States dissolved.
  22. 1839-02-28: Name of Huailas department changed to Ancachs.
  23. 1839-04-28: Huancavelica department split from Ayacucho.
  24. 1839-11-08: Amazonas department split from La Libertad again.
  25. 1853-04-15: Mainas fluvial province split from La Libertad department, with Moyobamba as its capital.
  26. 1855-02-11: Cajamarca department split from Trujillo (ratified 1862-09-30).
  27. 1855-06-25: Ica department split from Lima.
  28. 1857-04-22: Status of Callao changed from littoral province to constitutional province.
  29. 1861-01-07: Name and status of Mainas fluvial province changed to Loreto military department.
  30. 1861-03-30: Status of Piura changed from littoral province to department.
  31. 1866-02-07: Status of Loreto changed from military department to department.
  32. 1869-01-24: Huánuco department created.
  33. 1873-04-28: Apurímac department formed from parts of Ayacucho and Cusco.
  34. 1874-12-01: Lambayeque department created.
  35. 1875-06-25: Name of Moquegua department changed to Tacna.
  36. 1883-10-20: By Treaty of Ancón, Peru ceded Tarapacá to Chile and allowed Chile to occupy Tacna for ten years. After the ten-year period, a plebiscite was to be held determining the final disposition of Tacna, but this never occurred. It may be that part of Tacna was detached and retained by Peru as Moquegua province, because we find Moquegua province listed as part of Peru in the 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.
  37. 1897-12-09: Capital of Loreto moved from Moyobamba to Iquitos.
  38. 1901-12-20: Tumbes littoral province split from Piura department.
  39. 1906-09-14: San Martín department split from Loreto.
  40. 1911: According to this edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, Peru was divided into the departments of Amazonas, Ancachs, Apurimac, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cajamarca, Cuzco, Huancavelica, Huanuco, Ica, Junin, La Libertad, Lambayeque, Lima, Loreto, Piura, Puno, and San Martin, and the provinces of Callao, Moquegua, and Tumbes.
  41. 1912-12-26: Madre de Dios department created from parts of Cusco and Puno.
  42. 1929-06-03: Tacna restored to Peru by Chile.
  43. 1936-04-03: Status of Moquegua changed from province to department.
  44. ~1940: Name of Ancachs department changed to Ancash.
  45. 1942-11-25: Status of Tumbes changed from littoral province to department.
  46. 1944-11-27: Pasco department split from Junín (former capital: Cerro de Pasco).
  47. 1980-06-18: Ucayali department split from Loreto.
  48. 2002-11-16: By Organic Law of Regional Governments, status of departments and of constitutional province changed to regions. Province of Lima split from Lima region to form a province which is not part of any region, coextensive with the Municipalidad Metropolitana de Lima (Metropolitan Municipality of Lima). Huacho became provisional capital of Lima region. This supersedes the earlier plan for a division into twelve regions. Before this change, the HASC code for Lima department was PE.LI, its FIPS code was PE15, and its capital was Lima.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Ancash: Ancachs (obsolete)
  2. Cajamarca: Caxamarca (obsolete)
  3. Callao: El Callao (variant)
  4. Cusco: Cuzco, Qosqo (variant)
  5. La Libertad: Libertad (variant)
  6. Tumbes: Tumbez (obsolete)

Population history:

Department18761907 (1)1940-06-091961-06-021972-06-021981-07-121993-07-112007-10-21
La Libertad147,541250,931404,024609,105806,3681,011,6311,287,3831,617,050
Madre de Dios 16,00025,21225,26921,96835,78869,854109,555
Pasco   150,575176,750229,701239,191280,449
San Martín (1)120,913170,456224,310331,692572,352728,808
Tacna 50,44937,51267,80095,623147,693223,768288,781
Tumbes 8,60226,47357,37875,399108,064158,582200,306
Ucayali     178,135331,824432,159


Note (1): These figures are given in the Rand McNally World Atlas, Commonwealth Edition, dated 1928, followed by a population estimate of 5,550,000 for 1921. Obviously the total population of 4,569,970 represents a date significantly earlier than 1921. Interpolating the population figures, I arrived at an estimated date of 1907 for these data. The total for this column is 10 more than the actual sum of the department populations; this discrepancy is copied from the atlas. The atlas notes that the population of San Martín is included in Puno.


  1. [1] Library of Congress country study  (retrieved 1999).
  2. [2] García Rosell, Cesar. "Los Pueblos del Perú". Lima, 1944.
  3. [3] Webb, Richard, and Graciela Fernández Baca de Valdez. "Perú en Números 1992: Anuario Estadístico". Cuánto S.A., Lima, 1992.
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