Tumbes is a coastal region in northwestern Peru. 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.
Morphologically, four zones can be defined in the region: the delta of the Tumbes 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 Sanctuary (which is part of the Gulf of Guayaquil-Tumbes mangroves), the Cerros de Amotape National Park and the Tumbes Reserved Zone.
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.
The provinces, with their capitals in parenthesis, are:
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 Spanish 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 Ecuador'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. This region's heroic acts of resistance against Ecuador were rewarded by the establishment of Tumbes, a former province of Piura, as a full-fledged Department of Peru.
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 (Región Norte). However, voters in the region voted against the merge.
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.
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 peppers, eggs, olives, raisins, flour, coriander and other herbs.
Other specialties include the shrimp omelette, chupe de cangrejos, and crabmeat omelette.