The Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. They were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The high, arid plateau stretches more than 80 km (50 mi) between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana about 400 km south of Lima. Although some local geoglyphs resemble Paracas motifs, scholars believe the Nazca Lines were created by the Nazca culture between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. The hundreds of individual figures range in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, orcas, and lizards. Hundreds are simple lines or geometric shapes; more than 70 are zoomorphicdesigns of animals such as birds, fish, llamas, jaguars, and monkeys, or human figures. Other designs include phytomorphic shapes such as trees and flowers.
The designs are shallow lines made in the ground by removing the reddish pebbles and uncovering the whitish/grayish ground beneath. The largest figures are over 200 m (660 ft) across. Scholars differ in interpreting the purpose of the designs but, in general, they ascribe religious significance to them.
Due to its isolation and to the dry, windless, and stable climate of the plateau, the lines have mostly been naturally preserved. Extremely rare changes in weather may temporarily alter the general designs. As of 2012, the lines are said to have been deteriorating due to an influx of squatters inhabiting the lands.