The Nazca Lines are a series of large ancient geoglyphs in the Nazca Desert, in southern Peru. The largest figures are up to 370 m (1,200 ft) long. 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, approximately 400 km (250 mi) south of Lima. Although some local geoglyphs resemble Paracas motifs, scholars believe the Nazca Lines were created by the Nazca culture between 500 BC and 500 AD. The figures vary in complexity. Hundreds are simple lines and geometric shapes; more than 70 are zoomorphic designs 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 naturally occurring reddish pebbles and uncovering the whitish/grayish ground beneath. Scholars differ in interpreting the purpose of the designs but, in general, they ascribe religious significance to them.
Because of its isolation and the dry, windless, stable climate of the plateau, the lines have mostly been preserved naturally. Extremely rare changes in weather may temporarily alter the general designs. As of 2012, the lines are said to have been deteriorating because of an influx of squatters inhabiting the lands. Contrary to the popular belief that the lines and figures can only be seen from an aircraft, they are visible from the surrounding foothills and other high places.