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This article is about the mountain range in South America. Andes_sentence_0

For other uses, see Andes (disambiguation). Andes_sentence_1


Andes MountainsAndes_header_cell_0_0_0
Highest pointAndes_header_cell_0_1_0
PeakAndes_header_cell_0_2_0 Aconcagua, Las Heras Department, Mendoza, ArgentinaAndes_cell_0_2_1
ElevationAndes_header_cell_0_3_0 6,961 m (22,838 ft)Andes_cell_0_3_1
CoordinatesAndes_header_cell_0_4_0 Andes_cell_0_4_1
LengthAndes_header_cell_0_6_0 7,000 km (4,300 mi)Andes_cell_0_6_1
WidthAndes_header_cell_0_7_0 500 km (310 mi)Andes_cell_0_7_1
Native nameAndes_header_cell_0_9_0 Anti  (Quechua)Andes_cell_0_9_1
CountriesAndes_header_cell_0_11_0 ListAndes_cell_0_11_1

The Andes, Andes Mountains or Andean Mountains (Spanish: Cordillera de los Andes) are the longest continental mountain range in the world, forming a continuous highland along the western edge of South America. Andes_sentence_2

The range is 7,000 km (4,350 mi) long, 200 to 700 km (124 to 435 mi) wide (widest between 18° south and 20° south latitude), and has an average height of about 4,000 m (13,123 ft). Andes_sentence_3

The Andes extend from north to south through seven South American countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. Andes_sentence_4

Along their length, the Andes are split into several ranges, separated by intermediate depressions. Andes_sentence_5

The Andes are the location of several high plateaus—some of which host major cities such as Quito, Bogotá, Cali, Arequipa, Medellín, Bucaramanga, Sucre, Mérida and La Paz. Andes_sentence_6

The Altiplano plateau is the world's second-highest after the Tibetan plateau. Andes_sentence_7

These ranges are in turn grouped into three major divisions based on climate: the Tropical Andes, the Dry Andes, and the Wet Andes. Andes_sentence_8

The Andes Mountains are the highest mountain range outside Asia. Andes_sentence_9

The highest mountain outside Asia, Argentina's Mount Aconcagua, rises to an elevation of about 6,961 m (22,838 ft) above sea level. Andes_sentence_10

The peak of Chimborazo in the Ecuadorian Andes is farther from the Earth's center than any other location on the Earth's surface, due to the equatorial bulge resulting from the Earth's rotation. Andes_sentence_11

The world's highest volcanoes are in the Andes, including Ojos del Salado on the Chile-Argentina border, which rises to 6,893 m (22,615 ft). Andes_sentence_12

The Andes are also part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges (cordillera) that consists of an almost continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western "backbone" of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica. Andes_sentence_13

Etymology Andes_section_0

The etymology of the word Andes has been debated. Andes_sentence_14

The majority consensus is that it derives from the Quechua word anti, which means "east" as in Antisuyu (Quechua for "east region"), one of the four regions of the Inca Empire. Andes_sentence_15

The term cordillera comes from the Spanish word cordel, meaning "rope", and is used as a descriptive name for several contiguous sections of the Andes, as well as the entire Andean range, and the combined mountain chain along the western part of the North and South American continents. Andes_sentence_16

Geography Andes_section_1

The Andes can be divided into three sections: Andes_sentence_17


  • The Southern Andes: in Argentina and Chile, south of Llullaillaco.Andes_item_0_0
  • The Central Andes: in Peru and Bolivia.Andes_item_0_1
  • The Northern Andes: in Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador. In the northern part of the Andes, the separate Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range is often treated as part of the Northern Andes.Andes_item_0_2

The Leeward Antilles islands Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, which lie in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Venezuela, were formerly thought to represent the submerged peaks of the extreme northern edge of the Andes range, but ongoing geological studies indicate that such a simplification does not do justice to the complex tectonic boundary between the South American and Caribbean plates. Andes_sentence_18

Geology Andes_section_2

The Andes are a MesozoicTertiary orogenic belt of mountains along the Pacific Ring of Fire, a zone of volcanic activity that encompasses the Pacific rim of the Americas as well as the Asia-Pacific region. Andes_sentence_19

The Andes are the result of tectonic plate processes, caused by the subduction of oceanic crust beneath the South American Plate. Andes_sentence_20

It is the result of a convergent plate boundary between the Nazca Plate and the South American Plate. Andes_sentence_21

The main cause of the rise of the Andes is the compression of the western rim of the South American Plate due to the subduction of the Nazca Plate and the Antarctic Plate. Andes_sentence_22

To the east, the Andes range is bounded by several sedimentary basins, such as Orinoco, Amazon Basin, Madre de Dios and Gran Chaco, that separate the Andes from the ancient cratons in eastern South America. Andes_sentence_23

In the south, the Andes share a long boundary with the former Patagonia Terrane. Andes_sentence_24

To the west, the Andes end at the Pacific Ocean, although the Peru-Chile trench can be considered their ultimate western limit. Andes_sentence_25

From a geographical approach, the Andes are considered to have their western boundaries marked by the appearance of coastal lowlands and a less rugged topography. Andes_sentence_26

The Andes Mountains also contain large quantities of iron ore located in many mountains within the range. Andes_sentence_27

The Andean orogen has a series of bends or oroclines. Andes_sentence_28

The Bolivian Orocline is a seaward concave bending in the coast of South America and the Andes Mountains at about 18° S. At this point, the orientation of the Andes turns from Northwest in Peru to South in Chile and Argentina. Andes_sentence_29

The Andean segment north and south of the Orocline have been rotated 15° to 20° counter clockwise and clockwise respectively. Andes_sentence_30

The Bolivian Orocline area overlaps with the area of maximum width of the Altiplano Plateau and according to Isacks (1988) the Orocline is related to crustal shortening. Andes_sentence_31

The specific point at 18° S where the coastline bends is known as the "Arica Elbow". Andes_sentence_32

Further south lies the Maipo Orocline a more subtle Orocline between 30° S and 38°S with a seaward-concave break in trend at 33° S. Near the southern tip of the Andes lies the Patagonian Orocline. Andes_sentence_33

Orogeny Andes_section_3

Main article: Andean orogeny Andes_sentence_34

The western rim of the South American Plate has been the place of several pre-Andean orogenies since at least the late Proterozoic and early Paleozoic, when several terranes and microcontinents collided and amalgamated with the ancient cratons of eastern South America, by then the South American part of Gondwana. Andes_sentence_35

The formation of the modern Andes began with the events of the Triassic when Pangaea began the break up that resulted in developing several rifts. Andes_sentence_36

The development continued through the Jurassic Period. Andes_sentence_37

It was during the Cretaceous Period that the Andes began to take their present form, by the uplifting, faulting and folding of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks of the ancient cratons to the east. Andes_sentence_38

The rise of the Andes has not been constant, as different regions have had different degrees of tectonic stress, uplift, and erosion. Andes_sentence_39

Tectonic forces above the subduction zone along the entire west coast of South America where the Nazca Plate and a part of the Antarctic Plate are sliding beneath the South American Plate continue to produce an ongoing orogenic event resulting in minor to major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to this day. Andes_sentence_40

In the extreme south, a major transform fault separates Tierra del Fuego from the small Scotia Plate. Andes_sentence_41

Across the 1,000 km (620 mi) wide Drake Passage lie the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula south of the Scotia Plate which appear to be a continuation of the Andes chain. Andes_sentence_42

The regions immediately east of the Andes experience a series of changes resulting from the Andean orogeny. Andes_sentence_43

Parts of the Sunsás Orogen in Amazonian craton disappeared from the surface of earth being overridden by the Andes. Andes_sentence_44

The Sierras de Córdoba, where the effects of the ancient Pampean orogeny can be observed, owe their modern uplift and relief to the Andean orogeny in the Tertiary. Andes_sentence_45

Further south in southern Patagonia the onset of the Andean orogeny caused the Magallanes Basin to evolve from being an extensional back-arc basin in the Mesozoic to being a compressional foreland basin in the Cenozoic. Andes_sentence_46

Volcanism Andes_section_4

Main article: Andean Volcanic Belt Andes_sentence_47

The Andes range has many active volcanoes distributed in four volcanic zones separated by areas of inactivity. Andes_sentence_48

The Andean volcanism is a result of subduction of the Nazca Plate and Antarctic Plate underneath the South American Plate. Andes_sentence_49

The belt is subdivided into four main volcanic zones that are separated from each other by volcanic gaps. Andes_sentence_50

The volcanoes of the belt are diverse in terms of activity style, products and morphology. Andes_sentence_51

While some differences can be explained by which volcanic zone a volcano belongs to, there are significant differences inside volcanic zones and even between neighbouring volcanoes. Andes_sentence_52

Despite being a type location for calc-alkalic and subduction volcanism, the Andean Volcanic Belt has a large range of volcano-tectonic settings, such as rift systems and extensional zones, transpressional faults, subduction of mid-ocean ridges and seamount chains apart from a large range of crustal thicknesses and magma ascent paths, and different amount of crustal assimilations. Andes_sentence_53

Ore deposits and evaporates Andes_section_5

The Andes Mountains host large ore and salt deposits and some of their eastern fold and thrust belt acts as traps for commercially exploitable amounts of hydrocarbons. Andes_sentence_54

In the forelands of the Atacama Desert some of the largest porphyry copper mineralizations occurs making Chile and Peru the first and second largest exporters of copper in the world. Andes_sentence_55

Porphyry copper in the western slopes of the Andes has been generated by hydrothermal fluids (mostly water) during the cooling of plutons or volcanic systems. Andes_sentence_56

The porphyry mineralization further benefited from the dry climate that let them largely out of the disturbing actions of meteoric water. Andes_sentence_57

The dry climate in the central western Andes has also led to the creation of extensive saltpeter deposits which were extensively mined until the invention of synthetic nitrates. Andes_sentence_58

Yet another result of the dry climate are the salars of Atacama and Uyuni, the first one being the largest source of lithium today and the second the world's largest reserve of the element. Andes_sentence_59

Early Mesozoic and Neogene plutonism in Bolivia's Cordillera Central created the Bolivian tin belt as well as the famous, now depleted, deposits of Cerro Rico de Potosí. Andes_sentence_60

Climate and hydrology Andes_section_6

See also: Tropical Andes, Dry Andes, and Wet Andes Andes_sentence_61

The climate in the Andes varies greatly depending on latitude, altitude, and proximity to the sea. Andes_sentence_62

Temperature, atmospheric pressure and humidity decrease in higher elevations. Andes_sentence_63

The southern section is rainy and cool, the central section is dry. Andes_sentence_64

The northern Andes are typically rainy and warm, with an average temperature of 18 °C (64 °F) in Colombia. Andes_sentence_65

The climate is known to change drastically in rather short distances. Andes_sentence_66

Rainforests exist just kilometres away from the snow-covered peak Cotopaxi. Andes_sentence_67

The mountains have a large effect on the temperatures of nearby areas. Andes_sentence_68

The snow line depends on the location. Andes_sentence_69

It is at between 4,500 and 4,800 m (14,764 and 15,748 ft) in the tropical Ecuadorian, Colombian, Venezuelan, and northern Peruvian Andes, rising to 4,800–5,200 m (15,748–17,060 ft) in the drier mountains of southern Peru south to northern Chile south to about 30°S before descending to 4,500 m (14,760 ft) on Aconcagua at 32°S, 2,000 m (6,600 ft) at 40°S, 500 m (1,640 ft) at 50°S, and only 300 m (980 ft) in Tierra del Fuego at 55°S; from 50°S, several of the larger glaciers descend to sea level. Andes_sentence_70

The Andes of Chile and Argentina can be divided in two climatic and glaciological zones: the Dry Andes and the Wet Andes. Andes_sentence_71

Since the Dry Andes extend from the latitudes of Atacama Desert to the area of Maule River, precipitation is more sporadic and there are strong temperature oscillations. Andes_sentence_72

The line of equilibrium may shift drastically over short periods of time, leaving a whole glacier in the ablation area or in the accumulation area. Andes_sentence_73

In the high Andes of central Chile and Mendoza Province, rock glaciers are larger and more common than glaciers; this is due to the high exposure to solar radiation. Andes_sentence_74

Though precipitation increases with the height, there are semiarid conditions in the nearly 7,000-metre (23,000 ft) highest mountains of the Andes. Andes_sentence_75

This dry steppe climate is considered to be typical of the subtropical position at 32–34° S. The valley bottoms have no woods, just dwarf scrub. Andes_sentence_76

The largest glaciers, as e.g. the Plomo glacier and the Horcones glaciers, do not even reach 10 km (6.2 mi) in length and have an only insignificant ice thickness. Andes_sentence_77

At glacial times, however, c. 20,000 years ago, the glaciers were over ten times longer. Andes_sentence_78

On the east side of this section of the Mendozina Andes, they flowed down to 2,060 m (6,760 ft) and on the west side to about 1,220 m (4,000 ft) above sea level. Andes_sentence_79

The massifs of Cerro Aconcagua (6,961 m (22,838 ft)), Cerro Tupungato (6,550 m (21,490 ft)) and Nevado Juncal (6,110 m (20,050 ft)) are tens of kilometres away from each other and were connected by a joint ice stream network. Andes_sentence_80

The Andes' dendritic glacier arms, i.e. components of valley glaciers, were up to 112.5 km (69.9 mi) long, over 1,250 m (4,100 ft) thick and overspanned a vertical distance of 5,150 m (16,900 ft). Andes_sentence_81

The climatic glacier snowline (ELA) was lowered from 4,600 m (15,100 ft) to 3,200 m (10,500 ft) at glacial times. Andes_sentence_82

Flora Andes_section_7

The Andean region cuts across several natural and floristic regions due to its extension from Caribbean Venezuela to cold, windy and wet Cape Horn passing through the hyperarid Atacama Desert. Andes_sentence_83

Rainforests and tropical dry forests used to encircle much of the northern Andes but are now greatly diminished, especially in the Chocó and inter-Andean valleys of Colombia. Andes_sentence_84

Opposite of the humid Andean slopes are the relatively dry Andean slopes in most of western Peru, Chile and Argentina. Andes_sentence_85

Along with several Interandean Valles, they are typically dominated by deciduous woodland, shrub and xeric vegetation, reaching the extreme in the slopes near the virtually lifeless Atacama Desert. Andes_sentence_86

About 30,000 species of vascular plants live in the Andes, with roughly half being endemic to the region, surpassing the diversity of any other hotspot. Andes_sentence_87

The small tree Cinchona pubescens, a source of quinine which is used to treat malaria, is found widely in the Andes as far south as Bolivia. Andes_sentence_88

Other important crops that originated from the Andes are tobacco and potatoes. Andes_sentence_89

The high-altitude Polylepis forests and woodlands are found in the Andean areas of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile. Andes_sentence_90

These trees, by locals referred to as Queñua, Yagual and other names, can be found at altitudes of 4,500 m (14,760 ft) above sea level. Andes_sentence_91

It remains unclear if the patchy distribution of these forests and woodlands is natural, or the result of clearing which began during the Incan period. Andes_sentence_92

Regardless, in modern times the clearance has accelerated, and the trees are now considered to be highly endangered, with some believing that as little as 10% of the original woodland remains. Andes_sentence_93

Fauna Andes_section_8

Main article: Fauna of the Andes Andes_sentence_94

The Andes are rich in fauna: With almost 1,000 species, of which roughly 2/3 are endemic to the region, the Andes are the most important region in the world for amphibians. Andes_sentence_95

The diversity of animals in the Andes is high, with almost 600 species of mammals (13% endemic), more than 1,700 species of birds (about 1/3 endemic), more than 600 species of reptile (about 45% endemic), and almost 400 species of fish (about 1/3 endemic). Andes_sentence_96

The vicuña and guanaco can be found living in the Altiplano, while the closely related domesticated llama and alpaca are widely kept by locals as pack animals and for their meat and wool. Andes_sentence_97

The crepuscular (active during dawn and dusk) chinchillas, two threatened members of the rodent order, inhabit the Andes' alpine regions. Andes_sentence_98

The Andean condor, the largest bird of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, occurs throughout much of the Andes but generally in very low densities. Andes_sentence_99

Other animals found in the relatively open habitats of the high Andes include the huemul, cougar, foxes in the genus Pseudalopex, and, for birds, certain species of tinamous (notably members of the genus Nothoprocta), Andean goose, giant coot, flamingos (mainly associated with hypersaline lakes), lesser rhea, Andean flicker, diademed sandpiper-plover, miners, sierra-finches and diuca-finches. Andes_sentence_100

Lake Titicaca hosts several endemics, among them the highly endangered Titicaca flightless grebe and Titicaca water frog. Andes_sentence_101

A few species of hummingbirds, notably some hillstars, can be seen at altitudes above 4,000 m (13,100 ft), but far higher diversities can be found at lower altitudes, especially in the humid Andean forests ("cloud forests") growing on slopes in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and far northwestern Argentina. Andes_sentence_102

These forest-types, which includes the Yungas and parts of the Chocó, are very rich in flora and fauna, although few large mammals exist, exceptions being the threatened mountain tapir, spectacled bear and yellow-tailed woolly monkey. Andes_sentence_103

Birds of humid Andean forests include mountain-toucans, quetzals and the Andean cock-of-the-rock, while mixed species flocks dominated by tanagers and furnariids commonly are seen – in contrast to several vocal but typically cryptic species of wrens, tapaculos and antpittas. Andes_sentence_104

A number of species such as the royal cinclodes and white-browed tit-spinetail are associated with Polylepis, and consequently also threatened. Andes_sentence_105

Human activity Andes_section_9

See also: Cultural periods of Peru, Inca Empire, Viceroyalty of Peru, and Andean states Andes_sentence_106

Peaks Andes_section_10

Main article: List of mountains in the Andes Andes_sentence_107

This list contains some of the major peaks in the Andes mountain range. Andes_sentence_108

The highest peak is Aconcagua of Argentina (see below). Andes_sentence_109

Argentina Andes_section_11

See also: List of mountains in Argentina Andes_sentence_110


  • Aconcagua, 6,961 m (22,838 ft)Andes_item_1_3
  • Cerro Bonete, 6,759 m (22,175 ft)Andes_item_1_4
  • Galán, 5,912 m (19,396 ft)Andes_item_1_5
  • Mercedario, 6,720 m (22,047 ft)Andes_item_1_6
  • Pissis, 6,795 m (22,293 ft)Andes_item_1_7

Border between Argentina and Chile Andes_section_12

See also: Argentina–Chile border Andes_sentence_111


Bolivia Andes_section_13


Border between Bolivia and Chile Andes_section_14


  • Acotango, 6,052 m (19,856 ft)Andes_item_4_38
  • Michincha, 5,305 m (17,405 ft)Andes_item_4_39
  • Iru Phutunqu, 5,163 m (16,939 ft)Andes_item_4_40
  • Licancabur, 5,920 m (19,423 ft)Andes_item_4_41
  • Olca, 5,407 m (17,740 ft)Andes_item_4_42
  • Parinacota, 6,348 m (20,827 ft)Andes_item_4_43
  • Paruma, 5,420 m (17,782 ft)Andes_item_4_44
  • Pomerape, 6,282 m (20,610 ft)Andes_item_4_45

Chile Andes_section_15

Main article: List of mountains in Chile Andes_sentence_112


Colombia Andes_section_16


Ecuador Andes_section_17


  • Antisana, 5,752 m (18,871 ft)Andes_item_7_69
  • Cayambe, 5,790 m (18,996 ft)Andes_item_7_70
  • Chiles, 4,723 m (15,495 ft)Andes_item_7_71
  • Chimborazo, 6,268 m (20,564 ft)Andes_item_7_72
  • Corazón, 4,790 m (15,715 ft)Andes_item_7_73
  • Cotopaxi, 5,897 m (19,347 ft)Andes_item_7_74
  • El Altar, 5,320 m (17,454 ft)Andes_item_7_75
  • Illiniza, 5,248 m (17,218 ft)Andes_item_7_76
  • Pichincha, 4,784 m (15,696 ft)Andes_item_7_77
  • Quilotoa, 3,914 m (12,841 ft)Andes_item_7_78
  • Reventador, 3,562 m (11,686 ft)Andes_item_7_79
  • Sangay, 5,230 m (17,159 ft)Andes_item_7_80
  • Tungurahua, 5,023 m (16,480 ft)Andes_item_7_81

Peru Andes_section_18


  • Alpamayo, 5,947 m (19,511 ft)Andes_item_8_82
  • Artesonraju, 6,025 m (19,767 ft)Andes_item_8_83
  • Carnicero, 5,960 m (19,554 ft)Andes_item_8_84
  • Chumpe, 6,106 m (20,033 ft)Andes_item_8_85
  • Coropuna, 6,377 m (20,922 ft)Andes_item_8_86
  • El Misti, 5,822 m (19,101 ft)Andes_item_8_87
  • El Toro, 5,830 m (19,127 ft)Andes_item_8_88
  • Huandoy, 6,395 m (20,981 ft)Andes_item_8_89
  • Huascarán, 6,768 m (22,205 ft)Andes_item_8_90
  • Jirishanca, 6,094 m (19,993 ft)Andes_item_8_91
  • Pumasillo, 5,991 m (19,656 ft)Andes_item_8_92
  • Rasac, 6,040 m (19,816 ft)Andes_item_8_93
  • Rondoy, 5,870 m (19,259 ft)Andes_item_8_94
  • Sarapo, 6,127 m (20,102 ft)Andes_item_8_95
  • Salcantay, 6,271 m (20,574 ft)Andes_item_8_96
  • Seria Norte, 5,860 m (19,226 ft)Andes_item_8_97
  • Siula Grande, 6,344 m (20,814 ft)Andes_item_8_98
  • Huaytapallana, 5,557 m (18,232 ft)Andes_item_8_99
  • Yerupaja, 6,635 m (21,768 ft)Andes_item_8_100
  • Yerupaja Chico, 6,089 m (19,977 ft)Andes_item_8_101

Venezuela Andes_section_19


See also Andes_section_20


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