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Andes Mountains
Spanish: Cordillera de los Andes
Cordillera de los Andes.jpg
An aerial view of the Andes between Santiago in Chile and Mendoza, Argentina with a large ice field on the southern slope of San José volcano (left), Marmolejo (right), and Tupungato (far right)
Highest point
Peak Aconcagua, Las Heras Department, Mendoza, Argentina
Elevation 6,961 m (22,838 ft)
Coordinates 32°39′11.51″S070°0′40.32″W / 32.6531972°S 70.0112000°W / -32.6531972; -70.0112000
Length8,900 km (5,500 mi)
Width330 km (210 mi)
Native name Anti  (Quechua)
Map of South America showing the Andes running along the entire western part (roughly parallel to the Pacific coast) of the continent
Range coordinates 32°S70°W / 32°S 70°W / -32; -70
"Cono de Arita" in the Puna de Atacama, Salta (Argentina) Cono de Arita, Salta. (Argentina).jpg
"Cono de Arita" in the Puna de Atacama, Salta (Argentina)
Aconcagua Aconcagua south wall 2020.jpg

The Andes ( /ˈændz/ AN-deez), Andes Mountains or Andean Mountain Range (Spanish : Cordillera de los Andes; Quechua : Anti) are the longest continental mountain range in the world, forming a continuous highland along the western edge of South America. The range is 8,900 km (5,530 mi) long, 200 to 700 km (124 to 435 mi) wide (widest between 18°S and 20°S latitude), and has an average height of about 4,000 m (13,123 ft). The Andes extend from north to south through seven South American countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.


Along their length, the Andes are split into several ranges, separated by intermediate depressions. 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, El Alto and La Paz. The Altiplano Plateau is the world's second-highest after the Tibetan Plateau. These ranges are in turn grouped into three major divisions based on climate: the Tropical Andes, the Dry Andes, and the Wet Andes.

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

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 the Americas and Antarctica.


The etymology of the word Andes has been debated. The majority consensus is that it derives from the Quechua word anti 'east' [1] as in Antisuyu (Quechua for 'east region'), [1] one of the four regions of the Inca Empire.

The term cordillera comes from the Spanish word cordel 'rope' [2] 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.


Aerial view of Valle Carbajal in the Tierra del Fuego. The Andes range is about 200 km (124 mi) wide throughout its length, except in the Bolivian flexure where it is about 640 kilometres (398 mi) wide. ARG-2016-Aerial-Tierra del Fuego (Ushuaia)-Valle Carbajal 01.jpg
Aerial view of Valle Carbajal in the Tierra del Fuego. The Andes range is about 200 km (124 mi) wide throughout its length, except in the Bolivian flexure where it is about 640 kilometres (398 mi) wide.

The Andes can be divided into three sections:

The Southern Andes
in Argentina and Chile, south of Llullaillaco.
The Central Andes
in Peru and Bolivia.
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. [3]

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. [4]


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. The Andes are the result of tectonic plate processes, caused by the subduction of oceanic crust beneath the South American Plate as the Nazca Plate and South American Plate converge. These processes were accelerated by the effects of climate. As the uplift of the Andes created a rain shadow on the western fringes of Chile, ocean currents and prevailing winds carried moisture away from the Chilean coast. This caused some areas of the subduction zone to be sediment starved, causing excess friction and an increased rate of compressed coastal uplift. [5] 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. 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. In the south, the Andes share a long boundary with the former Patagonia Terrane. To the west, the Andes end at the Pacific Ocean, although the Peru-Chile trench can be considered their ultimate western limit. From a geographical approach, the Andes are considered to have their western boundaries marked by the appearance of coastal lowlands and less rugged topography. The Andes Mountains also contain large quantities of iron ore located in many mountains within the range.

The Andean orogen has a series of bends or oroclines. The Bolivian Orocline is a seaward concave bending in the coast of South America and the Andes Mountains at about 18° S. [6] [7] At this point, the orientation of the Andes turns from Northwest in Peru to South in Chile and Argentina. [7] The Andean segment north and south of the Orocline have been rotated 15° to 20° counter-clockwise and clockwise respectively. [7] [8] The Bolivian Orocline area overlaps with the area of the maximum width of the Altiplano Plateau and according to Isacks (1988) the Orocline is related to crustal shortening. [6] The specific point at 18° S where the coastline bends is known as the "Arica Elbow". [9] 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. [10] Near the southern tip of the Andes lies the Patagonian Orocline. [11]


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.

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. The development continued through the Jurassic Period. 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. The rise of the Andes has not been constant, as different regions have had different degrees of tectonic stress, uplift, and erosion.

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.

The far east regions of the Andes experience a series of changes resulting from the Andean orogeny. Parts of the Sunsás Orogen in Amazonian craton disappeared from the surface of the earth being overridden by the Andes. [12] 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. [13] 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. [14]

Seismic Activity

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. Many high magnitude earthquakes have been recorded in the region, such as the 2010 Maule earthquake (M8.8) and 2015 Illapel earthquake (M8.2).

The amount, magnitude, and type of seismic activity varies greatly along the subduction zone. These differences are due to a wide range of factors, including friction between the plates, angle of subduction, buoyancy of the subducting plate, rate of subduction, and hydration value of the mantle material. The highest rate of seismic activity is observed in the central portion of the boundary, between 33°S and 35°S. In this area, the angle of subduction is very low, meaning the subducting plate is nearly horizontal. Studies of mantle hydration across the subduction zone have shown a correlation between increased material hydration and lower magnitude, more frequent seismic activity. Zones exhibiting dehydration instead are thought to have a higher potential for larger, high magnitude earthquakes in the future. [15]

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


Rift Valley near Quilotoa, Ecuador Browncanyonquilotoa.jpg
Rift Valley near Quilotoa, Ecuador
This photo from the ISS shows the high plains of the Andes Mountains in the foreground, with a line of young volcanoes facing the much lower Atacama Desert Central Andes Mountains, Salar de Arizaro, Argentina.jpg
This photo from the ISS shows the high plains of the Andes Mountains in the foreground, with a line of young volcanoes facing the much lower Atacama Desert

The Andes range has many active volcanoes distributed in four volcanic zones separated by areas of inactivity. The Andean volcanism is a result of the subduction of the Nazca Plate and Antarctic Plate underneath the South American Plate. The belt is subdivided into four main volcanic zones that are separated from each other by volcanic gaps. The volcanoes of the belt are diverse in terms of activity style, products and morphology. [16] 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. Despite being a typical 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.

Ore deposits and evaporates

The Andes Mountains host large ore and salt deposits and some of their eastern fold and thrust belts act as traps for commercially exploitable amounts of hydrocarbons. In the forelands of the Atacama Desert some of the largest porphyry copper mineralizations occur making Chile and Peru the first- and second-largest exporters of copper in the world. 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. The porphyry mineralization further benefited from the dry climate that reduced the disturbing actions of meteoric water. 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. Yet another result of the dry climate are the salars of Atacama and Uyuni, the former being the largest source of lithium today and the latter the world's largest reserve of the element. Early Mesozoic and Neogene plutonism in Bolivia's Cordillera Central created the Bolivian tin belt as well as the famous, now mostly depleted, deposits of Cerro Rico de Potosí.


The Andes Mountains, initially inhabited by hunter-gatherers, experienced the development of agriculture and the rise of politically centralised civilizations, which culminated in the establishment of the century-long Inca Empire. This all changed in the 16th century, when the Spanish conquistadors colonized the mountains in advance of the mining economy.

In the tide of anti-imperialist nationalism, the Andes became the scene of a series of independence wars in the 19th century when rebel forces swept through the region to overthrow Spanish colonial rule. Since then, many former Spanish territories have become five independent Andean states.

Climate and hydrology

Central Andes Andes1a.JPG
Central Andes
Bolivian Andes Andes bolivianos.jpg
Bolivian Andes

The climate in the Andes varies greatly depending on latitude, altitude, and proximity to the sea. Temperature, atmospheric pressure and humidity decrease in higher elevations. The southern section is rainy and cool, the central section is dry. The northern Andes are typically rainy and warm, with an average temperature of 18 °C (64 °F) in Colombia. The climate is known to change drastically in rather short distances. Rainforests exist just kilometres away from the snow-covered peak of Cotopaxi. The mountains have a large effect on the temperatures of nearby areas. The snow line depends on the location. 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. [17]

The Andes of Chile and Argentina can be divided into two climatic and glaciological zones: the Dry Andes and the Wet Andes. Since the Dry Andes extend from the latitudes of the Atacama Desert to the area of the Maule River, precipitation is more sporadic and there are strong temperature oscillations. 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.

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. [18] In these regions glaciers occur typically at higher altitudes than rock glaciers. [19] The lowest active rock glacier occur at 900 m a.s.l. in Aconcagua. [19]

Though precipitation increases with height, there are semiarid conditions in the nearly 7,000-metre (22,966 ft) highest mountains of the Andes. 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. The largest glaciers, for example, the Plomo Glacier and the Horcones Glaciers, do not even reach 10 km (6.2 mi) in length and have only insignificant ice thickness. At glacial times, however, c. 20,000 years ago, the glaciers were over ten times longer. On the east side of this section of the Mendozina Andes, they flowed down to 2,060 m (6,759 ft) and on the west side to about 1,220 m (4,003 ft) above sea level. [20] [21] 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 (20,046 ft)) are tens of kilometres away from each other and were connected by a joint ice stream network. 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 (4,101 ft) thick and overspanned a vertical distance of 5,150 m (16,896 ft). The climatic glacier snowline (ELA) was lowered from 4,600 m (15,092 ft) to 3,200 m (10,499 ft) at glacial times. [20] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29]


Laguna de Sonso tropical dry forest in Northern Andes 20100116 Sonso 002.JPG
Laguna de Sonso tropical dry forest in Northern Andes

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. Rainforests and tropical dry forests [30] used to encircle much of the northern Andes but are now greatly diminished, especially in the Chocó and inter-Andean valleys of Colombia. Opposite of the humid Andean slopes are the relatively dry Andean slopes in most of western Peru, Chile and Argentina. 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.

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. [31] 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. Other important crops that originated from the Andes are tobacco and potatoes. The high-altitude Polylepis forests and woodlands are found in the Andean areas of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile. 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. 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. 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. [32]


A male Andean cock-of-the-rock, a species found in humid Andean forests and the national bird of Peru Tunki Tanpupata.jpg
A male Andean cock-of-the-rock, a species found in humid Andean forests and the national bird of Peru
Herds of alpacas near Ausangate mountain Ausangate-hillside-MT.jpg
Herds of alpacas near Ausangate mountain

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. [31] 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). [31]

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. The crepuscular (active during dawn and dusk) chinchillas, two threatened members of the rodent order, inhabit the Andes' alpine regions. [33] [34] 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. [35] Other animals found in the relatively open habitats of the high Andes include the huemul, cougar, foxes in the genus Pseudalopex , [33] [34] 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. [35]

Lake Titicaca hosts several endemics, among them the highly endangered Titicaca flightless grebe [35] and Titicaca water frog. [36] 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. [35] 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. [33]

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. [35]

A number of species such as the royal cinclodes and white-browed tit-spinetail are associated with Polylepis, and consequently also threatened. [35]

Human activity

The Andes Mountains form a north–south axis of cultural influences. A long series of cultural development culminated in the expansion of the Inca civilization and Inca Empire in the central Andes during the 15th century. The Incas formed this civilization through imperialistic militarism as well as careful and meticulous governmental management. [37] The government sponsored the construction of aqueducts and roads in addition to preexisting installations. Some of these constructions are still in existence today.

Frederic Edwin Church, Heart of the Andes, 1859. Church Heart of the Andes.jpg
Frederic Edwin Church, Heart of the Andes, 1859.

Devastated by European diseases and by civil war, the Incas were defeated in 1532 by an alliance composed of tens of thousands of allies from nations they had subjugated (e.g. Huancas, Chachapoyas, Cañaris) and a small army of 180 Spaniards led by Francisco Pizarro. One of the few Inca sites the Spanish never found in their conquest was Machu Picchu, which lay hidden on a peak on the eastern edge of the Andes where they descend to the Amazon. The main surviving languages of the Andean peoples are those of the Quechua and Aymara language families. Woodbine Parish and Joseph Barclay Pentland surveyed a large part of the Bolivian Andes from 1826 to 1827.


In modern times, the largest cities in the Andes are Bogotá, with a metropolitan population of over ten million, and Santiago, Medellín, Cali, and Quito. Lima is a coastal city adjacent to the Andes and is the largest city of all Andean countries. It is the seat of the Andean Community of Nations.

La Paz, Bolivia's seat of government, is the highest capital city in the world, at an elevation of approximately 3,650 m (11,975 ft). Parts of the La Paz conurbation, including the city of El Alto, extend up to 4,200 m (13,780 ft).

Other cities in or near the Andes include Bariloche, Catamarca, Jujuy, Mendoza, Salta, San Juan, Tucumán, and Ushuaia in Argentina; Calama and Rancagua in Chile; Cochabamba, Oruro, Potosí, Sucre, Sacaba, Tarija, and Yacuiba in Bolivia; Arequipa, Cajamarca, Cusco, Huancayo, Huánuco, Huaraz, Juliaca, and Puno in Peru; Ambato, Cuenca, Ibarra, Latacunga, Loja, Riobamba and Tulcán in Ecuador; Armenia, Cúcuta, Bucaramanga, Duitama, Ibagué, Ipiales, Manizales, Palmira, Pasto, Pereira, Popayán, Sogamoso, Tunja, and Villavicencio in Colombia; and Barquisimeto, La Grita, Mérida, San Cristóbal, Tovar, Trujillo, and Valera in Venezuela. The cities of Caracas, Valencia, and Maracay are in the Venezuelan Coastal Range, which is a debatable extension of the Andes at the northern extremity of South America.


Cities and large towns are connected with asphalt-paved roads, while smaller towns are often connected by dirt roads, which may require a four-wheel-drive vehicle. [38]

The rough terrain has historically put the costs of building highways and railroads that cross the Andes out of reach of most neighboring countries, even with modern civil engineering practices. For example, the main crossover of the Andes between Argentina and Chile is still accomplished through the Paso Internacional Los Libertadores. Only recently the ends of some highways that came rather close to one another from the east and the west have been connected. [39] Much of the transportation of passengers is done via aircraft.

However, there is one railroad that connects Chile with Peru via the Andes, and there are others that make the same connection via southern Bolivia. See railroad maps of that region.

There are multiple highways in Bolivia that cross the Andes. Some of these were built during a period of war between Bolivia and Paraguay, in order to transport Bolivian troops and their supplies to the war front in the lowlands of southeastern Bolivia and western Paraguay.

For decades, Chile claimed ownership of land on the eastern side of the Andes. However, these claims were given up in about 1870 during the War of the Pacific between Chile and the allied Bolivia and Peru, in a diplomatic deal to keep Peru out of the war. The Chilean Army and Chilean Navy defeated the combined forces of Bolivia and Peru, and Chile took over Bolivia's only province on the Pacific Coast, some land from Peru that was returned to Peru decades later. Bolivia has been a completely landlocked country ever since. It mostly uses seaports in eastern Argentina and Uruguay for international trade because its diplomatic relations with Chile have been suspended since 1978.

Because of the tortuous terrain in places, villages and towns in the mountains—to which travel via motorized vehicles is of little use—are still located in the high Andes of Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador. Locally, the relatives of the camel, the llama, and the alpaca continue to carry out important uses as pack animals, but this use has generally diminished in modern times. Donkeys, mules, and horses are also useful.


Peruvian farmers sowing maize and beans Peruvianterracefarmers.jpg
Peruvian farmers sowing maize and beans

The ancient peoples of the Andes such as the Incas have practiced irrigation techniques for over 6,000 years. Because of the mountain slopes, terracing has been a common practice. Terracing, however, was only extensively employed after Incan imperial expansions to fuel their expanding realm. The potato holds a very important role as an internally consumed staple crop. Maize was also an important crop for these people, and was used for the production of chicha, important to Andean native people. Currently, tobacco, cotton and coffee are the main export crops. Coca, despite eradication programmes in some countries, remains an important crop for legal local use in a mildly stimulating herbal tea, and, both controversially and illegally, for the production of cocaine.


Irrigating land in the Peruvian Andes Women irrigators in the Andes.jpg
Irrigating land in the Peruvian Andes

In unirrigated land, pasture is the most common type of land use. In the rainy season (summer), part of the rangeland is used for cropping (mainly potatoes, barley, broad beans and wheat).

Irrigation is helpful in advancing the sowing data of the summer crops which guarantees an early yield in the period of food shortage. Also, by early sowing, maize can be cultivated higher up in the mountains (up to 3,800 m (12,500 ft)). In addition, it makes cropping in the dry season (winter) possible and allows the cultivation of frost-resistant vegetable crops like onion and carrot. [40]


Chilean huasos, 19th century Huasos Maulinos - Rugendas.jpg
Chilean huasos, 19th century

The Andes rose to fame for their mineral wealth during the Spanish conquest of South America. Although Andean Amerindian peoples crafted ceremonial jewelry of gold and other metals, the mineralizations of the Andes were first mined on a large scale after the Spanish arrival. Potosí in present-day Bolivia and Cerro de Pasco in Peru were among the principal mines of the Spanish Empire in the New World. Río de la Plata and Argentina [41] derive their names from the silver of Potosí.

Currently, mining in the Andes of Chile and Peru places these countries as the first and second major producers of copper in the world. Peru also contains the 4th largest goldmine in the world: the Yanacocha. The Bolivian Andes produce principally tin although historically silver mining had a huge impact on the economy of 17th-century Europe.

There is a long history of mining in the Andes, from the Spanish silver mines in Potosí in the 16th century to the vast current porphyry copper deposits of Chuquicamata and Escondida in Chile and Toquepala in Peru. Other metals including iron, gold, and tin in addition to non-metallic resources are important. The Andes have a vast supply of lithium; Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile have the three largest reserves in the world respectively. [42]

Accion andina´s reforestation plan

Depending on the country, this species goes by different names. In Peru, it's known as queñual, queuña, or queñoa. In Bolivia, as kewiña. In Ecuador, as yagual; and in Argentina, tabaquillo. Regardless of the name, Polylepis is a high Andean genus encompassing up to 45 species of trees and shrubs distributed across the South American Andes, from Venezuela to Patagonia, found even up to 5,000 meters above sea level. [43]

Despite its limited recognition and only 5% of its native population remaining, the queñual, with its twisted trunks, has become the protagonist of an inspiring story to protect water in the region. [43]

In 2000, inspired by ancestral customs in communities of his native Cusco, Peruvian Andes, biologist Constantino Aucca founded Ecoan, an NGO promoting conservation of threatened species and endangered Andean ecosystems. Since then, the organization has reforested 4.5 million plants across 16 protected areas, involving 37 Andean communities in the process. [43]

Aucca's tireless efforts caught the attention of Florent Kaiser, a Franco-German forest engineer with experience in large-scale conservation projects worldwide. [43]

During a visit to Peru in 2018, Aucca invited Kaiser to the Queuña Raymi festival, where Cusco communities engage in queñual reforestation. Witnessing 700 people of all ages participating in this ancestral tradition, Kaiser recognized it as the kind of initiative he had long sought to support. [43]

Their collaboration birthed Global Forest Generation (GFG), a US-based NGO created by Kaiser in 2018 to fund Aucca's reforestation ambitions. Together, they co-founded a new organization: Acción Andina. [43]

Currently operating in Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile, Acción Andina has planted nearly 10 million trees since 2018, restoring over 4,000 hectares of Andean forests and protecting more than 11,000 hectares of native forests. [43]


This list contains some of the major peaks in the Andes mountain range. The highest peak is Aconcagua of Argentina (see below).


The Aconcagua, Argentina, the highest mountain in the Americas Aconcagua (aerial).jpg
The Aconcagua, Argentina, the highest mountain in the Americas

The border between Argentina and Chile


Sajama, Bolivia Nevado Sajama.jpg
Sajama, Bolivia

Border between Bolivia and Chile

Parinacota, Bolivia/Chile Sopka Cerro Parinacota 6342 m.n.m. - panoramio.jpg
Parinacota, Bolivia/Chile


View of Cuernos del Paine in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile Massif Reflected.jpg
View of Cuernos del Paine in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile


Nevado del Huila, Colombia Volcan Huila 9-12-2008 (1).jpg
Nevado del Huila, Colombia


Chimborazo near Riobamba, Ecuador Volcan Chimborazo, "El Taita Chimborazo".jpg
Chimborazo near Riobamba, Ecuador


Huandoy, Peru Beauty of mount Huandoy, Cordillera Blanca, Ancash, Peru.jpg
Huandoy, Peru
Alpamayo, Peru Alpamayo 12.jpg
Alpamayo, Peru


Pico Humboldt at sunset PicoHumboldt.png
Pico Humboldt at sunset

See also


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  14. Wilson, T.J. (1991). "Transition from back-arc to foreland basin development in the southernmost Andes: Stratigraphic record from the Ultima Esperanza District, Chile". Geological Society of America Bulletin. 103 (1): 98–111. Bibcode:1991GSAB..103...98W. doi:10.1130/0016-7606(1991)103<0098:tfbatf>;2.
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  19. 1 2 Corte, Arturo E. (1976). "Rock glaciers". Biuletyn Peryglacjalny . 26: 175–197.
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  21. Brüggen, J. (1929): Zur Glazialgeologie der chilenischen Anden. Geol. Rundsch. 20, 1–35, Berlin.
  22. Kuhle, M. (1984): Spuren hocheiszeitlicher Gletscherbedeckung in der Aconcagua-Gruppe (32–33° S). In: Zentralblatt für Geologie und Paläontologie Teil 1 11/12, Verhandlungsblatt des Südamerika-Symposiums 1984 in Bamberg: 1635–1646.
  23. Kuhle, M. (1986): Die Vergletscherung Tibets und die Entstehung von Eiszeiten. In: Spektrum der Wissenschaft 9/86: 42–54.
  24. Kuhle, M. (1987): Subtropical Mountain- and Highland-Glaciation as Ice Age Triggers and the Waning of the Glacial Periods in the Pleistocene. In: GeoJournal 14 (4); Kluwer, Dordrecht/ Boston/ London: 393–421.
  25. Kuhle, M. (1988): Subtropical Mountain- and Highland-Glaciation as Ice Age Triggers and the Waning of the Glacial Periods in the Pleistocene. In: Chinese Translation Bulletin of Glaciology and Geocryology 5 (4): 1–17 (in Chinese language).
  26. Kuhle, M. (1989): Ice-Marginal Ramps: An Indicator of Semiarid Piedmont Glaciations. In: GeoJournal 18; Kluwer, Dordrecht/ Boston/ London: 223–238.
  27. Kuhle, M. (1990): Ice Marginal Ramps and Alluvial Fans in Semi-Arid Mountains: Convergence and Difference. In: Rachocki, A.H., Church, M. (eds.): Alluvial fans: A field approach. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chester-New York-Brisbane-Toronto-Singapore: 55–68.
  28. Kuhle, M. (1990): The Probability of Proof in Geomorphology—an Example of the Application of Information Theory to a New Kind of Glacigenic Morphological Type, the Ice-marginal Ramp (Bortensander). In: GeoJournal 21 (3); Kluwer, Dordrecht/ Boston/ London: 195–222.
  29. Kuhle, M. (2004): The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) glacier cover of the Aconcagua group and adjacent massifs in the Mendoza Andes (South America). In: Ehlers, J., Gibbard, P.L. (Eds.), Quaternary Glaciation— Extent and Chronology. Part III: South America, Asia, Africa, Australia, Antarctica. Development in Quaternary Science, vol. 2c. Elsevier B.V., Amsterdam, pp. 75–81.
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  32. "Pants of the Andies". Archived from the original on 15 December 2007. Retrieved 9 December 2007.
  33. 1 2 3 Eisenberg, J.F.; & Redford, K.H. (2000). Mammals of the Neotropics, Volume 3: The Central Neotropics: Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil. ISBN   978-0-226-19542-1
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  35. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Fjeldsaa, J.; & Krabbe, N. (1990). Birds of the High Andes: A Manual to the Birds of the Temperate Zone of the Andes and Patagonia, South America. ISBN   978-87-88757-16-3
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Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aconcagua</span> Highest mountain in the American continent

Aconcagua is a mountain in the Principal Cordillera of the Andes mountain range, in Mendoza Province, Argentina. It is the highest mountain in the Americas, the highest outside Asia, and the highest in both the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere with a summit elevation of 6,961 metres (22,838 ft). It lies 112 kilometres northwest of the provincial capital, the city of Mendoza, about five kilometres from San Juan Province, and 15 km (9 mi) from Argentina's border with Chile. The mountain is one of the Seven Summits of the seven continents.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nazca Plate</span> Oceanic tectonic plate in the eastern Pacific Ocean basin

The Nazca Plate or Nasca Plate, named after the Nazca region of southern Peru, is an oceanic tectonic plate in the eastern Pacific Ocean basin off the west coast of South America. The ongoing subduction, along the Peru–Chile Trench, of the Nazca Plate under the South American Plate is largely responsible for the Andean orogeny. The Nazca Plate is bounded on the west by the Pacific Plate and to the south by the Antarctic Plate through the East Pacific Rise and the Chile Rise respectively. The movement of the Nazca Plate over several hotspots has created some volcanic islands as well as east–west running seamount chains that subduct under South America. Nazca is a relatively young plate both in terms of the age of its rocks and its existence as an independent plate having been formed from the break-up of the Farallon Plate about 23 million years ago. The oldest rocks of the plate are about 50 million years old.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ojos del Salado</span> Highest volcano in the world

Nevado Ojos del Salado is a dormant complex volcano in the Andes on the Argentina–Chile border. It is the highest volcano on Earth and the highest peak in Chile. The upper reaches of Ojos del Salado consist of several overlapping lava domes, lava flows and volcanic craters, with sparse ice cover. The complex extends over an area of 70–160 square kilometres (27–62 sq mi) and its highest summit reaches an altitude of 6,893 metres (22,615 ft) above sea level. Numerous other volcanoes rise around Ojos del Salado.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cerro Azul (Chile volcano)</span> Mountain in Curicó Province, Chile

Cerro Azul, sometimes referred to as Quizapu, is an active stratovolcano in the Maule Region of central Chile, immediately south of Descabezado Grande. Part of the South Volcanic Zone of the Andes, its summit is 3,788 meters (12,428 ft) above sea level, and is capped by a summit crater that is 500 meters (1,600 ft) wide and opens to the north. Beneath the summit, the volcano features numerous scoria cones and flank vents.

A cordillera is an extensive chain and/or network system of mountain ranges, such as those in the west coast of the Americas. The term is borrowed from Spanish, where the word comes from cordilla, a diminutive of cuerda ('rope').

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Monte Pissis</span> Mountain in Argentina

Monte Pissis is an extinct volcano on the border of the La Rioja and Catamarca provinces in Argentina, 25 km (16 mi) to the east of the Chilean border and about 550 km (340 mi) north of Aconcagua. The mountain is the third-highest in the Western Hemisphere. Monte Pissis is named after Pedro José Amadeo Pissis, a French geologist who worked for the Chilean government. Due to its location in the Atacama Desert, the mountain has very dry conditions but features an extensive glacier, with crevasses, which is unique in the region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Incahuasi</span> Mountain in Argentina

Incahuasi is a volcanic mountain in the Andes of South America. It lies on the border of the Catamarca Province of Argentina and the Atacama Region of Chile. Incahuasi has a summit elevation of 6,621 metres (21,722 ft) above sea level.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nevado de Longaví</span> Volcano in Chile

Nevado de Longaví is a volcano in the Andes of central Chile. The 3,242 m (10,636 ft) high volcano lies in the Linares Province, which is part of the Maule Region. It features a summit crater and several parasitic vents. The volcano is constructed principally from lava flows. Two collapses of the edifice have carved collapse scars into the volcano, one on the eastern slope known as Lomas Limpias and another on the southwestern slope known as Los Bueye. The volcano features a glacier and the Achibueno and Blanco rivers originate on the mountain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Andean Volcanic Belt</span> Volcanic belt in South America

The Andean Volcanic Belt is a major volcanic belt along the Andean cordillera in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. It is formed as a result of subduction of the Nazca Plate and Antarctic Plate underneath the South American Plate. The belt is subdivided into four main volcanic zones which are separated by volcanic gaps. The volcanoes of the belt are diverse in terms of activity style, products, and morphology. While some differences can be explained by which volcanic zone a volcano belongs to, there are significant differences within volcanic zones and even between neighboring volcanoes. Despite being a type location for calc-alkalic and subduction volcanism, the Andean Volcanic Belt has a broad range of volcano-tectonic settings, as it has rift systems and extensional zones, transpressional faults, subduction of mid-ocean ridges and seamount chains as well as a large range of crustal thicknesses and magma ascent paths and different amounts of crustal assimilations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Geology of Chile</span>

The geology of Chile is a characterized by processes linked to subduction, such as volcanism, earthquakes, and orogeny. The building blocks of Chile's geology were assembled during the Paleozoic Era when Chile was the southwestern margin of the supercontinent Gondwana. In the Jurassic, Gondwana began to split, and the ongoing period of crustal deformation and mountain building known as the Andean orogeny began. In the Late Cenozoic, Chile definitely separated from Antarctica, and the Andes experienced a significant rise accompanied by a cooling climate and the onset of glaciations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dry Andes</span>

The Dry Andes is a climatic and glaciological subregion of the Andes. Together with the Wet Andes it is one of the two subregions of the Argentine and Chilean Andes. The Dry Andes runs from the Atacama Desert in northern Chile and Northwest Argentina south to a latitude of 35°S in Chile. In Argentina the Dry Andes reaches 40°S due to the leeward effect of the Andes. According to Luis Lliboutry the Dry Andes can be defined by the distribution of penitentes. The southernmost well-developed penitentes are found on Lanín Volcano.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Los Patos</span> Volcano on the Argentina–Chile border

Los Patos is a mountain in the Andes mountain range of South America. The peak is located on the international border of the Catamarca Province of Argentina and the Atacama Region of Chile. It has a summit elevation of 6,239 metres (20,469 ft).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Andean orogeny</span> Ongoing mountain-forming process in South America

The Andean orogeny is an ongoing process of orogeny that began in the Early Jurassic and is responsible for the rise of the Andes mountains. The orogeny is driven by a reactivation of a long-lived subduction system along the western margin of South America. On a continental scale the Cretaceous and Oligocene were periods of re-arrangements in the orogeny. The details of the orogeny vary depending on the segment and the geological period considered.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Southern Andean steppe</span>

The Southern Andean steppe is a montane grasslands and shrublands ecoregion occurring along the border of Chile and Argentina in the high elevations of the southern Andes mountain range.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Solimana (volcano)</span> Mountain in Peru

Solimana is a volcanic massif in the Andes of Peru, South America, that is approximately 6,093 metres (19,990 ft) high. It is considered an extinct stratovolcano that is part of the Central Volcanic Zone, one of the volcanic belts of the Andes. It features a caldera as well as traces of a sector collapse and subsequent erosion. The volcano is glaciated.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coropuna</span> Volcano in Peru

Coropuna is a dormant compound volcano located in the Andes mountains of southeast-central Peru. The upper reaches of Coropuna consist of several perennially snowbound conical summits, lending it the name Nevado Coropuna in Spanish. The complex extends over an area of 240 square kilometres (93 sq mi) and its highest summit reaches an altitude of 6,377 metres (20,922 ft) above sea level. This makes the Coropuna complex the third-highest of Peru. Its thick ice cap is the most extensive in Earth's tropical zone, with several outlet glaciers stretching out to lower altitudes. Below an elevation of 5,000 metres (16,000 ft), there are various vegetation belts which include trees, peat bogs, grasses and also agricultural areas and pastures.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Incapillo</span> Pleistocene caldera in Argentina

Incapillo is a Pleistocene-age caldera in the La Rioja Province of Argentina. It is the southernmost volcanic centre in the Andean Central Volcanic Zone (CVZ) that erupted during the Pleistocene. Incapillo is one of several ignimbrite or caldera systems that, along with 44 active stratovolcanoes, are part of the CVZ.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tata Sabaya</span> A 5,430-metre (17,810 ft) high volcan in Bolivia

Tata Sabaya is a 5,430-metre (17,810 ft) high volcano in Bolivia. It is part of the Central Volcanic Zone, one of several volcanic belts in the Andes which are separated by gaps without volcanic activity. This section of the Andes was volcanically active since the Jurassic, with an episode of strong ignimbritic volcanism occurring during the Miocene. Tata Sabaya lies in a thinly populated region north of the Salar de Coipasa salt pan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sillajhuay</span> Volcano in Bolivia and Chile

Sillajhuay is a volcano on the border between Bolivia and Chile. It is part of a volcanic chain that stretches across the border between Bolivia and Chile and forms a mountain massif that is in part covered by ice; whether this ice should be considered a glacier is debatable but it has been retreating in recent decades.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nevado Tres Cruces</span> Volcanic massif in the Andes

Nevado Tres Cruces is a massif of volcanic origin in the Andes Mountains on the border of Argentina and Chile. It has two main summits, Tres Cruces Sur at 6,748 metres (22,139 ft) and Tres Cruces Centro at 6,629 m (21,749 ft) and a third minor summit, Tres Cruces Norte 6,030 m (19,780 ft). Tres Cruces Sur is the sixth highest mountain in the Andes.