Andes mountain range is how the mountain range located on the west coast of South America. It crosses the subcontinent from north to south, passing through a total of seven countries. The phenomenon that gave rise to the Andes is called orogeny and was triggered by the collision between two tectonic plates. There are hundreds of volcanoes in the Andes, many of them active, embedded valleys and peaks that exceed 6,000 meters in altitude, such as Mount Aconcagua. The region is inhabited by millions of people and has an enormous cultural diversity, as well as being of great importance for the economy and tourism in the Andean countries.
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Topics in this article
- 1 - Overview of the Andes Mountains
2 - What are the characteristics of the Andes Mountains?
- Location of the Andes Mountains
- Fauna of the Andes Mountains
- Flora of the Andes Mountains
- Climate of the Andes Mountains
3 - What is the importance of the Andes Mountains?
- Tourism in the Andes Mountains
- 4 - Curiosities about the Andes Mountains
Overview of the Andes Mountains
The Andes is a mountain range located in South America.
It crosses seven countries and is situated on the west coast of the subcontinent, stretching from north to south of the Venezuela to Patagonia.
It was formed through the collision of tectonic plates.
It is located in one of the most tectonically unstable regions of the planet, the Circle of fire.
Its fauna is diverse, especially with regard to birds. In addition, one of the characteristic animals of the region is the llama.
The flora of the Andes is mostly grasses, shrubs and herbs, but there are areas covered by denser vegetation, such as subtropical forests.
The predominant climate is mountain cold.
The Andes Mountains are important not only for the geomorphological and climatic dynamics of the region, but also for the economy and tourism in the countries of Andean America.
What are the characteristics of the Andes Mountains?
The Cordillera de los Andes, or simply the Andes, is considered the longest mountain complex in the world. Its formation is dated between the end of the Mesozoic era and the beginning of the Cenozoic era, more precisely the Tertiary period, which occurred approximately 65.5 million years ago.
The Andes are the result of the endogenous processes of formation of the terrestrial relief, in specific the movements of the tectonic plates or tectonism. Large mountains and mountain ranges originate from the meeting (or collision) of two or more tectonic plates, which is known as orogeny. In the present case, the convergent motion happened with the subduction of the Nazca plate under the South American plate. As a result of this mechanism, the Andes are classified as an orogenetic belt, being an area of tectonic instability.
Next, we will learn about some of the main features of this important South American mountain range.
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Location of the Andes Mountains
The Andes Mountains are located in the subcontinent of South America, extending for 8 thousand kilometers from the north of the region to the extreme south, covering its entire western range, separating the narrow coastline bathed by the Opacific ocean from the rest of the continent. This area is known as Andean America.
You Andes correspondsm to the east edge dthe circle of fire or Pacific Ring of Fire, which presents great seismicity and is considered the region of greatest tectonic instability on the planet.
◦ Countries that make up the Andes Mountains
The mountains that make up the Andes Cordillera cross seven countries, which are therefore called Andean countries. From the north, the mountain range runs through the following countries:
The Andes Mountains extends to the southernmost point of South America, which corresponds to the region of Patagonia, located between the Chilean and Argentine territories.
Fauna of the Andes Mountains
THE biodiversity of the Andes varies greatly according to the region, which is due to atmospheric conditions, such as the very rarefied air, resulting from the high altitudes. In general terms, the Andean fauna is composed of 1700 species of birds, 600 species of reptiles, 400 species of fish and about 600 species of mammals and herbivores, as well as insects and other small animals.
Many of the animals that live in the Andes today belong to endemic species, that is, they originated in that region.
At llamas and alpacas are perhaps the most representative animals of the Andean fauna. They are characterized by their dense and very warm coat, which serves for protection, and they have a high economic value in the production of wool. These animals are also used for transport and food.
Other animals that make up the fauna of the Andes are the following:
→ guinea pig;
→ Andean cougar;
→ mountain tapir;
→ spectacled bear;
→ oreonax flavicauda (a primate species endemic to Peru);
→ South Andean deer;
→ Andean condor.
Flora of the Andes Mountains
As well as the fauna, the flora of the Andes Mountains varies considerably by region and altitude., depending directly on the influence of climate and the soil type gift. In the largest extension of the Andean mountains, the presence of low-sized vegetation is observed, composed essentially of shrubs, grasses and herbs. A species quite common in the Andes, especially in the region of Peru, is called the ichu.
In the more humid areas, both to the north and to the south, it is possible to find a slightly denser vegetation, with formations of subtropical or Andean forest.
Climate of the Andes Mountains
Since the Andes stretch from the tropical zone, close to the line of ANDframe, up to the temperate zone of the Southern Hemisphere, there is a variation in the climatic occurrence in the different localities. Altitude is also an important determinant of climate in the Andes Mountains, in addition to elements such as maritime conditions, sea currents, especially the Humboldt current, and the relief itself.
In areas of lower latitude, the sections permanently covered with snow and long-lasting cold are situated at just over 4500 meters of altitude, while in areas with greater latitude, permanent snow is observed at elevations above 800 meters.
In general terms, the climate in the Andes is characterized as mountain cold. Temperatures are lower in areas of higher altitude and where the air is thinner, as we have seen, and show greater variability in the tropical region, in countries such as Colombia and Peru. At rains are moderate and accumulate maximums of 950 mm in some areas.
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How important is the Andes Mountains?
The Andes Cordillera is the feature of relief most important in South America, sometimes being described as the backbone of the subcontinent. Some of the main rivers in the region are born there, with emphasis on the rio Amazon, in addition to being a determining element for the climate and microclimates in South American territories. However, its importance is not restricted to physiographic aspects.
Almost half of the population of all Andean American countries (approximately 85 million people) lives in the Cordillera region, although the population density is low in most of its extension. The exception is the large cities located at altitude, such as La Paz (Bolivia), considered the highest capital in the world, Quito (Ecuador), Bogotá (Colombia) and Cusco (Peru).
Important economies developed in the fertile valleys of the Andes, such as Colombian coffee, cotton, tobacco, as well as cattle and other animals such as sheep, llamas and alpacas, which are highly sought after for clothing production. The mining activity also stands out, with the presence of resources such as copper, silver, gold and platinum.
Tourism in the Andes Mountains
The Andes Mountains have a large set of unique natural landscapes, from the north to the south, in Patagonia or Tierra del Fuego, which gives it an enormous tourist potential. Among these landscapes we can mention Lake Titicaca and its countless islands, the Uyuni salt flat, the Chilean volcanoes and the Mount Aconcagua, in Argentina, which corresponds to the highest elevation in the world outside Asia, located at 6,961 meters altitude.
the mountain range It also houses important historical sites dating back to iempire Inca, such as the city of Machu Picchu (Peru) and the Sacred Valley of the Incas, in addition to the enormous wealth and cultural diversity of the Andean populations.
Facts about the Andes Mountains
The average altitude in the Andes is 4000 meters.
Most of the Andes mountain peaks are volcanoes.
There are approximately 150 active volcanoes in the Andes.
The highest volcano in the world is located in the Andes Mountains. This is the Ojos del Salado volcano, located on the border between Chile and Argentina, at an altitude of 6893 meters.
The peak of Mount Chimboraço, in Ecuador, is considered the furthest point from the center of the planet. Its altitude is 6,263 meters and, despite this, it is at a distance of 6,384 km from the center of the Earth, about 2 km more than the myesterday Everest.
The border region between Chile and Argentina concentrates the highest mountains in the Andes.
Tomatoes and potatoes are native to the Andes Mountains.
By Paloma Guitarrara