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South America Geography

Amazon Basin:

The Amazon Basin (Amazonia) is covered by the largest tropical rain forest in the world, and running through its heart is the Amazon River and its more than 1,000 tributaries, seven of them more than 1,000 miles in length. Measurable rain falls on an average of 200 days a year here, and total rainfall often approaches 100 inches per year.

The basin drains over 2,700,000 sq. miles, and covers about one-third of South America. Rising high in the Andes, the river's network irrigates almost half of the continent, and in terms of volume of water discharged into an ocean... it's the largest in the world.

Andes Mountains:

This toothy-edged mountain system, some 4,500 miles (7,240 km) in length, extends from the southern tip of South America all the way to Panama.

It's the source of most major rivers on the continent, and its many ranges include dozens of peaks that reach over 20,000 ft.; the highest point being Aconcagua in Argentina, at 22,384 ft. (6,960m). It's also home to some of the planet's largest volcanoes, and in the far south along the coast of Chile, large glaciers and ice sheets are commonplace.

Atacama Desert:

Sparsely populated and positioned high into the Andes of Chile, this somewhat small desert (or plateau) is a cold place, and one of the few deserts on Earth that doesn't receive any rain. It's approximately 100 miles wide and 625 miles long. The landscape is totally barren and covered with small borax lakes, lava flow remnants and saline deposits.

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This page was last modified on October 2, 2015.