The Andes Mountains are the longest mountain range on earth that form a continuous highland on the westernmost part of South America. The Andes have an average height of approximately 13,000 feet and they are about 4,300 miles long and between 120 miles to 430 miles wide. The Andean Mountains are divided into numerous ranges by depressions. The Andes are grouped into three groups (Wet Andes, Dry Andes, and Tropical Andes) based on climate. The Andes are the highest mountain range in the world situated outside Asia.
Where Are the Andes Mountains?
The Andes Mountains are on the western parts of South America. These mountain ranges extend through seven states including Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia. These ranges are split into three sections: the Northern Andes, Central Andes, and the Southern Andes. The Andes Mountains are on numerous high plateaus including the Altiplano plateau. The Altiplano plateau hosts various major South American cities like La Paz, Merida, Sucre, Medellin, Arequipa, Bogota, and Quito. Lima, Peru is the biggest city of all the Andean states. The Altiplano plateau is the second highest plateau in the world that is in Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. The widest part of the Andes is on the Altiplano plateau.
The Highest Summit of the Andean Mountains
The Aconcagua is the highest peak in the Andes ranges and also in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. The 22,837-foot high summit is in Mendoza Province, Argentina. Aconcagua is bounded by Valle de los Horcones inferior to the southern and western side and the Valle de las Vacas to the east and north. Aconcagua has numerous glaciers with the biggest being the 6 mile-long Ventisquero Horcone Inferior that descends to 11,800 feet from the southern face of the peak. Other significant peaks in the Andes include Pissis (22,293 feet), Mercedario (22,047 feet), Galan (19,396 feet), and Cerro Bonete (22,175 feet) among others.
The Highest Volcanic Mountain of the Andes
The highest active volcano in the Andean Mountains is the Ojos del Salado. Ojos del Salado is the second highest peak in the Southern and Northern Hemispheres at 22,615 feet. Ojos del Salado is on the Chilean-Argentina border and about 370 miles north of Mount Aconcagua. Ojos del Salado is close to the Atacama Desert, and with snow only covering the peak during winter. The highest Crater Lake in the world is found on the Ojos del Salado, and it has a diameter of about 330 feet.
Fauna of the Andes
With about 1,000 species, the Andes Mountains are the most crucial areas on earth for amphibians. There are about 400 fish species, 600 mammal species, 600 reptile species, and 1,700 bird species, including four species of mountain toucan. Over two-thirds of all the animal species in the Andes are endemic to the regions.
Flora of the Andes
The Andean mountains cut through numerous floristic and natural areas due to its extension through seven countries. The Andes has over thirty thousand vascular plant species, and half of them are endemic to the Andes Mountains. Cinchona pubescens is widely found on the Andean Mountains. The high altitude woodlands and polylepis forests are in the Andean region of Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador.