[Type] Volcanic Arc
- The Andes were formed as a result of convergent tectonic plate boundary processes, caused by the subduction of the Nazca Plate (oceanic crust) beneath the South American Plate.
- The Andes are not a single line of peaks but a succession of parallel and transverse mountain ranges, or cordilleras, and of plateaus and depressions.
- They are also part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges (cordillera) that consists of a continuous sequence of mountain ranges forming the western “backbone” of North America, Central America, South America, and Antarctica.
[Length] It is the longest continental mountain range in the world, with a length of ~7,000 Km.
[Location] Continuous highland along the western edge of South America
- It spreads from the southern tip of South America to the continent’s northernmost coast on the Caribbean. They separate a narrow western coastal area from the rest of the continent.
- It is spread across Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.
[Peaks/ Volcanoes] The Andes range has many active volcanoes distributed in four volcanic zones separated by areas of inactivity.
- The world’s highest volcanoes are in the Andes, including Ojos del Salado (~6,890 m high) on the Chile-Argentina border.
- The Andes are the highest mountain range outside Asia.
- The highest peak is Mount Aconcagua (6,962 m) (volcanic origin, but now it’s dormant).
[Climate] Precipitation varies widely. South of latitude 40°S, annual precipitation is higher, whereas to the north, it diminishes considerably and becomes seasonal.
- Temperature, atmospheric pressure, and humidity decrease in higher elevations.
- The southern section is rainy and cool, the central section is dry and the northern section is rainy and warm. The mountains have a large effect on the temperatures of nearby areas.
[Vegetation] Andean soils are relatively young and are subject to great erosion by water and winds because of the steep gradients of much of the land.