The Andes Mountains run the entire length of South America’s western coast. This translates to a length of approximately 4,500 miles north to south, and it makes the range one of the longest mountain chains on the planet. This is also one of the world’s highest mountain ranges. The tallest peak in the chain is known as Aconcagua. It can be found in Argentina’s Mendoza province and reaches an elevation of 22,841 feet.
There are many interesting Andes Mountains facts to consider. The highest active volcano on the planet calls the chain home, for example. More specifically found in Ecuador, this volcano is known as Cotapaxi, and it reaches a peak elevation of 19,347 feet. More than 30 other volcanoes are also found in the Andes Mountains. While it is inactive, Chimborazo tops them all in terms of altitude at 20,697 feet. It too can be found in Ecuador.
The Andes Mountains terrain is quite diverse. Grasslands are in good supply, as are lush forests, and the region is also home to deserts and several high altitude lakes. The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is an example of an Andean desert. The most notable of the high altitude lakes is Lake Titicaca. Found on the border of Peru and Bolivia, this lake is set at an elevation of 12,500 feet above sea level. That makes it the world’s highest commercially navigable lake.
As for other interesting Andes Mountains facts, the range passes through seven different countries–namely Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela. More than 600 mammal species are found throughout the chain, and there are also hundreds of species of birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish. In terms of a human presence, the Andes Mountains have been inhabited for centuries. The ancient Inca Empire is the most recognizable civilization from the past. Among the relics that the ancient Inca left behind is the famous lost city of Machu Picchu.
No discussion about the Andes Mountains would be complete without a reference to climate. Generally speaking, the climate of the Andes is largely affected by location and altitude, and it can vary considerably even within a single country. In Ecuador, for example, rainforest areas aren’t too far from snow covered Cotopaxi. The southern portion of the Andes is generally explained as being cool and rainy. In the central Andes, it is dry, while the northern stretch is known for being warm and rainy. The higher up you go, the colder it gets. Both frost and snow abound in the higher regions.