Relief map of the Andes generated from satellite imagery and elevation data

Ff fdep1 The Andes (Spanish Cordillera de los Andes, Quechua anti or antis ) are the longest ( located above sea level) and according to the Himalayas, the second highest mountain range on earth. They form the southern part of the American Cordillera, but they are interrupted orographic in Central America.

  • 2.1 volcanism
  • 4.1 Height Javier Pulgar Vidal stages after

Location and landscape

They extend along the west coast of South America from Venezuela through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. With a north- south extent of 7500 km from the tropics ( 10 ° North ) until well into the non- tropical ( 55 ° S ), they surpass the Rocky Mountains of North America (4800 km) to about half and have almost twice the expansion the Himalaya - Karakoram - Hindu Kush system in Asia with its 4400 kilometers. In the south and in Ecuador they are wide and 200 km. Between Arica ( Chile) and Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia ), the east- west distance over 600 kilometers.

General organization

The Andes consist of two, in some sections even more, running parallel backbones. In the middle section in Peru, Bolivia, northern Chile and northern Argentina, these chains are very far apart and enclose the central highlands ( Altiplano ), where Lake Titicaca is embedded. The center of the Inca Empire, Cuzco, was north of this plateau.

  • Cordillera de Mérida as extensions of the Andes in Venezuela
  • Cordillera Costanera, coastal mountains in Ecuador Make - Chindul Cordillera
  • Chongón - Colonche Cordillera
  • Cordillera Occidental in Colombia
  • Cordillera Occidental in Ecuador
  • Volcánica Cordillera (south ) and the Cordillera Blanca, Cordillera Huayhuash and Cordillera Raura (north) in Peru
  • Cordillera Occidental in Bolivia
  • Cordillera Central in Colombia
  • Cordillera Real ( also Cordillera Central and Cordillera Oriental ) in Ecuador
  • Cordillera Central ( with Apolobamba Cordillera, Cordillera Real, Cordillera Muñecas, Cordillera Tres, Cordillera Azanaques, Cordillera de Frailes, Cordillera de chichas and Cordillera de Lípez ) in Bolivia
  • Cordillera Oriental in Colombia
  • Cordillera Oriental ( with Cordillera Huaytapallana ) in Peru
  • Cordillera Oriental ( with Cordillera Cochabamba ) in Bolivia
  • Cordillera de la Costa, the coastal mountains in Chile
  • Cordillera Darwin in Tierra del Fuego the southernmost foothills


The structure of the Peruvian Andes requires the distinction between North and South Peru Peru. Here, the mountain knot of Cerro de Pasco serves as the boundary at which the three northern and two southern chains unite. The north is divided into a western (eg, Cordillera Blanca), central and eastern Cordillera ( Cordillera Huaguruncho ). The borders serve the Interandean longitudinal valleys of the Marañón and Huallaga of, between which the Cordillera Central rises. The Western Cordillera Occidental serves as the watershed between the catchment areas of the Pacific and the Atlantic. The southern part of Peru is divided into the Western (eg Cordillera Volcánica ) and Eastern Cordillera ( Cordillera Huaytapallana ). When this limit then acts the longitudinal valley of the upper Río Mantaro and south because the upper part of the Apurimac Valley.

Formation of the Andes

The age of the Andes is estimated at around 60 million years. Within the framework of plate tectonics of the Andes provide the standard example of an ocean / continent convergence represents the Nazca plate hit 150 million years ago to the South American Plate. At the Subduktionslinie made ​​two deep troughs: the Peru Trench ( 6262 m) and the Atacama Trench ( 8066 m).

In the Andean orogeny, a number of fundamental geodynamic processes take place.

  • Convergence movements up to 10 cm per year,
  • Vertical raising to greater than 1 mm per year
  • Extreme thickness (60 - 70 km ) of the crust.

The orogeny ( mountain-building ) began in the Tertiary, but only in the Pleistocene was the uplift of the Andes to the thickness of a high mountain.

Therefore, the mountain is in the area of the Altiplano as wide, because lack of erosion has led to stabilized the Andean Orogen. Today, compression and crustal thickening plant further and further away to the east.


The Andean and Central American Cordilleras as part of the mountain system circumpacific a room strongest seismic and volcanic activity. The highest volcanoes in the world are here: The 6,795 foot Monte Pissis (Argentina ) and the 6,864 m high Ojos del Salado (Argentina - Chile). Post-volcanic phenomena, such solfataras, geysers and fumaroles are widespread.


The highest mountain in the Andes is the 6,962 m high Aconcagua, in Argentina on the border with Chile. Thus, the Andes are according to the Himalayas, the Karakoram, the Hindu Kush, Pamir, Tian Shan and Tibet, the seventh highest mountains in the world, also the highest outside of Asia. 54 peaks reach altitudes above 6100 m.

  • Ojos del Salado 6,893 m ( Argentina / Chile)
  • Llullaillaco, 6,723 m ( Argentina / Chile)
  • Pissis 6783 m ( Argentina)
  • Cerro Bonete, 6,759 m ( Argentina)
  • Tres Cruces, 6,749 m ( Argentina / Chile)
  • Walther Penck - formerly Cazadero, 6,659 m ( Argentina)
  • Incahuasi, 6,638 m ( Argentina / Chile)
  • Tupungato, 6,800 m, 6,570 m, 6,500 m ( Argentina / Chile)
  • Coropuna, 6,426 m ( Peru)
  • Ubinas, 5,675 m ( Peru)
  • Chimborazo 6,310 m ( Ecuador)
  • Osorno, 2,652 m ( Chile)
  • Sierra Nevada de Lagunas Bravas, 6,127 m ( Chile / Argentina)
  • Lanín, 3,747 m ( Argentina)
  • Uturuncu, 6.008 m ( Bolivia)
  • Licancabur, 5,916 m (Bolivia / Chile)
  • Ollagüe, 5,870 m (Bolivia / Chile)
  • Misti, 5,822 m ( Peru)
  • Dozens of smaller volcanoes in the Valley of the Volcanoes (Peru )

Height steps

The classical classification of the Andes amounting stages was done by Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland and includes five levels.

Height steps by Javier Pulgar Vidal

Javier Pulgar Vidal The Peruvian geographer shares in his major work The eight natural regions of Peru the Andes ( from the coast to the Amazon ) in height eight stages:


The inhabitants of the Andes differ culturally especially by the inhabitants of the lowlands ( llanos or coastal ) and the jungle region ( Amazon basin ). It is known to Andean music, how they present Peruvian street musicians in almost all European cities. Of course, every Andean country has its own cultural characteristics, but are connected as a cultural space.

Raw materials

The Andes are home to some of the formerly largest silver mines ( Cerro de Pasco, Potosí ) and the world's largest copper mine in Calama. Large deposits of sulfur and saltpeter can be degraded in Bolivia and northern Chile. This resulted in the end of the 19th century in the saltpeter to territorial disputes between the two countries. There are also many other minerals and precious metals, their degradation is particularly for the poorer Central Andean countries of great economic importance.


In the high plains of the Andes four camel -like animals are located. For thousands of years the population keeps llamas and alpacas as pets, because frugality, endurance and fitness for altitudes above 4000 meters, they already made ​​in the Inca period on important farm animals. They were bred from the wild parent-stocks of the guanaco and vicuna, which live exclusively in the wild. Guanacos live in small herds of up to 25 animals. The vicuña is the smallest of the Andean camels with a shoulder height of one meter. Due to its fine fur the vicuña was almost exterminated, and only strict protection could get it in the high Andes.

The Andean Condor with a wingspan of up to 3.20 meters is the largest bird of prey in the world, in the ancient cultures he was revered as a holy animal. Another record holder is more than a meter long giant armadillo, the largest member of its genus. His armor of bony plates is so hard and tough that it is hardly a predator manages to crack him. Also, living in the Andes chinchillas, Pudus, Bergtapire, degus, Andean bears, cougars and jaguars rare.