Thinking Citizen Blog — The Andes (I) — Comparisons, Contexts, Countries

Thinking Citizen Blog — Wednesday is Climate Change, the Environment, and Sustainability Day

Today’s Topic — Mountains of the World (IV) The Andes (Part One) — Comparisons, Contexts, Countries

The Andes are the longest mountain range on earth by far (4300 miles long versus the Great Escarpment in Africa at 3100 miles and the Rockies at 3000 miles). That is if you don’t count underwater mountains. If you do, the big winner is the mid-oceanic ridge at a whopping 40,389 miles! The latter is easily visible from space and “stretches around the globe like the seam of a baseball.” Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

SEVEN COUNTRIES: and an average height of 13,123 feet!!! (highest outside of Asia)

1. Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, and Argentina.

2. Many ranges separated by depressions and including several high plateaus including the altiplano — the second highest in the world after the Tibetan. The plateaus are homes to major cities such as Quito (Ecuador), Bogota, Cali, Medellin (Colombia), Arequipa (Peru), and Sucre (Bolivia).

3. The highest peak is Mt. Aconcagua (22,830 feet). It is located in Argentina, 70 miles from the provincial capital of Mendoza and 9 miles from the Chilean border. Mendoza is a center of the both wine and olive oil production and is one of the eight great wine capitals of the world. Have you been?


1. The “American cordillera” is the backbone of the Western Hemisphere and is an almost continuous series of mountains from the Rockies to the Andes.

2. The Ring of Fire is a 25,000 mile horseshoe of geological instability. Its 452 volcanoes are 75% of the world total and account for about 88% of the world’s largest eruptions in the last 12,000 years.

3. The instability is the result of the shifting of tectonic plates.

NB: The Andes have the highest volcanoes in the world. The highest of these is the Ojos del Salado (22,615 feet) and is still active.


1. The “tropical Andes” (above) are a “biodiversity hot spot” with 45,000 plant species with 20,000 endemic, 3000 vertebrate species with 1500 endemics.

2. The driest part of the Atacama desert (the driest non-polar region on earth) lies between the Andes and the Chilean coastal range which form a “two-sided rain shadow”preventing “moisture advection” from either the Pacific or Atlantic sides. Mountains make rain. They also make deserts. Think the Pacific Northwest.

3. “Penitentes” (penitent monks) are supercool snow formations first described by Charles Darwin in 1839 that evoke “the tall, pointed habits and hoods worn by brothers of religious orders in the Processions of Penance during Spanish Holy Week.”

NB: Ever been to the Andes? Stories to share? Ever studied the geology?


American Cordillera

Ring of Fire

Tropical Andes

Andes: World’s Longest Mountain Range

USGS P 1386-I — Chile and Argentina — Wet Andes

Ojos del Salado


Mendoza, Argentina

Penitente (snow formation)

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Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to climate change or the environment. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to climate change that the rest of us may have missed. Your favorite chart or table perhaps…

This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.