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High altitude home to the Inca Empire, the Andes mountain range runs from tip to tail of South America along the western coast, passing through 7 countries. It is the world's longest mountain range. Tourists in South America can hike, climb, ski or horseback ride on her sides, and visit one of South America's most storied sights: Machu Picchu in Peru, which lays hidden on a peak on the edge of the Andes where they descend to the Amazon.
The Andes Mountain range runs along the western coast of South America. It is over 7,000 kilometres long, 500 kilometres wide in some parts (widest between 18° to 20°S latitude), and has an average height of about 4,000 metres above sea level. The highest peak is Aconcagua in Argentina, rising to 6,962 metres (22,841 feet) above sea level. The summit of Mount Chimborazo in the Ecuadorean Andes is the point on the earth's surface most distant from its center, because of the equatorial bulge.
The Andes range has many active volcanoes, including Cotopaxi in Ecuador, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world.
The Andes range is approximately 200-300 kilometres wide throughout its length, except in the Bolivian flexure where it is 640 kilometres wide. The islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, which lie in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Venezuela, represent the submerged peaks of the extreme northern edge of the Andes range.
The Andes' climate is mostly cold up the highest mountains but is surprisingly mild in some equatorial regions, where temperatures during the day can easily rise to more than 20 °C, while nights drop significantly below zero. The snow line is lowest in the south of Chile and Argentina (only 300 metres on Tierra del Fuego), while it rises to around 5000 metres in the dry areas of southern Peru and western Bolivia.
The Andes can be divided into three sections: the Southern Andes in Argentina and Chile; the Central Andes, including the Chilean and Peruvian cordilleras; and the northern section in Venezuela, Colombia, and northern Ecuador consisting of two parallel ranges, the Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Oriental.
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