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Located along the Western part of South America, the Andes Mountains are the longest continental mountain range on Earth.

The Andes are a continual range of highlands that are about 4,300 miles (7,000 km) long, about 120 to 430 miles (200 to 700 km) wide with an average height of about 13,000ft (4,000m).

The Andes are the world’s highest mountain range outside of Asia. Only the Himalaya Mountains and their adjacent ranges such as the Hindu Kush are higher than the Andes range.

The Andes contain the highest peaks in the Western Hemisphere. Mount Aconcagua is the highest mountain outside of Asia, at 22,838 ft (6,961m), and by extension the highest point in both the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. It is in the Mendoza Province of Argentina.

The world’s highest volcanoes are also located in the Andes, including Ojos del Salado on the Chile-Argentina border, which rises to 22,615 ft (6,893m).

The mountain system is the result of global plate-tectonic forces during the Cenozoic Era (roughly the past 65 million years). About 250 million the Earth’s landmass was joined together into the supercontinent Pangaea. The subsequent breakup of Pangaea and of its southern portion, Gondwana, dispersed these plates outward, where they began to take position of the present-day continents. The collision (or convergence) of two of these plates—the continental South American Plate and the oceanic Nazca Plate—gave rise to the mountain-building activity that produced the Andes.

Because the Andes stretch from the north end of the continent to the southern tip, the range of climates of the mountains varies greatly depending on latitude, altitude, and proximity to the sea. The southern section is rainy and cold, the central section is dry, while the northern Andes are typically rainy and warm.

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