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South America

Range TypeContinent
Highest PointAconcagua (6962 m/22,841 ft)
Area17,803,153 sq km / 6,873,804 sq mi
Area may include lowland areas
Extent13,549 km / 8,419 mi North-South
6,129 km / 3,808 mi East-West
Center Lat/Long23° 34' S; 63° 24' W
Map LinkMicrosoft Bing Map

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South America is in the middle of the continents ranked by area--smaller than Asia, Africa, and North America, but bigger than Antarctica, Europe, and Australia/Oceania. However, for a relatively small landmass, South America presents an embarassment of geographical riches: the biggest river in the world, the largest rainforest, the driest desert, and, dominating its western edge, the longest single mountain range in the world: the Andes.

For the most part, the Andes are synonomous with mountains in South America. Stretching from northeastern Venzuela to the Strait of Magellan, the 4,000 mile arc of the Andes is up there with the Himalaya/Central Asia complex and the western North American cordilleran system as one of the dominant mountain groupings of the world.

Argentina's Aconcagua (22,835'/6960m) is famous as the highest peak in the western hemisphere, but Andean peaks rise to over 20,000'/6100m in Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador as well, and Colombia (18865'/5750m) and Venzuela (16427'/5007m) are not far behind. Make no mistake, these are big, glaciated, and serious mountains for almost their entire length.

Two broad highland areas in eastern South America are insignificant mountaineering-wise when compared to the Andes, but they do cover large areas of the continent. The Guiana Highlands of Brazil, Venzuela, and Guyana are famous as the site of Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall. They are also a mysterious, inaccesible, jungle-shrouded wilderness of cliff-sided plateaus that have inspired imaginary words from the time of Raleigh's El Dorado, through Conan Doyle's Lost World, to the present. Pico da Neblina (9888'/3014m) is the highest in the Guiana Highlands, but Roraima (9219'/2810m), looking like a ship's prow splitting the jungle, is perhaps the most famous peak.

The Brazilian Highlands, centered on the state of Minas Gerias, rise to 9144'/2787m at Bandeira, but they are more noted for their mineral wealth than for any real mountainous terrain.

Map of South America
Click on neighboring ranges to navigate to them.

Note: Range borders shown on map are an approximation and are not authoritative.

Other Ranges: To go to pages for other ranges either click on the map above, or on range names in the hierarchy snapshot below, which show the parent, siblings, and children of the South America.
The WorldLevel 0 (Parent)
         North AmericaLevel 1 (Sibling)
         South AmericaLevel 1
                 Coastal South AmericaLevel 2 (Child)
                 AndesLevel 2 (Child)
                 Guiana HighlandsLevel 2 (Child)
                 Brazilian HighlandsLevel 2 (Child)
                 Southeast South AmericaLevel 2 (Child)
         EuropeLevel 1 (Sibling)
         AsiaLevel 1 (Sibling)
         AfricaLevel 1 (Sibling)
         Australia-OceaniaLevel 1 (Sibling)
         AntarcticaLevel 1 (Sibling)



Major Peaks of the South America

Ten Highest Peaks
RankPeak NamemftRange2
1.Aconcagua696222,841Andes
2.Ojos del Salado689322,615Andes
3.Monte Pissis679322,287Andes
4.Nevado Huascarán676822,205Andes
5.Cerro Bonete675922,175Andes
6.Tres Cruces674822,139Andes
7.Cerro Llullaillaco673922,110Andes
8.Cerro Mercedario672022,047Andes
9.Cerro Cazadero665821,844Andes
10.Tres Cruces Central662921,749Andes
Sub-peaks are excluded from this list. List may not be complete, since only summits in the PBC Database are included.
Child Range High Points
RankPeak NamemftRange2
1.Aconcagua696222,841Andes
2.Pico Cristóbal Colón577618,950Coastal South America
3.Pico da Neblina29949823Guiana Highlands
4.Mount Paget29159564Southeast South America
5.Pico da Bandeira28979505Brazilian Highlands



Photos of Peaks in the South America

Aconcagua
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The river crossing at Confluencia on the route to Aconcagua. Photo by Ken Jones.
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Ojos del Salado
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Ojos del Salado, the second highest peak in the Andes, is often entirely snow-free due to its location in the arid Atacama (2005-12-31). Photo by Ken Jones.
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Nevado Huascarán
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The icy majesty of Huascaran, highest peak in Peru (2010-11-06). Photo by Jeff Malik.
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Nevado Huascarán-Pico Norte
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The icy majesty of Huascaran, highest peak in Peru (2010-11-06). Photo by Jeff Malik.
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Cerro de Incahuasi
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The huge form of Incahuasi, one of the giants of the Puna de Atacama (2006-01-01). Photo by Ken Jones.
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Nevado Coropuna
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Climbers passing round yareta plants enroute to the massive hulk of Coropuna, with the main summit on the left. Photo by Clark Edgeworth.
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Huayna Potosí
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Huayna Potosí as seen from the high plains north of La Paz (2013-07-30). Photo by Habakuk Tibatong.
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Nevado Chachani
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I have never been higher! First time above 6k! Chachani 2013 (2013-08-07). Photo by Piotr Kaczynski.
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Volcán Cotopaxi
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The giant crater of Volcan Cotopaxi (2009-11-17). Photo by Ken Jones.
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Volcán Cayambe
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Volcan Cayambe from the refugio (2009-11-12). Photo by Ken Jones.
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