There are seventeen mountain ranges in South America, ranging in size from the small Wickham Heights, which reaches just 2000 feet, to The Andes, which tops out at 13,000-feet high.
There are 17 mountain ranges in South America: American Cordillera, Andes, Central Range of Trinidad and Tobago, Cordillera del CÃ³ndor, Cordillera Central and Cordillera Occidental (both in Bolivia and sometimes considered in the same group), Cordillera de la Costa Central, Eilerts de Haan Mountains, Hornby Mountains, Cordillera de MÃ©rida, Cordillera Occidental del Ecuador, SerranÃa del PerijÃ¡, Cordillera Real, Tumuk Humak Mountains, Venezuelan Coastal Range, Wickham Heights and Wilhelmina Mountains.
South America is home to the longest mountain range in the world: the Andes. Stretching for almost 4,500 miles (7,200 km) and through six countries–Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela–the Andes is the second-highest mountain range in the world, just behind the Himalayas.
Most of the mountain ranges in South America originate from plate-tectonic processes. The largest mountains date from the Jurassic and the Cretaceous periods and evolved in size (length and height) over thousands of years. Volcanic eruptions in the area also helped shape the mountains and are still common in certain parts of the Andes.
4. Expert Insight:
Some of South America’s mountain ranges have either been declared protected areas or are part of national parks. This is the case of the Tumuk Humak Mountains, which stretch along the border of three countries: Brazil, French Guiana and Surinam. It is home to the world’s largest tropical forest park.
Because of their size, these mountain ranges have a profound effect on the climate of the surrounding area. Most areas are rainy and warm, with low to moderate winds year round. Snow-covered peaks, however, are common, especially in the higher mountains. The variation of temperature is sometimes significant within just a few thousand feet, something that rarely happens anywhere else in the world.
Some of the mountain ranges in South America are actually not high enough to be considered true mountains. The Venezuelan Coastal Range, for example, is actually a series of small hills and valleys with average heights of 3000 feet, while the Central Range, located on the island of Trinidad, barely reaches 1000 feet.