Geography of South America...
A bird's view over the continent


Salvador Dali Desert. Potosi, Bolivia
Dali Valley, Bolivia - © Pattron - NC-SA/2.0

When we talk about the geography of South America, we are talking about a land of extremes, including the unsurmountable beauty the continent represents as a whole. It is home to the world's largest river (the Amazon) as well as the world's driest place (the Atacama Desert). It also hosts the highest point in the Western Hemisphere: Mount Aconcagua (6,962 m.a.s.l.) in Mendoza, Argentina.


Fourth largest continent in the world, it extends from the Gulf of Darién in the northwest to the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego (Argentina) in the south. Its extreme geographic variation contributes to the continent’s large number of biomes, that embraces high mountains, alpine, steppes, deserts, high plateaus, vast grasslands and glacier zones among others.

A biome can be defined as a community of plants and animals associated with specific climatic conditions and non-living (abiotic) features, the interactions that take place between animals, plants, soil, nutrients and other living organisms within a specific area.

With an unparalleled number of plant and animal species, South America’s rich biodiversity is unique among the world’s continents. Enough to mention the Amazon rainforest and Pantanal for that matter.


South America can be divided into three physical regions: mountains and highlands, river basins, and coastal plains. World's longest mountain chain, the Andes cover 8,850 kilometers (5,500 miles), stretching from the southern tip to the northernmost coast of South America, from Chile and Argentina -sharing borders- to Venezuela.

Hight plateaus such as the Altiplano shared by Peru and Bolivia are also a feature of the Andes, sitting at an elevation of about 3,700 meters (12,300 feet) above sea level. Further down south, the Patagonia region shared by Chile and Argentina has lower-plateau elevations and the glaciers region, land of eternal ice.


Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina
Perito Moreno Glacier. Stitched Image - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0


The South American continent has three important river basins: the Amazon, Orinoco, and Paraguay/Paraná. The Amazon River basin has an area of almost 7 million square kilometers (2.7 million square miles), making it the largest watershed in the world.

The Orinoco River basin covers an area of about 948,000 square kilometers (366,000 square miles) and encompasses approximately 80 percent of Venezuela and 25 percent of Colombia, while the Paraguay/Paraná River basin covers almost 2.8 million square kilometers (1,081,000 square miles), which is much of southeastern Brazil and Bolivia, Paraguay, and northern Argentina.

Coastal plains are found on the northeastern coast of Brazil, on the Atlantic Ocean, and the western, Pacific coast of Peru and Chile. It could be defined as an area of low, flat land next to a seacoast. Part of the western coastal plain, the Atacama desert is considered to be the driest region in the world, with an average of about 1 millimeter (0.04 inches) a year.


For more info regarding South America, please visit the following pages...


Geography of South America


The following image gallery - far from being complete - is a humble attempt to share some of the continent's beauty with you, as seen through the eyes of native photographers. Further down the page you will find all related info: captions, Flickr location plus author's copyright...






Photo Credits / Copyright Info:

With many thanks to the photographers whose work is featured here...


1-Mount Fitz Roy - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
2 -Nevado Sajama and Church - © Pattron Flickr - SA,2.0.
3 - Antofalla. Catamarca, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
4 - Campos de Piedra Pómez. Catamarca, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
5 - Cordillera Occidental desde el Aire. Bolivia - © Pattron Flickr - SA,2.0.
6 - Laguna de los Flamencos - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
7 - Santa Cruz, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
8 - Catamarca, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
9 - El Sillar. Potosi, Bolivia - © Pattron Flickr - SA,2.0.
10 - Old Yungas Road, Bolivia - © Pattron Flickr - SA,2.0.
11 - Laguna Suarez. Beni, Bolivia - © Pattron Flickr - SA,2.0.
12 - El Chalten. Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
13 - Nevado Sajama, Bolivia - © Pattron Flickr - SA,2.0.
14 - Santa Cruz, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban http://www.flickr.com/photos/fjtu/11258668184/sizes/h/Flickr- NC-SA/2.0.
15 - Somuncurá. Rio Negro, Argentina. - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
16 - Cueva de las Manos. Rio Pinturas - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
17 - Bahia de Cochinos. Matanzas, Cuba - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
18 - Noel Kempff Mercado National Park - © Pattron Flickr - SA,2.0.
19 - Adolfo Alsina. Buenos Aires, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
20 - Santa Cruz, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
21 - Santa Cruz, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
22 - Puna de Catamarca, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
23 - Villa Epecuén Emergida. Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
24 - Antofagasta de la Sierra, Catamarca, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
25 - Cushamen. Chubut, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
26 - Atalaya. Salta, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
27 - Finis Terrae. Catamarca, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
28 - Antofagasta de la Sierra, Catamarca, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0
29 - Santa Cruz, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
30 - Catamarca. Puna Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
31 - Santa Cruz, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
32 - Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia - © Pattron Flickr - SA,2.0.
33 - Lago del Desierto. Santa Cruz, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
34 - Estepa. Santa Cruz, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
35 - Isla de La Juventud, Cuba - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
36 - Laguna Colorada. Bolivia - © Pattron Flickr - SA,2.0.
37 - Isla de la Juventud, Cuba - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
38 - Desierto Siloli, Bolivia - © Pattron Flickr - SA,2.0.
39 - Mount Illimani and Lake Titicaca - © Pattron Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
40 - Valle de Tucavaca, Bolivia - © Pattron Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
41 - Santa Cruz, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
42 - Puerto San Antonio Este. Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
43 - Potosi, Bolivia - © Pattron Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
44 - Laguna Amarilla. Potosi, Bolivia - © Pattron Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
45 - Catamarca, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
46 - Laguna Grande. Catamarca, Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
47 - Perito Moreno Glacier , Argentina - © Fernando J. Toucedo Urban Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.
48 - Iguazu National Park, Argentina - © Yojan Agui Flickr - NC-SA/2.0.




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