The Andean Countries


Examine the major geographical features of Columbia.
Compare the geography of Peru to that of Ecuador.
Contrast Bolivia with Chile.
Prepare a geographic portrait of Argentina.

     Chapter Overview

Chapter 9: The Andean Countries

Colombia, named after Christopher Columbus, sits astride the Andes mountain ranges at the northwestern edge of South America. Most of Colombia's people live in the valleys and plateaus of the Andes. Petroleum, coal, gold, and emeralds are only some of the natural resources found in Colombia. Colombia's government is a republic with an elected president. That government is struggling to combat the power of drug dealers who make huge fortunes from selling cocaine. Almost all of Colombia's people are mestizos: people of mixed European and Native American or African backgrounds.

Peru and Ecuador have narrow coastal plains with mild temperatures; the high Andes in the center; and hot, rainy lowlands in the interior. Peru's largest exports are copper and fish. The Inca, a powerful Native American civilization, lived in Peru during the 1400s. They were conquered by the Spanish in the early 1500s. Today's Peruvians share a heritage from both of those groups. Although the Equator runs through the country of Ecuador, its climate is not completely hot and tropical. The cold Peru Current and the Andes have a moderating effect on the climate. Ecuador's economy is focused on agriculture.

Bolivia is a landlocked country near the center of South America. Most Bolivians live on the altiplano, a high plateau surrounded by the Andes. Although rich in minerals, Bolivia is a poor country. Its people are mainly Native Americans or mestizos. Chile is a long, narrow country along the Pacific coast of South America. Eighty percent of Chile's land is made up of the Andes. Mining and agriculture are both important to Chile's economy.

     Quick Notes


Columbia has coastlines on the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean.
Coastal lowlands, central highlands, and inland rain forests make up Columbia's landscape.
Coffee is Columbia's major farm product.

Peru and Ecuador

Peru's long Pacific coastline is mostly desert and plains.
The land that is now Peru was the center of a great Native American civilization - the Inca Empire.
Most of the people of Peru live in coastal cities and in mountain valleys.

Chile and Bolivia

Bolivia is a landlocked country near the center of South America. Chile is a long, narrow country along the Pacific coast.
Most of Bolivia's people are Native Americans.
The majority of Chile's population live in the fertile central valley between the mountains.
Copper is the major mineral export of Chile; tin is Bolivia's major mineral export.


Argentina is the second-largest country in South America, after Brazil.
A vast, treeless plain called the Pampas is home to Argentina's beef cattle industry.
About one-third of Argentina's people live in Buenos Aires, the nation's capital.

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