This article is about the mountain range in South America. For other uses, see Andes (disambiguation). The Andes are the world’s longest continental mountain range. It is a continuous chain of highland along the western coast of South America. The range is over 7,000 km (4,300 mi) long, 200 km (120 mi) to 700 km (430 mi) wide (widest between 18° to 20°S latitude), and of an average height of about 4,000 m (13,000 ft). Over its length the Andean range is at several locations split into several ranges, often two great ranges, named Cordillera Oriental and the Cordillera Occidental, often separated by an intermediatedepression.
The Andes mountains extend over seven countries:Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, some of which are known as Andean States. The Andes mountain range is the highest mountain range outsideAsia. The highest peak, Aconcagua, rises to 6,962 m (22,841 ft)above sea level. The summit of Mount Chimborazo in the Ecuadorean Andes is the point on the Earth’s surface most distant from its center, because of the equatorial bulge.
There are many theories about the etymology of the name Andes. Some believe Andes derives from the Quechuaword anti, which means “high crest”. Some believe Andes derives from one of the four regions of the Inca empire, orAnti(s). Some believe Andes derives from the Spanish word andén which means terrace in reference to the cultivation terraces used by the Incas and other related peoples. Some believe Andes is Spanish shorthand for “Andenes” or “Andenerías”