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Jackie Baldwin, age 14, of Helena, Mont., for her question:


Forming the longest chain of mountains in the world are the Andes mountains. They stretch 4,500 miles down the entire west coast of South America from Panama to Cape Horn. Only the Himalaya Mountains of northern India and Tibet are higher than the Andes range.

A number of peaks in the Andes range are over 20,000 feet high. The widest part of the Andes is about 500 miles.

Highest peak in the Andes is also the highest peak in the Americas. It stands in Argentina about 65 miles from Santiago, Chile. The peak is 22,831 feet high and is named Aconcagua.

The Andes are called Cordillera de los Andes in Spanish which means Andes Mountain Range. Highest peak in the central Andes is named Pissis and reaches up 22,241 feet abve sea level. Five other peaks in the central Andes range extending over 20,000 feet are Hauscaran, Sorata, Sajama, Illimani and Chimborazo.

The central part of the Andes forms the broadest part of the mountain system. Actually two ranges running northwest and southeast make up this section. Between these ranges lie the wide, high planes or plateaus of Peru and western Bolivia.

Mountains in the southern part of the Andes are less than 10,000 feet high. In the northern part of the range the mountains divide into three parts: one running along the coast through Colombia and into Panama, a central range that lies between the narrow valley of the Cauca River and the valley of the Magdalena River and a third running east into Venezuela.

Many of the high mountains of the Andes are volcanoes. Some of them are still active.

Earthquakes are common in the Andes. Many towns and cities through the years have been damaged or completely wiped out by earthquakes.

Glaciers cover many of the high peaks of the Andes, even those close to the equator.

Largest glaciers of the Andes are found in southern Chile. Others reach down to the Pacific Coast. Many of the glaciers in the southern Andes cut deep valleys into the rocky coastline. These valleys go far below the water level and make the coast line ragged like that of Norway.

Many deep inlets and rocky islands lie along the southern coast. Rivers flow into the Pacific through gaps cut by glaciers on the west side of the Andes.

The chief headstreams of the Amazon River rise on the eastern slopes of the Andes. Two other great rivers, the Parana and the Orinoco, also receive tributaries from the Andes.

Rainfall is light on the western slopes of the Andes, except in the section near the equator and in the southern third of Chile.

Water from the high plateau in Bolivia and northern Argentina does not flow to either the Atlantic or the Pacific. Instead, it collects in Lake Titicaca and then flows into Lake Poopo.


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