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South America

The Natural Environment

- Geological History -

- Natural Regions -

- Drainage and Water Resources -

- Climate -

- Vegetation -

- Animals -

- Mineral Resources -

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South America consists of four upland provinces, extending inland from the coasts, and, between them, three lowland provinces. The northern and western fringes are dominated by the Andes Mountains, the second highest mountain range in the world. Most of the eastern coast is fringed by the broader—and generally less elevated—highland areas of the Guiana and Brazilian massifs and the Patagonian Plateau. The main lowland is the vast Amazon Basin in the equatorial part of the continent; it is drained by the Amazon River, the world's second longest river. The Orinoco River drains a lowland in the north; to the south lies the Paraguay-Parana basin. The lowest point in South America (40 m/ 131 ft below sea level) is on Peninsula Valdes in eastern Argentina, and the greatest elevation (6,960 m/22,834 ft) is atop Aconcagua in western Argentina, the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere.

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