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Argentina, Land and Resources

Argentina comprises a diverse territory of mountains, upland areas, and plains. The western boundaries of the country fall entirely within the Andes, the great mountain system of the South American continent. For considerable stretches the continental divide demarcates the Argentine-Chilean frontier. The Patagonian Andes, which form a natural boundary between Argentina and Chile, are one of the lesser ranges, seldom exceeding about 3,600 m (about 12,000 ft) in elevation. From the northern extremity of this range to the Bolivian frontier, the western part of Argentina is occupied by the main Andean cordillera, with a number of peaks above about 6,400 m (about 21,000 ft). Aconcagua (6,960 m/22,834 ft), the highest of these peaks, is the greatest elevation in the world outside Central Asia. Other noteworthy peaks are Ojos del Salado (6,880 m/22,572 ft) and Cerro Tupungato (6,800 m/22,310 ft), on the border between Argentina and Chile, and Mercedario (6,770 m/22,211 ft). Several parallel ranges and spurs of the Andes project deeply into northwestern Argentina. The only other highlands of consequence in Argentina is the Sierra de Cordoba, situated in the central portion of the country. Its highest peak is Champaqui (2,880 m/9,449 ft).

Eastward from the base of the Andean system, the terrain of Argentina consists almost entirely of a flat or gently undulating plain. This plain slopes gradually from an elevation of about 600 m (about 2,000 ft) to sea level. In the north the Argentine plains consist of the southern portion of the South American region known as the Gran Chaco. The Pampas, treeless plains that include the most productive agricultural sections of the country, extend about 1,600 km (about 1,000 mi) south from the Gran Chaco. In Patagonia, south of the Pampas, the terrain consists largely of arid, desolate steppes.

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