The Altiplano, also called Puna, is a region in west-central South America in the area where the Andes are the widest. It is the most extensive area of high plateau on Earth outside Tibet. The bulk of the Altiplano lies in Bolivia but its northern parts lie in Peru and its southern parts lie in Chile and Argentina.
The Altiplano, also called Puna, is a region in west-central South America in the area where the Andes are the widest. It is the most extensive area of high plateau on Earth outside Tibet. The dominant vegetation consists of grass and shrubs. The region’s wildlife originally included the alpaca and the llama.
The bulk of the Altiplano lies in Bolivia, but its northern parts lie in Peru and its southern parts lie in Chile and Argentina. It is a series of intermontane basins lying at about 12,000 ft (3,650 m) above sea level. Lake Titicaca occupies the northernmost basin. To the south are Lake Poopó and the Coipasa and Uyuni salt flats.
The plateau hosts several cities, including El Alto, La Paz, and Oruro in Bolivia as well as Puno in Peru. Major economic activities in the Altiplano include llama and vicuña herding — which are bred for wool and serve as pack animals — mining, as well as services in the cities.
The Atacama Desert, one of the driest areas on the planet, lies to the southwest of the Altiplano; to the east lies the humid Amazon Rainforest. The Cordillera Oriental of the Andes forms the eastern boundary of the Altiplano.
The Altiplano is dominated by massive active volcanoes of the Central Volcanic Zone to the west, such as Ampato (6,288 m or 20,630 ft), Tutupaca (5,816 m or 19,081 ft), Parinacota (6,348 m or 20826 ft), Guallatiri (6,071 m or 19,918 ft), Paruma (5,728 m or 18,792 ft), Uturunku (6,008 m or 19,711 ft) and Licancabur (5,916 m or 19,409 ft).
To the northeast are the the Cordillera Real with Illampu (6,368 m or 20,892 ft), Huayna Potosí (6,088 m or 19,973 ft), Janq'u Uma (6,427 m or 21,086 ft) and Illimani (6,438 m or 21,122 ft). On the eastern side of the Altiplano, there is a continuous passageway of gentle gradient extending southward across Bolivia.
The Altiplano was the site of several pre-Columbian cultures, including the Chiripa, Tiawanaku and the Inca Empire.