The Continental Divide extends from the most northern reaches of North America, following a ridge of north-south–trending mountain summits, to the most southern reaches of South America. It separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific from those river systems that drain into the Atlantic.
The Continental Divide of the Americas (or simply, Continental Divide) is the principal, and largely mountainous, hydrological divide of the Americas. In general usage, the name "continental divide" is applied to the main water parting in any continent.
The Continental Divide of the Americas extends from the Bering Strait in the most northern reaches of North America, following a fairly continuous ridge of north-south–trending mountain summits, to the Strait of Magellan in the most southern reaches of South America.
It separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain into the Atlantic Ocean (including those that drain into the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea) and, along the northernmost reaches of the Divide, those river systems that drain into the Arctic Ocean.
In Mexico, it passes through Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Querétaro, México, the Federal District, Morelos, Puebla, Oaxaca, and Chiapas.
In Central America, it continues through southern Guatemala, southwestern Honduras, western Nicaragua, western/southwestern Costa Rica, and southern Panama. The divide reaches its lowest natural point in Central America at the Isthmus of Rivas at 47 m (154 feet) in Nicaragua. In Panama, the Panama Canal cuts through it at 85 ft (26 m).
The Divide continues into South America, where it follows the peaks of the Andes Mountains, traversing western Colombia, central Ecuador, western and southwestern Peru, and eastern Chile (essentially conforming to the Chile-Bolivia and Chile-Argentina boundaries), southward to the southern end of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.