Argentina: Natural and Geographic Landscape

Argentina: Natural and Geographic Landscape

Sat, 08/06/2022 - 17:05
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Argentina is the second largest country in South America after Brazil and the eighth largest country in the world. With the Andes forming its western border with Chile, the country's varied geography can be grouped into four geographic regions or sectors and seven natural regions or ecosystems.

Geography of Argentina

Argentina is bounded by Chile to the south and west, Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, and Brazil, Uruguay, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.

The Andes Mountains form the country's western border with Chile, extending approximately 5,300 km (3,300 mi), the longest international border in South America. It's Atlantic coastline stretches approximately 4,700 km (2,900 mi) in the east.

Argentina is the second largest country in South America after Brazil and the eighth largest country in the world. The country's varied geography can be grouped into four geographic regions or sectors and seven natural regions or ecosystems.

Argentina possesses a wide variety of climatic regions ranging from subtropical in the north to subantarctic in the far south. Lying between those is the Pampas region, which features a mild and humid climate. However, many regions have different, often contrasting, microclimates.

Argentina is a biodiverse country, home to a rich variety of plants and animals. According to the Global Biodiversity Index, Argentina is the 21st most biodiverse country in the world; with 1,001 species of birds, 174 amphibian species, 1,026 species of fish, 390 species of mammals, 462 species of reptiles, and 10,221 species of vascular plants.

Map depicting the countries on the continent of South America

Map depicting the countries on the continent of South America

The Natural and Geographic Landscape of Argentina

Geographic Regions

West

  • the Andes Mountains in the west have the highest elevations and are mostly arid

North

  • the Puna plateau in the northwest is high and dry, with a cold climate

  • the Chaco plains in the north-central have a dry subtropical climate

  • Mesopotamia in the northeast, which includes the Missionary Jungle, has a humid subtropical climate

Central

  • Cuyo in the central-west is semi-arid with a temperate climate

  • the Pampas in the central and central-east are semi-arid in the western limits and humid in the east, with a temperate climate

South

Argentina map

Map of Argentina

Natural Regions

    Andes

    The Andes Mountains extend along the western edge of the country and form most of the boundary with Chile. It is commonly subdivided into the Fuegian Andes and the Patagonian Andes.

    The highest elevations are located in the north-central part of the range and include Mount Aconcagua which, at 6,962 m (22,840 ft) above sea level, is the highest peak in the Americas.

    The Andes are generally arid mountains, except in the eastern part of the northern sector, where mountain jungle can be found, and in Patagonia, where there is a cold rainforest.

    Protected areas within the Andes natural region include:

    Puna

    In the northern sector is the Puna plateau, which is high, dry, and cold. It is located in the rain shadow of the central Andes.

    Puna grasslands occur at 3,000 - 5,000 m (9,850 - 16,400 ft) above sea level, which is above the tree line and below the permanent snow line. This high-elevation grassland region belongs to the montane grasslands and shrublands biome, as defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

    Chaco

    The north is commonly described in terms of its two main divisions: the Chaco, comprising the dry lowlands between the Andes and the Paraná River; and Mesopotamia, an area between the Paraná and Uruguay rivers. The Chaco plains, which were initially covered by semi-arid forests, have a dry subtropical climate.

    Protected areas within the Chaco region include:

    Mesopotamia

    Mesopotamia (the land between rivers), in the northeastern corner of the country, features the dense Missionary Jungle. The climate is subtropical without a dry season and the topography consists of plateaus.

    Iguazú National Park is located in the Mesopotamia region.

    Cuyo

    Cuyo is a historical wine-producing region located in the mountainous area of central-west Argentina. This region receives the least rainfall and contains a long strip of semi-arid wooded vegetation known as the "woodlands."

    Protected areas in the Cuyo region include:

    Pampas

    The Pampas plains, highly degraded grasslands with a temperate climate, run along the east-central part of the country. These grasslands are subdivided into arid western and more humid eastern parts called, respectively, the Dry Pampa and the Humid Pampa.

    Patagonia

    In the south is the Patagonian plateau. Dry, cold, and covered by steppes, it extends south from the Pampas to Tierra del Fuego.

    Protected areas within the Patagonia region include:

    Geographical regions of Argentina

    Map of the geographical regions of Argentina

    Ecological Regions

    The following is a list of ecoregions in Argentina, as defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

    Argentina is in the Neotropical realm. Ecoregions are classified by biome type - the major global plant communities determined by rainfall and climate.

    Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests

    Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands

    Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests

    Montane grasslands and shrublands

    Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands

    • Arid Chaco

    • Córdoba montane savanna

    • Humid Chaco

    Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests

    Flooded grasslands and savannas

    • Paraná flooded savanna

    • Southern Cone Mesopotamian savanna

    Topographical map of Argentina

    Topographical map of Argentina

    Bodies of Water

    Major Rivers

    • Paraná River: the second longest river in South America, Río de la Plata Basin

    • Uruguay River: forms parts of the boundaries of Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina, Río de la Plata Basin

    • Paraguay River: South America's fifth-largest river, Río de la Plata Basin

    • Negro River: the most important river of the province of Río Negro, Atlantic Ocean (Patagonia)

    • Bermejo River: flows from Bolivia to the Paraguay River in Argentina, Río de la Plata Basin

    • Pilcomayo River: the longest western tributary of the Paraguay River, Río de la Plata Basin

    • Colorado River: flows southeastward across northern Patagonia, Atlantic Ocean (Patagonia)

    • Salado River: in northern Buenos Aires Province, Río de la Plata Basin

    • San Juan River: west-central Argentina in the province of San Juan, Atlantic Ocean (Patagonia)

    • Mendoza River: formed in the Andes and flows through Mendoza Province, Atlantic Ocean (Patagonia)

    • Chubut River: the Patagonia region of southern Argentina, Atlantic Ocean (Patagonia)

    • Salado del Norte River: flows from its source in Salta Province to the Paraná River, Río de la Plata Basin

    • Desaguadero River: one of the major rivers that supply the irrigated areas of Cuyo, Atlantic Ocean (Patagonia)

    Major Lakes

    • Buenos Aires Lake: Patagonia, on the border between Chile and Argentina

    • Argentino Lake: Santa Cruz Province, the largest freshwater lake in Argentina, Los Glaciares National Park

    • Mar Chiquita Lake: Córdoba Province, the largest natural saline lake in Argentina

    • Cami Lake (or Fagnano Lake): Tierra del Fuego Province, located on Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego and shared by Chile

    • Huechulafquen Lake: Neuquén Province, a glacial Andean lake located in Lanín National Park

    • Aluminé Lake: Neuquén Province, a large, deep lake located in the Andes, near the border with Chile

    • Laguna del Diamante: Mendoza Province, located next to the Maipo volcano on the border with Chile

    • Futalaufquen Lake: Chubut Province, a large lake in the chain of lakes of the Futaleufú River system

    • Gutiérrez Lake: Río Negro Province, located in the lake region of northern Patagonia

    • Puelo Lake: Chubut Province, a large L-shaped lake near the border with Chile, Lago Puelo National Park

    • Nahuel Huapi Lake: Río Negro and Neuquén provinces, the city of Bariloche is located on its shores, Nahuel Huapi National Park

    Political map of Argentina

    Political map of Argentina

    Geopolitical Zones

    Argentina's provinces are often divided into six zones in regard to climate and terrain.

    Argentine Northwest

    • Jujuy

    • Salta

    • Tucumán

    • Catamarca

    • La Rioja

    Gran Chaco (north-central)

    • Formosa

    • Chaco

    • Santiago del Estero

    Mesopotamia or Littoral (northeast)

    • Misiones

    • Corrientes

    • Entre Ríos

    Cuyo (west-central)

    • San Juan

    • Mendoza

    • San Luis

    Pampas (east-central)

    • Santa Fe

    • La Pampa

    • Buenos Aires

    • Córdoba

    Patagonia (south)

    • Río Negro

    • Neuquén

    • Chubut

    • Santa Cruz

    • Tierra del Fuego