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.
The Natural Landscape of Argentina
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. Its Atlantic coastline stretches about 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 globally. The country's varied geography can be grouped into four geographic regions or sectors and seven natural regions or ecosystems.
Argentina is a biodiverse country, home to various plants and animals. According to the Global Biodiversity Index, it 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.
The country's biodiversity is due to its large size and varied geography. Argentina has everything from the Andes Mountains to the Patagonian steppe to the subtropical jungles of the Misiones Province. Each ecosystem is home to a unique set of plants and animals.
Conservation in Argentina is a critical and multifaceted effort to protect the country's rich biodiversity, natural landscapes, and cultural heritage. Argentina is known for its stunning and diverse ecosystems, which include tropical rainforests, grasslands, wetlands, deserts, and the southernmost reaches of the Andes Mountains.
Challenges to conservation in Argentina include habitat fragmentation, illegal wildlife trafficking, climate change, and conflicts over land use.
Conservation initiatives in Argentina address various environmental, ecological, and social challenges, and they are carried out through a combination of government policies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and international collaborations.
Argentina has a diverse climate due to its large size and location in the Southern Hemisphere. The country possesses various 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 areas have different, often contrasting, microclimates.
The country can be divided into four main climate zones:
Subtropical: The subtropical zone is located in the north and northeast of Argentina and is characterized by hot, humid summers and mild, dry winters. Average temperatures range from 25 - 35 °C (77 - 95 °F) in the summer and 15 - 25 °C (59 - 77 °F) in the winter.
Temperate: The temperate zone is located in the central and southern regions of Argentina and is characterized by warm, humid summers and cool, wet winters. Average temperatures range from 20 - 25 °C (68 - 77 °F) in the summer and 5 - 10 °C (41 - 50 °F) in the winter.
Arid: The arid zone is located in the west of Argentina, characterized by low rainfall and high temperatures. Average temperatures range from 25 - 35 °C (77 - 95 °F) in the summer and 10 - 20 °C (50 - 68 °F) in the winter.
Cold: The cold zone is in the far south of Argentina, characterized by cold temperatures and high winds. Average temperatures range from 5 - 10 °C (41 - 50 °F) in the summer and below freezing in the winter.
Rain Shadow Effect
The Andes Mountains play a significant role in shaping Argentina's climate. The mountains block cold air from the south from reaching the central and northern regions of the country, and they also create a rain shadow effect, which is why the arid zone is so dry.
The Pacific Ocean also influences Argentina's climate. The cold Humboldt Current flows along Argentina's coast, which helps keep temperatures cooler than they would otherwise be. The Humboldt Current also brings moisture to the country, contributing to the eastern regions' rainfall.
Argentina is one of the most volcanically active countries in the world, with over 30 active volcanoes. The country's volcanic activity is due to its location on the Nazca Plate, which is subducting beneath the South American Plate. The subduction process creates magma, which can rise to the surface and erupt.
Argentina's volcanoes are located in the Andes Mountains, which run along the country's western edge. The most active volcanoes in Argentina are located in the central and northern Andes.
Argentina's volcanoes significantly threaten the country's population and infrastructure. Volcanic eruptions can produce ashfalls, lava, pyroclastic, and lahars (mudflows). These hazards can damage property, destroy crops, and disrupt transportation and communication networks.
The Argentine government has some measures in place to mitigate the risks posed by volcanoes. The government has established a network of volcano monitoring stations and developed emergency response plans for communities that live near volcanoes. The government also works to educate the public about the risks posed by volcanoes and how to stay safe in the event of an eruption.
Argentina's volcanism is also a source of geothermal energy. The government is working to develop geothermal energy resources as a way to reduce the country's reliance on fossil fuels.
Map depicting the countries on the continent of South America
Natural Geography of Argentina
the Andes Mountains in the west have the highest elevations and are mostly arid
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
Cuyo in the central-west is semi-arid with a temperate climate
Sierras Pampeanas, or Central Sierras, is a chain of mountains that rise sharply from the surrounding Pampas region
the Pampas in the central and central-east are semi-arid in the western limits and humid in the east, with a mild climate
Patagonia in the south is dry and cold
Map depicting the geographical regions of Argentina
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.
Provinces considered part of the Andes region of Argentina include Mendoza, San Juan, La Rioja, Catamarca, and Salta.
Protected areas within the Andes natural region include:
The northern sector's Puna plateau 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 the tree line but 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).
The Puna region covers the western part of the country. It includes parts of several provinces: Jujuy, Salta, Catamarca, La Rioja, and San Juan, with Jujuy and Salta being the most significant.
Calilegua National Park is located in the Puna region.
The country's 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 region is characterized by its flat and fertile plains, dominated by dense subtropical forests and savannah grasslands.
The region's climate is subtropical, with hot summers and mild winters, and is subject to periodic droughts and floods.
The Chaco region is primarily composed of the provinces of Chaco and Formosa. However, depending on the definition, it can also include parts of other provinces, such as Santiago del Estero, Salta, and Jujuy.
Protected areas within the Chaco region include:
The Mesopotamia region includes the provinces of Misiones, Entre Rios, and Corrientes. The climate is subtropical without a dry season, and the topography consists of plateaus.
Protected areas in the Mesopotamia region include:
Cuyo is a historical wine-producing region in central-west Argentina's mountainous area. This region receives the least rainfall and contains a long strip of semi-arid wooded vegetation known as the "woodlands."
This region also features the Sierras Pampeanas (or Central Sierras), a chain of mountains that rise sharply from the northwest of the adjacent Pampas region. The hills run parallel to the Andes and cross into seven Argentine provinces.
The Cuyo region includes the provinces of San Juan, Mendoza, and San Luis.
Protected areas in the Cuyo region include:
The Pampas plains, highly degraded grasslands with a temperate climate, run along the country's east-central part.
The Pampas region includes the provinces of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Santa Fe, Entre Ríos, and La Pampa.
Lihué Calel National Park is located here.
The climate of Patagonia is generally dry and windy, with cold temperatures throughout the year. However, there are variations in the environment across the region due to its vast size and diverse geography.
Patagonia is known for its rugged and diverse landscape, which includes the Andes Mountains, glaciers, lakes, forests, grasslands, and deserts. The region is also home to a wide variety of wildlife.
The region covers approximately one-third of the country's total land area and includes the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz, and Tierra del Fuego.
Protected areas within the Patagonia region include:
Topographical map of Argentina
Argentina is a vast country with diverse geography, home to several mountain ranges spread across different regions. From the towering peaks of the Andes Mountains to the picturesque hills of the Sierra de la Ventana, Argentina's mountains provide a diverse range of experiences for travelers and outdoor enthusiasts.
See more: Mountain Ranges of Argentina
Islands and Archipelagos
Argentina is a vast and diverse country with a long coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. While it's not typically associated with islands in the same way as some other countries, several notable islands and archipelagos are worth mentioning.
Argentina's geography offers diverse island landscapes, each with unique characteristics and cultural significance.
See more: Islands and Archipelagos of Argentina
Bodies of Water
Argentina boasts diverse water bodies across its vast landscape. The country borders the Atlantic Ocean to the east, providing extensive coastlines and beautiful beaches.
The Paraná River and its tributaries, such as the Paraguay and Uruguay rivers, traverse the country, offering opportunities for river cruises and water-based activities. In the west, the Andes Mountains give rise to pristine lakes, including Nahuel Huapi and Lake Argentino, renowned for their stunning beauty and recreational possibilities. Additionally, Argentina is home to the extraordinary Iguazú Falls, a spectacular network of waterfalls on the border with Brazil.
See more: Water Bodies of Argentina
Argentina is a federation of 23 provinces and one autonomous city, Buenos Aires.
See more: Cultural Landscape of Argentina
The following is a list of terrestrial 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
Córdoba montane savanna
Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
Flooded grasslands and savannas
Paraná flooded savanna
Southern Cone Mesopotamian savanna
Argentina physiographic map