Human existence in the Andes is relatively recent; the oldest person remains to be discovered are only 10,000 to 12,000 years old, although habitation probably dates to much earlier times. The shortage that oxygen in ~ high altitude, especially over 12,000 feet, is therefore physiologically demanding that it imposes deep adaptative transforms even in ~ the cells of the body. The greatest altitude in the Andes in ~ which people have resided permanently is 17,100 feet (shepherds in southern Peru) and, as short-term workers, 18,500 to 19,000 feet (Carrasco Mine, in the Atacama Desert, Chile).

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From Patagonia to the southern limits of the Bolivian Altiplano, the Andes are sparsely populated; a few small groups of shepherds and also farmers live top top the reduced slopes and vegas the the cordillera. Farther to the north, indigenous Bolivia come Colombia, the largest population concentrations and most of the vital cities that these countries are discovered in the Andes. In Peru and Bolivia, a far-reaching proportion that the occupants live above 10,000 feet.

The high Andes have actually an impoverished pet life. Types there have had to adapt to the harsh and cold environment, scanty vegetation, and...

Roughly half the populace of Bolivia is composed of Aymara- and Quechua-speaking aboriginal people; many of the remainder are Spanish-speaking mestizos (or mixed). In the Lake Titicaca district live remnants that the old Uru people. Population is dispersed mainly between the high páramos, where, except for a seminomad populace of shepherds, the primary occupation is mining, and also the lower narrow valleys, whereby the human being practice agriculture. In Peru, mining is the most important human activity above 11,500 feet, yet the an excellent majority the the Andean populace is engaged in agriculture and raising sheep, cattle, goats, llamas, and alpacas; a growing proportion of world have become employed in industry and also commerce. A group of Aymara-speaking people live in the south roughly Lake Titicaca, but the biggest native populace is Quechua-speaking; Quechua speaker constitute the an excellent majority of the highland population.

The residents of the Ecuadorian Andes are mainly Quechua speakers and also mestizos; over there are small groups the Cañaris in the south and also Salasacas in the north. Farming (corn , potatoes, large beans) is the main occupation; some aboriginal peoples communicate in ceramics and weaving.

In Colombia the biggest proportion that the populace lives in between 5,000 and 10,500 feet. Only a tiny portion of the country’s populace is aboriginal American, these groups living on the Altiplano the the Cordillera Oriental and in the Cordillera central and the southern mountains. The zone the coffee plantations at around 3,000 to 6,500 feet is the many densely occupied area.

The economy

Agriculture and also livestock

Agriculture on the Andes is difficult, and also crop returns are fairly poor. The water it is provided is inadequate, and also a big part the the plateau an ar is dry or receives tiny and irregular seasonal rainfall. Temperatures of the high levels are cold, and also crops are subject come freezing. The terrain is rough, and soils are not fine developed; and, where fertile valleys perform occur, they are narrow and also small. Terraced fields have been occurred on numerous slopes to rise the quantity of land easily accessible for agriculture.

Thus, a considerable amount the Andean farming production is for regional consumption. Part products, however, have actually been get an impressive in adequate quantity to be exported, including coffee (especially from Colombia), tobacco, and also cotton; in addition, large quantities that coca (the resource of cocaine) have actually been exported indigenous Colombia and Bolivia, regardless of efforts come curb production. The possibilities of increasing the amount of arable land area by watering are extremely limited.


Visit Aymara and Quechua civilization on the Altiplano of Bolivia and also Peru to watch the ancient drop-spindle technique
Alpaca and sheep are herded ~ above the Altiplano that Bolivia and Peru, where many Aymara and also Quechua world still develop wool using the old drop-spindle technique.

The natural pastures of the plateau areas are generally used for cattle raising. Colombia exports cattle, and also Peru has actually a huge milk-canning and livestock industry. Sheep, goat, llama, and also alpaca raising are extensive in Peru and Bolivia, with both nations exporting sheep and also alpaca wool.


The mining sector of the Andes is among the most crucial of the world. Mining is particularly extensive in the south. The major minerals are copper in Chile and Peru; believe in Bolivia; silver, lead, and also zinc in Bolivia and also Peru; gold in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia; platinum in Colombia; bismuth in Bolivia; coal in Colombia; and also iron in Chile, Peru, and Colombia. Numerous deposits of petroleum are distributed along the eastern side of the Andes.


The Andes constantly have been a formidable barrier for communication, with great effect top top the financial and social development the the region. Production centres generally are much from seaports, and the mountainous character of the land makes the construction and maintenance the railways and roads challenging and expensive. A big network of fill trails room still in usage between little communities and also between farms and also markets. Horses, donkeys, and also mules space widely used; in Colombia the ox and in Peru and Bolivia the llama likewise are deliver animals.


Andes Mountains: transportation
Mother and also child boarding a train indigenous Lima to Huancayo in the Andes Mountains, Peru.
Geoff Tompkinson/ (A posting Partner)

Most the the railways were developed to transfer mining products, and otherwise are small developed. There are two worldwide railways between Chile and Argentina: the very first connects Valparaíso and Buenos Aires, and also the second, Antofagasta and also Salta. La Paz, Bolivia, is linked with Buenos Aires, Antofagasta and Arica (Chile), and (via Lake Titicaca) Puno, Arequipa, Cuzco, and Matarani (Peru). Peru has two necessary internal railways, one from Puno come Cuzco and the other from Lima to Cerro de Pasco and also Huancavelica; the latter line is the greatest in the world, crossing Ticlio happen at one altitude of part 15,800 feet. The key rail line in Ecuador runs from Quito come Guayaquil, and in Colombia the key line connects Bogotá come the Caribbean coast.

Roads are more suitable for Andean agricultural regions, because the small and widely separated valleys make railway construction and operation also expensive. Because World war II, all nations along the Andean cordilleras have broadened their roadway networks both within and through the mountains, although only a small portion of these roads are paved. The Pan-American Highway connects the major western cities; miscellaneous east-west paths are consisted of in the system.

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Air transport has become particularly important in the Andes, wherein it has decreased the obstacles of overland communication. Air routes are especially well emerged in Colombia and Peru.