Latin American Geography: Map, Features & Facts

Instructor: David Juliao

David has a bachelor's degree in architecture, has done research in architecture, arts and design and has worked in the field for several years.

In this lesson, explore the beautiful and diverse geography of Latin America. Learn which are the different areas of this region, and also, discover some important features and interesting information about them.

Latin-American Geography

Latin America is a large region covering most of Central and South America and the countries where Spanish, Portuguese and French are spoken (Latin languages) are considered part of it. Latin-American geography is diverse and each country of the region has beautiful landscapes, abundant natural resources, and unique features.

Quick facts about Latin-American Geography

  • The Andean Mountains extend all along the Pacific coast of South America and are the longest mountain range in the world.
  • The Amazon jungle represents more than half of the world's rainforests.
  • The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is the most arid zone on Earth; it rains only once every 15 to 40 years.
  • The Angel Fall is the highest waterfall in the world and is located in Venezuela.
  • Latin America is among the most urbanized regions in the world, with over 80% of the population living in urban areas.

Bogota, Capital of Colombia
Bogota, Capital of Colombia

Exploring the Map of Latin America

Many believe that Latin-American geography is just beaches and rainforest, but in such a large region, it is possible to find an incredible diversity of landscapes and even experience many different climates, from tropics to glaciers and even deserts.

Latin America
Latin America

Mexico

Mexico is the northernmost country of Latin America, sometimes considered part of North America because of its important commercial ties with Canada and the United States. Mexico is a large country with over 100 million people and a complex geography. There are two mountain ranges, one along the Pacific and one along the Atlantic coast. The south of the country has a dense jungle vegetation and features a warm tropical weather. The center of the country is a mountainous area and the northern areas are mostly arid.

The Isthmus

An isthmus is a narrow area of land connecting two larger landmasses; that is the case of Central America. Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama make this mountainous jungle area, connecting Mexico with South America. It features a very dense vegetation and a varied wildlife. Panama features the narrowest point of the isthmus and is where the Panama Canal was built over 100 years ago, connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean.

The Andes

Moving south from the Isthmus, we are now in South America. The Andes Mountains span from the Caribbean coast to the north all the way to the Patagonia in the south. 7 countries are part of the Andean mountains: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. The mountains influence on the weather, giving origin to cooler climates on higher grounds and even glaciers and snow-covered peaks. The western side of the Andes is dryer and more arid with large desert areas, while the eastern side is very humid. The southern part of the mountain range has large snow-covered areas that are used for winter sports.

An Andean Glacier
An Andean Glacier

The Amazon

East of the Andes is the Amazon jungle, the largest tropical rainforest. Most of the Amazon is located in Brazil and also occupies parts of Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. It is home to a huge biodiversity with thousands of plants, birds and animal species. The Amazon is still one of the most unexplored and remote regions but illegal mining and deforestation are an increasing threat on this area, considered the lung of the planet for the amount of oxygen its vegetation provides.

The Amazon Jungle
The Amazon Jungle

Plains

Between the Andean mountains and the Amazon jungle are two large stripes of flat grasslands, one on the north and one on the south. The northern plains occupy parts of Colombia and Venezuela and are known as llanos. The southern area, in Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina is known as pampa. These plains are fertile lands used for many crops and cattle.

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