SOUTH AMERICA. Relief. Minerals.
- Where do lowlands cover a larger area, in North or South America?
- What large lowland
is there in South America?
- What lofty mountain
system extends along the Pacific coast?
Fig. 162. South America: Relief and minerals
Relief. In relief South America is very much like
North America. In both we find: (/) lofty chains of
young mountains in the west, along the Pacific coast;
(2) ancient mountains and plateaus in the east; (3) central lowlands in between, along the rivers.
As compared to North America, South America is less elevated. Vast regions are occupied by lowlands
In the centre of South America, close to the Equator, lie the Amazon Low1ands, the largest in the world. They are covered with sea deposits and river silt. To the north lie the Orinoco Lowlands, to the south the Lowlands, extending in a northern to southern direction
In the eastern part of the continent are the Brazilian Highlands, composed of old rocks. They rise to the south-east and come to an abrupt end at the Atlantic. Further north are the
Along the entire Pacific coast extend the Cordilleras, called the Andes in South America. The Andes consist of young mountains.
Fie 163. Peak Cotopaxi, a volcano in the Andes near the Equator. Its summit is covered with perennial snow.
They are higher than the North American Cordilleras. Perennial snow covers their tops even on the Equator. Among the peaks are many extinct and active volcanoes. Between the ranges are lofty plateaus. In the south the Andes are continued through Tierra del Fuego.
There often occur earthquakes in the neighbourhood of the Andes. A very violent earthquake occurred in 1960 on the south coast of the Pacific. It caused landslides in the mountains. Some of the extinct volcanoes began ejecting smoke, ash and lava, and several new volcanoes appeared. The neighbourhood was greatly changed. New mountains, rivers and lakes appeared, while some old ones vanished. Some of the smaller islands sank out of sight and new ones appeared.
Many villages and towns were destroyed, railways, highways, telegraph and telephone cables as well. Several thousand people were killed. The total amount of victims exceeded 300 thousand.
Great waves, called tsunamis, arose in the Pacific. Travelling at a rate of 700 kilometres an hour, they crossed the ocean and reached the shores of Asia. Ten-metre waves pounced on the east coast of Japan, flooding tens of thousands of houses, overturning hundreds of fishing-boats and drowning many people.
Minerals. South America is rich in many kinds of minerals, but poor in coal. There are large deposits of oil in the north: along the coast of the Caribbean Sea and at the foot of the Andes. In the neighbourhood of the Andes there are rich deposits of copper, tin, zinc and lead. At the very shores of the Pacific there is saltpetre, used as a fertilizer. There are bauxites near the Atlantic coast. Rich deposits of iron ore and manganese are found in the Brazilian and Guiana Highlands (manganese is used in making cast iron and steel). Almost all this wealth, however, lies in the hands of United States capitalists.
Questions and Assignments.
- Study the map and determine the highest points of the Andes
and Brazilian Highlands. Account for the frequency of earthquakes
in the Andes.
- Mark and name on the outline map the lowlands, mountains
and highlands you have studied.
- Use symbols to show on the outline map the mineral deposits
of South America.