Five things you might not know about the Andes

Five things you might not know about the Andes

So, as you probably know by now (I mean, we’ve mentioned it enough times. See here, and here, and here), our vodka is made from quinoa sourced from the Andes in South America. Well done on remembering this fact. What you might not know though, are some of these random facts about the Andes below. Well maybe you do already know some of them. Maybe not. Who knows! Not us anyway. But read along to see if we’ve found out anything about the Andes your very smart brain didn’t already know.

Not just the longest mountain range in South America.
What do we mean “not just”? Isn’t that the whole point of this article, to tell you some things about the Andes you didn’t even know? Well yes, but what we mean is that, not only do they make up the longest mountain range in South America (located along the entire western coast of South America, the Andes run for about 4,500 miles), but they are actually part of the larger American Cordillera, an almost-continuous chain of mountains that extend north all the way up through North America. So the longest mountain range in South America, but ALSO part of another super long mountain chain! I mean, that’s a pretty impressive group of mountain friends to be a part of.

Not just mountains.
Not just mountains. Hmm. Huh. Are we sure? Well according to google yes. And we all know that if it’s on the internet, it must be right. At the top and bottom of the continent the Andes literally fade away into the sea, the tips of the now underwater peaks creating islands above sea level. In the north, these islands are Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire, and in the south, many of the islands of Patagonia make up these mountain-peak-islands. SO, if you visit the Andes, you could get both a great hiking and island experience, all while staying within the same mountain range. Well, you’d have to travel quite some distance in between (see above where we say the Andes are the longest mountain range in South America), but you get the idea. It’s possible is all we’re saying.

The Andes are home to SO many species of wildlife and plants
OK, OK, OK. So we know that the Andes are super pretty, and huge, but if you stop and think about just how much flora and fauna call this place home, it’s astounding. There are nearly 600 different species of mammals and reptiles (that is, nearly 600 different species of each, not 600 in total. Uh huh *nods head in amazement*), 400 different species of fish, more than 1,700 different types of birds, and over 1,000 amphibians (did you even know there was 1,000 different types of amphibians? WE did not). Add to this the fact that there are more than 30,000 species of plants and it’s obvious the place is teeming with amazing nature and could maybe re-populate the world if it came to it. That is definitely not an over-dramatization, alright?

No-one can really agree on where the name ‘Andes’ comes from.
Which seems a bit silly, but it’s the truth. The most common theory is that it comes from the Quechua word anti, which means “high crest”. Some other people think it comes from the Quechuan anta which means “copper” because of the colors of the range. There same word for copper exists in the Aymara language (Quechua and Aymara are the two main surviving language families, also, just an FYI). One final theory is that the name comes from the Spanish word anden which means “terrace”. This theory is related to the cultivation terraces used by the Incas and other groups from the area.

The Andes were also home to the Inca.
OK, so this is not a “fact you might not have known” unless you’ve been living under a rock, but we thought no list about the Andes would be complete without mentioning the Inca at least once.  They first appeared in the 12th Century AD and had a huge kingdom, spanning a giant amount of land, languages, and groups. Their agricultural systems, roadways, military strength, and a common religion and language helped them maintain power for so long and over such a large space of land. They also had insanely cool architecture and art, some of which survive into modern day (hello, Machu Pichu). Better than this though, are their origin myths, which you should definitely check out. Although they were defeated by Spanish invaders in 1572 (better weapons and diseases which the Inca had no protection against), much of their systems, culture, and agricultural techniques live on to this day.

So there you go, some random, and hopefully a least one informing, facts about the Andes.

Credit photo: Christian Wilmes – Bolivia

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