The Andes are not a single line of formidable peaks but rather a succession of parallel and transverse mountain ranges, or cordilleras, and of intervening plateaus and depressions. Distinct eastern and western ranges—respectively named the Cordillera Oriental and the Cordillera Occidental—are characteristic of most of the system. The directional trend of both the cordilleras generally is north-south, but in several places the Cordillera Oriental bulges eastward to form either isolated peninsula-like ranges or such high intermontane plateau regions as the Altiplano (Spanish: “High Plateau”), occupying adjoining parts of Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru.Some historians believe the name Andes comes from the Quechuan word anti(“east”); others suggest it is derived from the Quechuan anta (“copper”). It perhaps is more reasonable to ascribe it to the anta of the older Aymara language, which connotes copper colour generally.
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