The Andes Mountains run north to south. The Andes are the backbone of South America. They run close to the west coast for the entire length of South America - 4,500 miles! In some places, they measure more than 400 miles wide. In others, they measure about 100 miles across. These are not flat miles. The width is a series of very high mountain peaks. Here and there in the Andes, there are active volcanoes. The Andes are rich in minerals including gold, silver, copper, tin, iron, emeralds, and more! The Andes Mountains are very high. They are higher than the Alps or the Rockies.