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South America


East of Suriname is the country of Guyana, with a land area of 83,000 sq. mi. (215,00 sq. km). In the western and southern parts of Guyana are the Guiana Highlands. As with Suriname and French Guyana, these are cut up deeply by steep and sudden river valleys, and covered with dense rain forest. The western part of the Guiana Highlands are called the Pakaraima Mountains, and are much higher than the other plateaus in Guyana, reaching an altitude of as much as 9,220 ft (2,810 m). The highlands become a vast area of rolling hills in the central part of Guyana due to the effects of erosion; this sort of terrain takes up more than two thirds of the country. In the north along the coast is a swampy region as in Suriname and French Guiana, with many lagoons and mangrove swamps.



Brawer, Moshe. Atlas of South America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.

Carlson, Fred. Geography of Latin America. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1952.

Darwin, Charles. Geological Observations on South America. Bloomington, IN: Indy Press, 2002.

Hancock, P.L., and B.J. Skinner, eds. The Oxford Companion to the Earth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Zeil, Werner. The Andes: A Geological Review. Berlin: Gebruder Borntraeger, 1979.


Berbery, Ernesto Hugo. "The Hydrologic Cycle of the La Plata Basin in South America." Journal of Hydrometeorology 3, no. 6 (2002): 630-645.

Sarah A. de Forest


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Continental drift

—The movement of continents which is due to the motion of the earth's crust.

Continental shelf

—A relatively shallow, gently sloping, submarine area at the edges of continents and large islands, extending from the shoreline to the continental slope.


—In plants, refers to leaves or other tissues which are shed at the end of the growing season.


—Areas along the coast where the sea runs in a long channel between steep cliffs.


—Underground springs which periodically explode upwards, forming tall fountains of hot water.


—The earth's crust, along with the upper part of the mantle.

Oceanic crust

—The part of the earth's crust that lies beneath the oceans, which is further down than the continental crust.


—A treeless plain of high grasses found in tropical climates.

Scrub land

—Region covered with low, stunted trees.


—In plate tectonics, the movement of one plate down into the mantle where the rock melts and becomes magma source material for new rock.


—Having to do with forces that fold and fracture the rocks of planets.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Adam Smith Biography to Spectroscopic binarySouth America - The Highlands And Plateaus, The Andes, The Amazon Basin, The Climate, Venezuela, Ecuador - The continent, The countries, Uruguay