The Altiplano (Spanish for high plain), in central South America, where the Andes are at their widest, is the most extensive area of high plateau on earth outside of Tibet. The Altiplano is an area of inland drainage lying in the central Andes, occupying parts of Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. The Altiplano is dominated by massive active volcanoes of the Central Volcanic Zone to the west. The Atacama Desert, one of the driest areas on the whole planet, lies to the southwest of the Altiplano. In contrast, to the east lies the humid Amazon Rainforest. The Bolivian Altiplano lies at approximately 14,000 feet. In the background rise the snow covered peaks of the Cordillera Real. The climate is cool and semi-arid to arid. Total annual rainfalls ranges between less than 200 mm to the south west to more than 800 mm near and over Lake Titicaca as well. Temperature range is very wide with maximum in the order of 12 to 24°C and minimum in the order of -20 to 10°C. The coldest temperatures occur in the southwestern portion of the Altiplano during the months of June and July, which correspond to the Austral winter. The seasonal cycle of rainfall is marked with the rainy season concentrating between December and March. The rest of the year tends to be very dry, cool, windy and sunny. La Paz, Bolivia is the Altiplano's principal city.

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