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By R. W. Mccoll

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His army of more than 5,300 men, 9,280 mules, and 1,600 horses crossed at more than 13,123 ft (4,000 m) in elevation. In 1835, Charles Darwin was one of the first European scientists to collect data about the mountain. In January 1985, a remarkable discovery was made by Argentine climbers—an Inca cemetery at 17,388 ft (5,300 m) in elevation. The site included circular stone walls, a mummy, and six statues—three human and three llama figures. Although the mountain is a large, singular massif, thus nicknamed the “Centinel del Piedra” (Stone Sentinel), various peaks around Aconcagua also surpass 16,404 ft (5,000 m).

Geographically, the islands separate the Bering Sea from the PACIFIC OCEAN. They extend in an arc about 1,600 mi (2,560 km) into the Bering Sea off the west coast of ALASKA, to which they belong politically. Their total area is 6,821 square mi (17,666 square km) and the total population is approximately 12,050. Geologically, the islands comprise limited sedimentary and metamorphic rocks but are mainly volcanic in origin and are located at the junction between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates.

Although most Afars live in the desert, some live in the Awash Valley and the forests of northern Djibouti. 4 million in all. The name Afar comes from the first two letters of Africa and Arabia. The Afars are a cohesive group and did not like having their territory broken up into the countries of Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. The Afars in Djibouti are outnumbered by the Issas and were unhappy with the Issa leadership. There was much unrest among the Afars during the 1990s, but a peace accord was finally signed in 2001.

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