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View of the northern Pampas grain belt.
[[Image:Laguna de Gomez.jpg|thumb|240px|Lake Gómez, near Junínmarker, in the heart of the Pampas grain belt. The Pampa extends from the foothills of the Andes Mountains on the west to the Atlantic Oceanmarker on the east.

The region is peppered with finger lakes, holdovers from the last Ice Ages.]]
Pampas landscape, at eye level.


The Pampas (from Quechua, meaning "plain") are the fertile South American lowlands that include the Argentinemarker provinces of Buenos Airesmarker, La Pampa, Santa Fe, and Córdoba, most of Uruguaymarker, and the southernmost end of Brazilmarker, the Rio Grande do Sul, covering more than . These vast plains are only interrupted by the low Ventana and Tandil hills near Bahía Blancamarker and Tandilmarker (Argentina), with a height of and respectively. The climate is mild, with precipitation of to , more or less evenly distributed through the year, making the soils appropriate for agriculture. This area is also one of the distinct physiography provinces of the larger Parana-Paraguay Plain division. These plains contain unique wildlife because of the different terrains around it. Some of this wildlife includes the rhea, the badger, and the praire chicken.

Frequent wildfires ensure that only small plants such as grasses flourish, and trees are rare. The dominant vegetation types are grassy prairie and grass steppe in which numerous species of the grass genus Stipa are particularly conspicuous. "Pampas Grass" (Cortaderia selloana) is an iconic species of the Pampas. Vegetation typically includes perennial grasses and herbs. Different strata of grasses occur because of gradients of water availability.

The World Wildlife Fund divides the Pampa into three distinct ecoregions. The Uruguayan savanna lies east of the Uruguay River, and includes all of Uruguay and the southern portion of Brazilmarker's state of Rio Grande do Sul. The Humid Pampas include eastern Buenos Aires Province, and southern Entre Rios Province. The Semi-arid Pampas includes western Buenos Aires Province and adjacent portions of Santa Fe, Cordoba, and La Pampa provinces. The Pampas are bounded by the drier Argentine espinal grasslands, which form a semicircle around the north, east, and south of the Humid Pampas.

Winters are cool to mild and summers are very warm and humid. Rainfall is fairly uniform throughout the year but is a little heavier during the summer. Annual rainfall is heaviest near the coast and decreases gradually further inland. Rain during the late spring and summer usually arrives in the form of brief heavy showers and thunderstorms. More general rainfall occurs the remainder of the year as cold fronts and storm systems move through. Although cold spells during the winter often send nighttime temperatures below freezing, snow is quite rare. In most winters, a few light snowfalls occur over inland areas.

Central Argentina boasts a successful agricultural business, with crops grown on the Pampas south and west of Buenos Airesmarker. Much of the area is also used for grazing cattle and more recently to grow vineyards in the Buenos Aires wine region. These farming regions (i.e., modified of disturbed Pampas) are particularly susceptible to flooding during heavy rainfall.

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