The Cordillera region is mainly characterized by a mountainous typography. A large range of mountains is split up by valleys and plateaus. Western Cordillera has the only remaining glaciers in Canada, excluding those in the Arctic.
Cordillera is a Spanish word that means mountain ranges. Because the region hosts many rivers that provide continuous water for energy and irrigation of Northern Luzon, it has also been dubbed the "Watershed Cradle of North Luzon." The region has a rugged terrain that is characterized by towering peaks.
Western Cordillera's typography is a result of the collision that happened between the North American plate and the Pacific plate. When the two tectonic plates collided, the Pacific plate, which is heavier, was forced underneath the North American plate. The Pacific plate then folded underneath the North American plate, resulting in a large mountain range. However, in some parts of Cordillera, mountains were formed by a single arching of the crust, without any breaking.
There are three mountain divisions of Western Cordillera. They include the coastal mountains, the interior plateau, and the Eastern mountains. Reference to Cordillera's mountain range as the Rocky Mountains is incorrect, as the Rocky Mountains represent only a small portion of the whole mountain chain.