South America

South America is, as its name implies, the southern part of the Americas. It is naturally, culturally and historically significant and is the home of Brazil, its largest country (both geographically and in terms of its population). South America is a separate continent and constitutes approximately 3.5% of the total surface of the Earth. Its total land area is 17 840 000 square kilometres or 6 890 000 square miles. Of the Earth’s seven continents, only Asia, Africa and North America are geographically larger than South America.

The other countries that make up South America
Image of a map of South America
Map Of South America.

• Argentina
• Bolivia
• Chile
• Colombia
• Ecuador
• French
• Guyana
• Paraguay
• Peru
• Suriname
• Trinidad and Tobago
• Uruguay
• Venezuela

What sets South America apart to a large degree is its undeniably impressive array of plant and animal species, and its rich natural resources. The Andes Mountain Range (the world’s longest mountain range), Angel Falls (the highest waterfall on Earth) and the Amazon River (the world’s longest river by volume) are just some of the wonders that this fascinating continent provides. These sustain local communities, attract tourists from all over the world and significantly add to the continent’s biodiversity. Some of the unique species that originate from South America include the llama, jaguar, anaconda and piranha.

Much of South America’s economic stability comes from the mineral resources that can be found here. The main resources include gold, silver, tin, iron ore, petroleum and copper. These are both exported and used locally, sustaining the continent’s economic stability and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for the local inhabitants and workers.

Archaeological remains testify to South America’s having been a farming community since about 6 500 BCE (Before our Common Era). These farming folk settled largely in the vicinity of the Andes, cultivating the land. As ancient man began to live and feed themselves and their families off the produce of the oceans, the extensive coastline of South America became more densely populated. It was at this time that animals like llamas and alpacas began being domesticated, so that they could transport people, crops and food through and between the Andes and other major mountain ranges and the coastal settlements. The jungles were inhabited by ancient empires, which left temples and other clues regarding their rural existence. These people included the Incas; a fascinating civilisation that continues to influence the South American culture and history significantly.

Eventually, the Europeans arrived and colonised South America, introducing slavery as a business. Europeans, Asians and Africans settled in the countries throughout the continent, creating a very mixed culture. As people of different nationalities had families together, the population became increasingly diverse. Today, South America remains a place of multifaceted customs, traditions and ideals.

South America’s most popular tourist attractions include:

• Machu Picchu
• The Amazon River and Amazon Jungle
• Rio de Janeiro
• Sao Paulo
• Cuzco
• Lake Titicaca
• Patagonia
• The Galápagos Islands
• Angel Falls
• Buenos Aires
• The gorgeous beaches (Leblon and Ipanema, for example)

For more information, please view: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/continents/south-america/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_America and http://gosouthamerica.about.com/