Located between the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific and
the South Atlantic, South America stands as the southernmost part of
the American continent.
South America has a great climatic and geographical diversity, highlighting the jungles of the Amazon, the steep peaks of the Andes mountain range, the arid Atacama desert, remote islands such as the Galápagos and Fernando de Noronha, paradisiacal beaches in the Caribbean and the Atlantic and the harsh landscapes of Patagonia.
Inhabited for centuries by various indigenous tribes, South America was subdued by the Iberian conquerors during the sixteenth century, who dominated the continent for more than 300 years. This gave rise to a racial mixture and a unique cultural identity that includes Amerindian, European and African elements. This diversity is also reflected in the existing ways of life: while in some cities there is a high development similar to European countries, there are other isolated communities that maintain their ancient customs.
Aconcagua Provincial Park
Aconcagua Provincial Park takes its name from quechua word of “Ackon-Cauak”, which roughtly is translated as ‘Stone Sentinel’. Splendid Andes Mountain Range draws all types of thrill seekers ranging in difficulty including hiking, climbing, skiing and etc.
Machu Picchu is an ancient archeological Inca site 69 mi Northwest of Cusco in Peru. Peruvian government secured 326 sq km as a "Historical Sanctuary" to preserve Machu Picchu archaeological site. In 1983 Machu Picchu was added to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in 2007 it was chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
The Inca Trail
The Inca Trail to a great Incan settlement of Machu Picchu is one of the greatest hikes you will ever undertake. It lies in a beautiful Andean mountain range and connects numerous ancient archaeological settlements along its way.
Nazca Lines are located 12 mi (20 km) North of Nazca in Peru. These lines were created between 500 BC and 500 AD these spectacular creations went largely unnoticed until 1927 than the pilot saw shapes of animals, trees and various geometric figures.
Colombia · Guyana · Suriname · Venezuela · French Guiana
Colombia and Venezuela stand out for their mix of Andean culture, Amazon rainforest and a prodigious coastline of paradisiacal beaches. Cartagena de Indias and Isla de Margarita are just some of the destinations that receive thousands of tourists each year who come to enjoy the favorable climate, temperate waters and vegetation of the area. Urban areas such as Bogotá , Medellín , Cali and Caracas stand out when mixing their Hispanic origins with modernity.
The Guyanas, meanwhile, are more exotic destinations. The recent colonial past of Guyana and Surinam contrasts with the jungle that covers their lands.
Bolivia · Ecuador · Peru · Colombia
In the heart of South America, the Andes are enchanted by ancient ancient cultures and the preserved baroque cities of colonial origin, such as Lima and Quito . The pre-Columbian traditions have managed to maintain and integrate with the current civilization, offering tourists their particular magic in destinations such as Cusco or Machu Picchu . Contrasting landscapes between jungle and desert can be found next to beautiful and deserted beaches on the Pacific coasts. The Titicaca , the highest navigable lake in the world, and the native fauna of the Galapagos Islands are some of the highlights of this area.
The largest country in Latin America and probably the most recognized worldwide, highlighting the Carnival , and the famous beaches of Rio de Janeiro , the giant " Amazon " or the rich and cosmopolitan São Paulo , the largest city in the southern hemisphere. However, Brazil is more than that, with a territory that stretches from the Atlantic to almost touching the Andes, incorporating places such as the Pantanal , one of the largest wetlands in the world, the paradisiacal Parque Nacional dos Lençois or the islands of Fernando de Noronha .
Its rich history that mixes indigenous cultures, Portuguese colonialism and the traditions of former African slaves, has allowed the emergence of attractive cities such as Salvador de Bahia or the futuristic capital, Brasilia.
Argentina Argentina · Chile · Paraguay · Uruguay
The southernmost part of the continent is full of diversity on both sides of the Andes mountain range. In the Pacific, the arid lands of Atacama contrast with the fjords and glaciers that fall into the sea in Patagonia , while the Pampas and their mountains extend from the Andes to the Atlantic. The lakes and forests cover great extensions in the cordilleranos faldeos and the coasts are populated with penguins and whales.
With one of the highest living standards in the continent, you can also find a vibrant urban life in its main cities. Buenos Aires is an icon of western culture, although Valparaíso , Santiago or Montevideo are not left behind.
South Atlantic Islands
Falkland Islands · South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
One of the most disputed territories in the world, the South Atlantic islands are ancient remnants of the British Empire. Reclaimed to date by Argentina, these islands are remote destinations outside of traditional circuits. Its harsh climate and geography frame the rugged landscapes and rich biodiversity.
The word "America" in the name of this continent was first used by Martin Waldseemuller, putting on his map the Latin version of the name Amerigo Vespucci, who, in turn, first suggested that the lands discovered by Christopher Columbus were not related to India, but were the New World, before Europeans unknown.
The history of the continent can be roughly divided into three
stages. The first is the period of formation, flourishing and decline of
autochthonous civilizations (Incas, etc.). The second is the era of
European conquest (Conquest) and colonialism 1500-1800, when most of the
continent was dependent on two European countries (Spain and Portugal).
Despite the relatively short duration, it was during this period that
the languages and cultures, economies, as well as the beginnings of
the statehood of most modern Latin American states, took shape. The
history of the countries of the Guiana coast should be considered
separately. Guyana, Suriname and, to a lesser extent, French Guiana are
markedly different from most Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries
on the continent.
There are two versions of the possible settlement of the territories of South America by humans. According to the first, the settlement came from Asia, from the territory of modern Russia, through the Bering Strait and North America, however, not all existing archaeological finds fit into this theory, in connection with which a theory is put forward about the possibility of the existence of "pre-Siberian" South American natives. The first agricultural experiences of man in South America date back to 6500 BC., when bananas, potatoes and hot red peppers began to be cultivated in the Amazon.
In an effort to open a sea route to India, Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1492 and discovered the Greater Antilles. The first expedition was followed by a second, then a third. He laid the route of his third expedition much to the south of the lands already known to him and discovered the island of Trinidad, guiding a ship between the island and an unknown coast. The Spaniards were surprised that the water along it was almost fresh. The admiral wrote in his diary: "... such a powerful river could only exist on the mainland, and there is still a mainland in the south."
Following Columbus, numerous Spanish expeditions went to South America in search of new lands and new riches - gold and jewelry.
At the end of December 1541, the flotilla of Francisco Orellana, consisting of a brigantine and four canoes, began to descend to the ocean along the Napo River. After more than a month of swimming, they ended up in a river "wide as the sea", that is, in the Amazon. On the way to the east, the Spaniards met Indian villages, saw numerous tributaries. A huge left tributary, the waters of which were "black as ink", they called the Rio Negro - "black river". Only in August 1542 did they reach the mouth of the river.
In the study of the nature of the mainland, the role of the German naturalist and geographer Alexander Humboldt, who traveled through Central and South America in 1799-1804, is great. A deeper study of individual territories of the mainland began in the 19th century. In 1821-1828, a Russian expedition led by Grigory Ivanovich Langsdorf explored the interior of Brazil. Valuable information about the geological structure, climate, plants and animals of the Amazonian lowland was collected by the English traveler Henry Bates during the expedition of 1848-1859.
The length of the mainland is 7350 km from north to south and 5180 km
from west to east. The continent is bounded on the northwest by the
Darien Gap along the Colombia-Panama border, although some believe the
Panama Canal is the boundary. Geopolitically and geographically, all of
Panama - including the segment east of the Panama Canal on the isthmus -
usually refers only to North and Central America. Almost all of mainland
South America lies on the South American Plate.
The length of the coastal region is about 26 thousand kilometers.
In South America, there is the world's highest Angel Falls in Venezuela, the highest single-stream (not divided into arms) Kaieteur Falls in Guyana, the deepest and longest river on Earth, the Amazon, the longest mountain range in the world of the Andes, the highest volcano on Earth in absolute terms. height of Ojos del Salado (6887 m.) with the highest mountain non-freezing lake (Mauna Loa is the highest mountain on the Earth, if you count from the seabed), the highest active volcano of Lyullaillaco, the driest place on Earth, excluding Antarctica, is the Atacama Desert , one of the wettest places on Earth Lopez de Mikay in Colombia, the largest rainforest - the Amazon forest, the world's highest navigable lake Titicaca; and, excluding research stations in Antarctica, the world's southernmost settlement, Puerto Toro, Chile.
Three of the highest capitals in the world are located in South America: Bogota, Quito and the highest of all, La Paz (Bolivia). In the southernmost part of the Andes is the South Patagonian Ice Plateau. There are a number of large glaciers in the northern Andes, but from 19° to 28° S the climate is so arid that even the highest peaks cannot form permanent ice.
The highest point is Mount Aconcagua, height 6,962 m. The lowest point is Laguna del Carbon (Coal Valley) in Argentina −105 m
According to the nature of the relief, South America can be divided
into the Mountainous West and the Plain East.
The average height of the mainland is 580 meters above sea level. The Andes mountain system stretches along the entire western edge. In the north of the mainland rises the Guiana Plateau, in the east - the Brazilian, between which is the Amazonian lowland. To the east of the Andes, lowlands lie in the foothills.
Geologically, quite recently, the Andes were the scene of active volcanic activity, which continues in the modern era in several areas.
The Andes are a mountain range that formed during the Cenozoic era (and is still being formed), the Altiplano high plateau and a number of large valleys, such as the Rio Magdalena.
After the collapse of the procontinent Pangea, the territory of South America in the Cretaceous period was united with Africa, Australia and Antarctica as part of the Gondwana continent. At the end of the Cretaceous, Gondwana disintegrated, and until the end of the Tertiary, South America was an island. A special fauna existed here, dominated by notoungulates. After the formation of the isthmus with North America, the influx of new fauna led to the almost complete extinction of the local fauna.
There are 6 climatic zones in South America: Subequatorial zone (2
times), Equatorial zone, Tropical zone, Subtropical zone and Temperate
Most of South America has a subequatorial and tropical climate, with well-defined dry and wet seasons; on the Amazonian lowland - equatorial, constantly humid, in the south of the mainland - subtropical and temperate. On the plains of the northern part of South America, up to the Southern Tropic, the temperature is 20-28 ° C all year round, to the south in January (summer) it drops to 10 ° C. In July, that is, in winter, average monthly temperatures drop to 10-16 ° C on the Brazilian plateau, and to 0 ° C and below on the Patagonian plateau. In the Andes, the temperature decreases markedly with height; in the highlands it does not exceed 10 °C, and frosts are not uncommon here in winter.
The windward slopes of the Andes in Colombia and the southern regions of Chile are the most humid - 5-10 thousand mm of precipitation per year.
In the southern part of the Andes and on individual volcanic peaks to the north, glaciers are found.
South America is the wettest continent on Earth.
In the political arena, the beginning of the 21st century in South
America is marked by the arrival of leftist forces, with socialist
leaders elected in countries such as Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina,
Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay and Venezuela. Against this background, in
South America, the development of a market economy and international
cooperation is noticeable everywhere, for example, the organizations
MERCOSUR and the Andean Community were created, the purpose of which is
the free movement of citizens, economic development, the removal of
customs duties and a policy of common defense.
Since 2004, the Union of South American Nations, also known as UNASUR, has existed and developed - an organization that unites almost all the countries of South America, created on the model of the European Union. Within the framework of the union, an advisory South American Defense Council has been created, it is planned to create a common parliament, as well as the creation of a single market and the elimination of customs tariffs between the participating countries.
At the ethnic level, the population of South America can be divided into three types: Indians, whites and blacks. In countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Venezuela, mestizos (descendants of the marriages of the Spaniards and the native population) predominate in demographic terms. Only in two countries (Peru and Bolivia) do Indians form a majority. Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela have significant populations of African descent.
In countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Brazil, the majority of the population is of European origin, of which in the first two the majority of the population are descendants of immigrants from Spain and Italy. Descendants of the Portuguese, Germans, Italians and Spaniards live in the south and southeast of Brazil.
Chile received a wave of emigration from Spain, Germany, England, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Greece and Croatia during the 18th and early 20th centuries. According to various sources, from 1,600,000 (10% of the population) to 4,500,000 (27%) people from the Basque Country live in this country. 1848 was the year of mass immigration of Germans (also Austrians and Swiss) and, in part, French, mainly to the southern regions of the country, hitherto completely uninhabited, but rich in nature and minerals. This immigration of Germans continued after the first and second world wars in such a way that today about 500,000 Chileans are of German origin. In addition, about 5% of the Chilean population are descendants of Christian immigrants from the Middle East (Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, Armenians). Also, about 3% of the population of Chile are genetic Croats. The descendants of the Greeks make up about 100,000 people, most of them live in Santiago and Antofagasta. About 5% of the population is of French origin. From 600,000 to 800,000 - Italian.
Germans immigrated to Brazil mainly during the 19th and 20th centuries in connection with the political and social events in their homeland. Today, about 10% of Brazilians (18 million) are of German origin. In addition, Brazil is a Latin American country with the largest number of ethnic Ukrainians (1 million).
Ethnic minorities in South America are also represented by Arabs and Japanese in Brazil, Chinese in Peru, and Indians in Guyana.
South America is in the global demographic process of the aging of the population of the Earth (except for sub-Saharan Africa) and the demographic crisis that has already been caused by it in a number of countries, both developed and developing. According to the 2019 UN forecast, world population growth will almost come to a halt by the end of the 21st century, in large part due to falling global fertility rates and an aging population. The Latin America and Caribbean region is expected to surpass Europe in population by 2037, peaking at 768 million in 2058 and starting to decline. In Latin America and the Caribbean, half of the region's population of 50 countries is expected to decline. Between 1950 and 2020, only six countries in the world lost population, due to much generally higher birth rates and relatively younger world populations. In 1950, the Latin America and Caribbean region had one of the youngest populations in the world; By 2100, Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to have the oldest population of any region in the world, in stark contrast to the 20th century. In 1950, the average age of the region was only 20 years old. This figure is projected to more than double by 2100, to 49 years. This pattern is evident when looking at individual countries in the region. For example, in 2020, the median age is expected to be in Brazil (33), Argentina (32) and Mexico (29), which will be lower than the median age in the US (38). However, by 2100, the populations of all these three Latin American countries are projected to be older than the population of the United States (since the US population will grow in the 21st century only mainly due to immigration). The median age will be 51 in Brazil, 49 in Mexico and 47 in Argentina, compared to a median of 45 in the US. Colombia is expected to experience the strongest growth in the median age of the population, more than tripling between 1965 and 2100 from 16 to 52.
The most widely spoken languages in South America are Portuguese
and Spanish. Portuguese is spoken by Brazil, whose population is about
50% of the population of this continent. Spanish is the official
language of most countries on this continent. Other languages are also
spoken in South America: in Suriname they speak Dutch, in Guyana they
speak English, and in French Guiana they speak French respectively.
You can often hear the native languages of the Indians: Quechua (Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru), Guarani (Paraguay and Bolivia), Aymara (Bolivia and Peru) and Araucanian (southern Chile and Argentina). All of them (except the last one) have an official status in the countries of their language area.
Since a significant proportion of the population of South America are immigrants from Europe, many of them still retain their own language, the most common of which are Italian and German in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela and Chile.
The most popular foreign languages studied in South America are English, French, German and Italian.
In the post-crisis years of 2010-2011, the economies of Latin America
showed significant growth rates ahead of the world average: in 2010
growth was 6%, while the forecast for 2011 is 4.7%. Due to historically
high inflation in almost all South American countries, interest rates
remain high, typically twice as high as in the United States. For
example, the interest rate is about 22% in Venezuela and 23% in
Suriname. The exception is Chile, which pursued a free market economic
policy with the establishment of a military dictatorship in 1973 and has
been actively increasing social spending since the restoration of
democratic rule in the early 1990s. This has resulted in economic
stability and low interest rates.
South America relies on the export of goods and natural resources. Brazil (the seventh largest economy in the world and the second largest in the Americas) leads in total exports of $137.8 billion, followed by Chile with $58.12 billion and Argentina with $46.46 billion.
The economic gap between rich and poor in most South American countries is considered larger than in most other continents. In Venezuela, Paraguay, Bolivia and many other countries in South America, the richest 20% own more than 60% of the country's wealth, while the poorest 20% own less than 5%. Such a wide gap can be seen in many major South American cities, where makeshift shacks and slums sit next to skyscrapers and luxury apartments.
Tourism is an increasingly important source of income for many countries in South America. Historical landmarks, architectural and natural wonders, a diverse range of food and culture, picturesque cities, and stunning landscapes draw millions of tourists to South America every year. Some of the most visited places in the region: Machu Picchu, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Natal, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Cusco, Cartagena, Amazon rainforest, Angel Falls, Galapagos Islands, Margarita Island, Lake Titicaca and region of Patagonia.
South American culture has been influenced by historical ties to
Europe, especially Spain and Portugal, as well as popular culture from
the United States of America.
South American countries have a rich tradition of music. The most famous genres are cumbia from Colombia, samba, bossa nova from Brazil, and tango from Argentina and Uruguay. Also well known is the non-commercial folk genre Nueva Canción, a musical movement that was founded in Argentina and Chile and quickly spread to the rest of Latin America. People on the Peruvian coast created excellent duets and trios on guitar and cajon in a mixed style of South American rhythms, such as Marinera (Marinera) in Lima, Tondero (Tondero) in Piura, Creole waltz or Peruvian waltz was popular in the 19th century, soulful Arequipan Yaravi and, at the beginning of the 20th century, Paraguayan Guarania. At the end of the 20th century, Spanish rock appeared under the influence of British and American pop rock. Brazil was characterized by Portuguese pop-rock.
South American literature became popular all over the world, especially during the Latin American Boom in the 1960s and 1970s, and after the emergence of authors such as Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel García Márquez, Pablo Neruda, Jorge Luis Borges.
Due to the wide ethnic ties, South American cuisine has taken a lot from African, American Indian, Asian and European peoples. For example, the cuisine in Bahia, Brazil is well known for its West African roots. Argentines, Chileans, Uruguayans, Brazilians and Venezuelans regularly consume wine, while Argentina along with Paraguay, Uruguay, and people living in southern Chile and Brazil prefer mate or the Paraguayan version of this drink - terrere, which differs from other themes that it is served cold. Pisco is a distilled grape liqueur produced in Peru and Chile, however, there are constant disputes between these countries regarding its origin. Peruvian cuisine mixes elements of Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, African and Andean cuisines.
Sports play an important role in South America. The most popular
sport is football, professionally represented by the Confederation of
South American Football (CONMEBOL), which is part of FIFA and organizes
tournaments, the main of which are the America's Cup (international
tournament) and the Copa Libertadores (competition between clubs). In
Uruguay, the country of South America, the first World Cup was held in
1930, and in the entire history of the competition, the countries of
South America have won 9 times out of 19 (Brazil 5 times, Argentina and
Uruguay 2 times each).
Other popular sports are basketball, swimming and volleyball. Some countries have national sports such as pato in Argentina, tejo in Colombia, and rodeo in Chile.
As for other sports, the popularity of rugby, polo and hockey in Argentina, motorsports in Brazil and cycling in Colombia can be highlighted. Argentina, Chile and Brazil have become Grand Slam tennis champions.