Skip to Content

South America

« Back to Glossary Index

Geography and Climate of South America:
– South America is delimited by the Darién watershed and sits on the South American Plate.
– Home to superlatives like Angel Falls, Kaieteur Falls, the Amazon River, and the Andes.
– Major mineral resources include gold, silver, copper, iron ore, tin, and petroleum.
– All major climate zones are present in South America due to its latitudinal span.
– The continent experiences varied weather patterns and temperature ranges.
– The region has a diverse climate ranging from tropical to polar.
– Different regions like the Southern Cone, Amazon basin, Brazilian plateau, Argentine pampas, and Andean region have distinct climates and rainfall patterns.
– Factors influencing climates include sea currents like the Humboldt and Falklands currents, wind patterns, and monsoon regimes.

Population, Economy, and History of South America:
– South America has a population of over 434 million people.
– The GDP of South America is estimated at $7.61 trillion (PPP) and $3.62 trillion (nominal), with a GDP per capita of approximately $8,340.
– Christianity is the predominant religion in South America.
– The continent has a rich cultural heritage shaped by Indigenous, European, and African influences.
– South America has a history of colonialism, with Spanish and Portuguese languages widely spoken.
– Brazil covers almost half of the continent’s land area and population.
– The geography is characterized by the Andes mountains and the Amazon rainforest.
– South America was inhabited by humans at least 15,000 years ago, with evidence of early agrarian communities and civilizations.

Fauna and Biodiversity of South America:
– South America is highly biodiverse, with unique animals like llamas, anacondas, jaguars, and tapirs.
– The Amazon rainforests are rich in biodiversity, and Brazil alone contains approximately 10% of Earth’s species.
– 83% of large mammals in South America became extinct around 11,000 years ago.
– The continent has a diverse range of fauna and ecosystems, contributing to its biodiversity.

European Colonization and Independence in South America:
– Treaty of Tordesillas divided the Americas between Spain and Portugal, leading to exploitation of resources and people.
– European colonization led to the decline of native populations and the introduction of Western culture and languages.
– Independence movements were influenced by the Napoleonic Wars, with key figures like Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin leading wars of independence.
– Slavery was prevalent in South American colonies, with Brazil being the last country to abolish it in the Western world.
– Cultural influences from Spanish and Portuguese colonization shaped art, architecture, and language in South America.

Wars, Conflicts, and International Interventions in South America:
– South America experienced wars and conflicts that led to territorial changes and political instability.
– International interventions by countries like the United Kingdom, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile influenced the outcomes of conflicts.
– Military advancements and conflicts, such as the Paraguayan War and the War of the Pacific, shaped the region’s history and borders.
– Participation in global conflicts like the First World War impacted South American nations and their relationships with other countries.
– The fragmentation of newly independent nations led to civil and international wars, impacting the stability and development of South America.

South America (Wikipedia)

South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a considerably smaller portion in the Northern Hemisphere. It can also be described as the southern subregion of the Americas.

South America
Area17,840,000 km2 (6,890,000 sq mi) (4th)
Population434,254,119 (2021; 5th)
Population density21.4/km2 (56.0/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)$7.61 trillion (2022 est; 5th)
GDP (nominal)$3.62 trillion (2022 est; 4th)
GDP per capita$8,340 (2022 est; 5th)
DemonymSouth American
Time zonesUTC−02:00 to UTC−05:00
Largest cities
UN M49 code005 – South America
419Latin America and the Caribbean
Scheme for geographic regions and subregions used by the United Nations Statistics Division

South America is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east by the Atlantic Ocean; North America and the Caribbean Sea lie to the northwest. The continent is generally taken to include twelve sovereign states: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela; two dependent territories: the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; and one internal territory: French Guiana. In addition, the ABC islands of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Ascension Island (dependency of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, a British Overseas Territory), Bouvet Island (dependency of Norway), Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago may also be considered parts of South America.

South America has an area of 17,840,000 square kilometers (6,890,000 sq mi). Its population as of 2021 has been estimated at more than 434 million. South America ranks fourth in area (after Asia, Africa, and North America) and fifth in population (after Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America). Brazil is by far the most populous South American country, with almost half of the continent's population, followed by Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela and Peru. In recent decades, Brazil has also generated half of the continent's GDP and has become the continent's first regional power.

Most of the population lives near the continent's western or eastern coasts while the interior and the far south are sparsely populated. The geography of western South America is dominated by the Andes mountains; in contrast, the eastern part contains both highland regions and vast lowlands where rivers such as the Amazon, Orinoco and Paraná flow. Most of the continent lies in the tropics, except for a large part of the Southern Cone located in the middle latitudes.

The continent's cultural and ethnic outlook has its origin with the interaction of Indigenous peoples with European conquerors and immigrants and, more locally, with African slaves. Given a long history of colonialism, the overwhelming majority of South Americans speak Spanish or Portuguese, and societies and states are rich in Western traditions. Relative to Europe, Asia and Africa, post-1900 South America has been a peaceful continent with few wars.

« Back to Glossary Index