When the ships of Christopher Columbus reached Cuba and Haiti in 1492, the Portuguese were sure they had landed in the West Indies. However, in fact, they opened to the world previously unknown lands, which later became known as South America and North America. See South America abbreviations.
South America was once also called “Spanish America”, but the times when the Spaniards and the Portuguese ruled on this continent are long gone. Now in South America there are 12 completely independent states, each of which is of great interest to inquisitive travelers.
Geography of South America
Most of the continent of South America is located in the southern hemisphere of the Earth. In the west, South America is washed by the waters of the Pacific Ocean, and in the east of the continent by the Atlantic Ocean. To the north, the Isthmus of Panama and the Caribbean Sea separate South America from North America.
There are many islands in South America – Tierra del Fuego, Falkland Islands, Chiloe, Galapagos Islands, Wellington, etc. The total area of South America is exactly 17.757 million square meters. km. This is approximately 12% of the Earth’s land mass.
The climate, in most of the South American continent, is equatorial, subequatorial and tropical. In the south, the climate is subtropical and temperate. Ocean currents and mountain systems have a huge influence on the climate of South America.
The longest river in South America is the Amazon (6,280 km), which flows through Peru and Brazil. The largest South American rivers also include: Parana, Sao Francisco, Tocantins, Orinoco and Uruguay.
There are several very beautiful lakes in South America – Maracaibo (Venezuela), Titicaca (Peru and Bolivia), and Poopo (Bolivia).
On the territory of the equatorial belt of South America there are dense moist equatorial forests – selva, and in the depths of the continent there are tropical and subtropical steppes – campos.
The Andes mountain range (Southern Cordillera) runs through almost the entire territory of South America, the length of which is about 9 thousand kilometers.
The highest mountain of this continent is Aconcagua (6959 meters).
South American population
At the moment, the population of South America reaches 390 million people. This is the fifth place among all continents in terms of population (Asia is in first place, then Africa, Europe and North America).
Representatives of all three major races live on the territory of the South American continent – Caucasians, Mongoloids and Negroids. Since the mixing of races in South America went without any problems, now there are many representatives of mixed racial groups (mestizos, mulattoes, sambos) on this continent. South American natives (Indians) belong to the Mongoloid race. The largest Indian peoples are the Quechua, Araucans, Aymara and Chibcha.
In the countries of South America, the population speaks mainly Spanish and Portuguese. Indian peoples speak their own local languages (for example, Araucan).
At the moment, there are 12 fully independent states in South America (Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, Guyana, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Chile, Suriname and Uruguay), as well as 3 dependent so-called. “territories” – French Guiana, the Falkland Islands and the Galapagos Islands. See countries in South America.
The largest South African country is Brazil with an area of 8,511,970 square kilometers, and the smallest is Suriname (163,270 square kilometers).
South America is usually divided into 3 main regions:
- Caribbean South America (Guyana, Colombia, Suriname, Venezuela, French Guiana).
- Andean states (Chile, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia).
- Southern Cone (Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay).
However, sometimes South America is divided into other regions:
- Andean countries (Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, Peru and Bolivia);
- Laplat countries (Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay);
Cities in South America began to appear during the empires of South American Indians – the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas. Perhaps the most ancient South American city is the city of Caral in Peru, founded by the Indians, as archaeologists believe, about 5 thousand years ago.
Now the most populous South American city is Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, which is home to almost 13 million people. Other major cities in South America are Bogota, Sao Paulo, Lima, and Rio de Janeiro.