Welcome to South America! A land teeming with amazing natural landscapes, a range of diverse cultures, and an abundance of unique wildlife. From the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu perched atop misty peaks to the world’s largest rainforest, South America is a treasure trove of world wonders. So sit back, buckle up, and get ready for a thrilling ride as we dive into some fascinating facts about South America
Interesting and Fun Facts About South America
South America is the fourth largest continent with a land area of 17,814,000 sq km (6,878,000 sq miles). It takes up taking up one-eighth of the Earth in the southern portion of the Western Hemisphere.
There are extra marvels such as Galapagos Islands, breathtaking Iguazu Falls plus the South Sandwich islands off its coast making this locale truly inviting for nature lovers. south america dates
From the majestic Andes to the depths of the Amazon Rainforest, this is one destination that never fails to amaze you! Unearth these facts about South America and its geographical wonders, vibrant civilizations, and quirky traditions as we delve into everything it has to offer.
1. The Name South America
While Christopher Columbus was the first to sail to the New World from Europe, the Americas were actually named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci who later explored the new continents between 1499 and 1502. He was the first to suggest that North and South America were their own continents and not part of the East Indies. Hence, he was given the honor of having nearly an entire hemisphere named after him. Not bad!
2. South America is High
South America is a high continent with plenty of tall things. It has the highest capital in the world. La Paz in Bolivia has an elevation of 3,650m (11,975 feet).
In Venezuela, you’ll find the highest waterfall in the world – Angel Falls has a cascade of 979 meters (3211 feet)!
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world sitting at an altitude of 3,800 meters (12,500 feet). It is the biggest lake in South America and Lake Titicaca is one of the continent’s most popular tourist attractions.
Mount Aconcagua is the Highest Mountain In The Western Hemisphere. Reaching a towering height of 6,959 meters (22,841 feet) above sea level, Mount Aconcagua is also the tallest mountain outside Asia’s Himalayas.
This legendary peak is located in the Andes Mountains of Argentina. It may not be as high as Mount Everest, but it is actually 2,072 meters (6797 feet) further away from the earth’s core than Everest.
What does that actually mean? Well, it is up for debate as to what is actually the highest mountain on Earth. Another fun thing to add to your South American facts is that the Andes are the longest chain of mountains in the world.
3. Amazon River: The Second Longest River on Earth
The Amazon River, which starts in Peru and travels through Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Brazil is the second-longest river in the world after the Nile.
It stretches an impressive 6,400 km (3,977 miles) and forms a lifeline for numerous animal species found only here on Earth. Its basin houses over 1100 tributaries accounting for approximately one-fifth of all global river flow, making it a key part of our planet’s ecosystem. The mighty Amazon enjoys this critical benefit from its principal source – the incredible Amazon River!
Speaking of the Amazon, the Amazon River Basin is the largest watershed in the world occupying nearly all of northern South America with an area of 7,000,000 square km (2,700,000 sq miles).
And here is a very cool fact that I just learned while researching this post, another river flows 4km under the Amazon. The Hamza River lies below the earth and is a major drainage system of the Amazon basin.
Read more about the Amazon
4. Atacama Desert: The Driest Place on Earth
The Atacama Desert is the driest place on Earth. Just because it is arid and dry, doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful. In fact, the Atacama Desert is a stunning area filled with life and color extending more than 1,000 km along Chile’s Pacific coast.
Not seeing rain in some places for centuries has made it the perfect region to analyze climates, go star gazing, and learn how living organisms cope with intense conditions.
What makes this location remarkable is that even though its environment can be harsh, there are still many plant and animal species thriving there. An impressive demonstration of nature’s resilience throughout our world!
5. Cultural Diversity in South American Countries
The marvelous South American continent holds a rich and diverse cultural heritage made up of indigenous tribes, different languages, as well as faith practices, and religions.
Close to 300 languages are spoken throughout the region while numerous Indigenous People have kept their unique cultures and customs.
However, Christianity is still prevalent on the South American continent due to European colonization’s past influence.
6. Over 300 Languages Spoken
Let’s explore. The language and identities of the people make up such an interesting part of our world!
The South American continent is home to more than 300 indigenous languages spoken daily. Spanish and Portuguese are the official languages in most countries.
The nine Spanish speaking countries in South America include Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Uraguay
Brazil is the only country where the official language is Portuguese but there are Portuguese speakers in Uraguay, Paraguay, and Venezuela.
The Indigenous People of the South American Continent speak the Indigenous languages of Quechua, Aymara, and Guarani.
7. Indigenous People and Their Cultures
The Indigenous People of South America have held their distinct cultures for thousands of years, and include the Guaycuru, Kaiwá, Lengua, Atacama, Lule Vilela, Tapiete Araona Guarayo Quechua, and Mapuche Peoples.
The continent’s varied religious tapestry today reflects its extensive cultural background, mixing traditional beliefs with elements from Christianity.
8. Predominance of Christianity
In South America, the main religion is Christianity with roughly 57% of citizens being Roman Catholic and 19% Protestant. This high rate can be attributed to Europeans colonizing and bringing along missionaries that aimed at converting indigenous populations into adopting Christian values.
9. Remarkable Civilizations and Historical Events
South America has seen remarkable civilizations throughout its long history, like the Inca Empire and the Norte Chico civilization that thrived in the 3rd century BC. It is also home to other ancient cultures such as Paracas, Nazca, Tiwanaku, and Wari, which have left an undeniable impact on today’s culture on that continent.
With Christopher Columbus’ arrival in 1492 came the colonization of Latin American countries (including South America and Central America). But Latin America has thankfully kept its cultural legacy. Let’s delve a bit more into these ancient civilizations.
10. Inca Empire and Other Ancient Civilizations
The Inca Empire, which flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries, was a highly advanced civilization that spread across what is now Colombia to Chile. Its impressive agricultural abilities, grand structures, and well-structured society are still awe-inspiring today for archaeologists and historians alike.
A few other pre-Columbian civilizations have also made important contributions to South American culture – Norte Chico created its own unique style of artwork, Paracas perfected distinctive textiles, and Nazca left behind fascinating geoglyphs in Peru’s desert sands. Tiwanaku had developed monumental architecture with stunning works of art within it while Wari organized complex trading networks linking faraway lands together.
11. European Colonization and Independence Movements
Beginning in the late 15th century, European colonization of South America by Portugal and Spain, along with the Dutch, British, and French was instrumental in reshaping its political and cultural dynamics. This included exploiting indigenous populations through slavery and forced labor practices.
Eventually figures such as Simon Bolivar advocated for independence from foreign powers – a cause that led to numerous liberation movements across the continent forming today’s modern South American countries.
12. Notable Wars and Conflicts
The convoluted history of South America has been heavily impacted by a number of wars and conflicts, with some being far more noteworthy than others. Examples include the War of the Pacific between Chile, Bolivia, and Peru, which occurred from 1879 to 1883 and was fought over the valuable mineral deposits of the Atacama Desert.
The Chaco War took place between 1932-1935 between Paraguay and Bolivia. As well as 1982’s Falkland Islands Conflict pitting Argentina against Britain. These struggles along with numerous border quarrels or local scuffles have helped frame the political environment in this region while they strive for peace after all is said and done.
13. Unique Wildlife and Biodiversity
The South American continent has long been renowned for its amazing wildlife. Its various ecosystems such as the Amazon Rainforest, Andean region, and river provide home to countless plant and animal species that can’t be seen anywhere else on Earth.
A prominent example of this biodiversity is the spectacularly elusive Amazon River Dolphin – also known as “Pink Dolphins”. South American habitats are a haven for endangered creatures like the majestic Andean condor. Providing us with an incredible window into what Mother Nature offers our world in terms of diversity!
The rainforests particularly offer some exquisite variety when it comes down to animals. From Jaguars prowling through these lands and Torres del Paine, you’ll find many fascinating critters which thrive here too including sloths amongst plenty more extraordinary life forms found nowhere but within South America itself!
14. The Galapagos Inspired Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution
The Galapagos has one of the most unique ecosystems on Earth where you’ll find many of the region’s unique wildlife. When Charles Darwin set foot on the Galapagos Islands in 1835 during his voyage aboard the HMS Beagle, little did he know it would change the world of science forever.
This remote volcanic archipelago, perched in the middle of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador in South America, provided Darwin with the perfect natural laboratory. He was fascinated by the distinct species he encountered, especially the finches. Read more Unique Galapagos Islands Animals in Photos
Over time, Darwin pieced together the puzzle and realized the adaptations of animal species on the Galapagos were not random. Instead, they suggested a process of natural selection, where traits that enhance survival and reproduction become more common over generations. This pivotal insight became a cornerstone of Darwin’s groundbreaking theory of evolution, a testament to the inspiration he drew from the Galapagos Islands. Also read: 27 photos that will transport you to the Galápagos Islands
15. Amazon Rainforest: The World’s Most Biodiverse Ecosystem
The Amazon Rainforest covers an area of 6.7 million square kilometers, making it the largest and most diverse habitat in the world – teeming with 40,000 plant species, 427 mammals and 1,300 birds plus many other creatures. As “the lungs of Earth”, this beloved ecosystem has a significant role to play when it comes to regulating global climate while also offering up potential resources for medicine. Check out: Surprising and Fun Facts About the Amazon River
Apart from providing fresh air due to oxygen production within these rainforests that are so important for our own survival – not forgetting those hundreds of thousands of animals that live here as well! These include anacondas, tapirs, jaguars, and piranhas just to name a few. All this emphasizes how vital conservation efforts towards protecting such an amazing environment become even more necessary. Read more: What to Expect on an Amazon River Cruise – Life on the River
16. Andean Region: Home to Endangered Species
The rich biodiversity of South America’s western edge, the Andean region, is in danger due to several endangered species such as the majestic condor and rare tapir.
Protecting these animals and their habitats along with other plant life within this spectacular part of the world requires conservation efforts like national parks or reserves plus sustainable tourism initiatives. Without putting forth these safeguards, there could be devastating consequences for so many vital creatures found here on Earth’s most biodiverse continent.
17. Quirky Traditions and Culinary Delights
South America’s culture presents a unique range of customs and culinary delights that offer interesting insights into the everyday lives of its inhabitants. Let’s take a look at a few of the more interesting traditions.
18. Gnocchi Day in Argentina
Celebrated on the 29th of each month, Gnocchi Day in Argentina is an old Italian tradition introduced by immigrants in the 19th century. This event commemorates Saint Pantaleon and recognizes his association with alleviating poverty as it links to providing comfort food for all who gather together.
On this special day, people come together to enjoy a delicious plateful of gnocchi accompanied by tomato sauce and red wine, which not only reflects honor toward those Italians that have helped shape Argentinian culture but also serves up some homemade pasta pleasure!
19. Guinea Pig: A South American Delicacy
In certain countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru, the guinea pig has been a traditional dish for over 5000 years. It is treated like a delicacy in these regions. Particularly served during special occasions or festivals.
Often cooked by roasting or grilling, this meal provides an interesting flavor that pays tribute to South America’s ancient cuisine heritage. Guinea pig may sound strange to some, but it definitely brings something unique to the dining table!
20. Doorbell-Free Homes in Paraguay
In Paraguay, a traditional method for announcing one’s arrival at another person’s home has been passed down through many generations. Instead of doorbells, guests express their presence by clapping or calling out the name they are looking to visit. This particular custom gives off an atmosphere of community and closeness while bringing a bit of delightfulness into everyday life in this country.
21. South America’s Natural Resources and Contributions
South America is a vast and diverse region, boasting abundant natural resources such as minerals, energy sources, and ecosystems that generate oxygen. Gold, silver iron, and petroleum all play significant roles in both the global economy and the environment.
In view of mounting environmental issues around the world today, it is even more critical for nations to preserve their habitats responsibly using sustainable practices, making South America’s commitment to conservation particularly important at this juncture. Owing to its extensive reserves along with dedication towards sustainability, they are well placed to become a leader in sustainability.
22. Oxygen Production from Forests
Covering more than a fifth of the continent’s land area, South America’s forests are an integral part of generating over 20% of the Earth’s oxygen. These breathtakingly large ecosystems have been credited with regulating global climates and providing homes for countless types of animals.
If that doesn’t hit home that we must continue to protect these life-giving areas, I don’t know what will. They not only give life to our planet but also future generations’ well-being and vitality.
23. The abundance of Minerals and Energy Resources
South America is blessed with a plethora of minerals and energy resources, including gold, silver, iron ore, and petroleum. These deposits play an essential role in the economies of countries such as Brazil, Chile, and Peru for their mineral production and Venezuela and Colombia for their oil reserves.
24. South America Geography
There are 12 countries in South America and four territories. Brazil is the largest country in South America housing the largest city, Sao Paulo. It has a population of 21.7 million people making it one of the biggest cities on earth only behind Tokyo, Delhi, and Shanghai.
Brazil is the largest country in South America and it is bordered by nine countries. What are said countries? French Guiana, Surinam, Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
If you are wondering, Suriname is the smallest country in South America.
Two countries in South America are completely landlocked, Bolivia and Paraguay.
South America is a very long continent that reaches the far south of the world. In fact, the southernmost city on earth is Ushuaia in Argentina. Ushuaia is a popular jumping-off point to explore Antarctica and the Falkland Islands.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is unique about South America?
South America continues to be a prime attraction for travelers and explorers, due in no small part to its captivating beauty. It boasts an impressive mountain chain – the Andes which stretches across the continent – as well as awe-inspiring landscapes and varied wildlife.
The diversity of this remarkable land draws people from around the world seeking unique experiences. Making South America an increasingly sought-after destination that never ceases to amaze with its natural wonders.
What are the main languages spoken in South America?
When considering a trip to South America, it is useful to learn either Spanish or Portuguese as these two languages are spoken across the continent. Quechua, Aymara, and Guarani (which hail from various areas of the region) could also be worth exploring. Knowing some form of these indigenous dialects will certainly enrich your experience in this diverse part of the world.
What are some must-see tourist attractions in South America?
If you’re looking for incredible places to visit in South America, then look no further than Iguazu Falls, Machu Picchu and Rio de Janeiro. These attractions are a must-visit on the continent!
With so much beauty throughout this part of the world, it can be tough to decide where exactly one should go first. These three sites will provide travellers with unforgettable experiences they won’t soon forget. From breathtaking waterfalls that plunge down between Argentina and Argentina.
South America has much to captivate travelers with its diverse range of cultures, geographies, civilizations, and wildlife. From the majestic Andes Mountains right through to the lively streets of Sao Paulo this continent is full of beauty and can offer a great deal to people around the world. Preserving South American heritage while promoting cooperation could ensure that its many wonders remain for future generations to explore and enjoy.
South America offers an array of captivating features. These include Mount Aconcagua which is the highest peak in South America, the Amazon River is the second longest river in the world, the Atacama Desert is the driest place anywhere in the world; not forgetting the Atlantic Ocean coastline’s grandeur.
Read more interesting facts about Latin America