South America is the continent of nature records. The Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest lake, the Andes, the world’s longest mountain range, and Atacama, the world’s driest desert, all contribute to turning the South American continent into an eldorado of nature experiences. At the same time, world history has made the culture active and versatile with a fascinating mixed population of African, Native American and European origin.
Area: 18 million km²
Number of inhabitants: 387 million
Largest country (by population)
- Brazil – 191 million
- Colombia – 46 million
- Argentina – 41 million
- Peru – 29 million
- Venezuela – 27 million
The geography and climate of South America
The South American continent is mainly located in the southern hemisphere. The equator runs through the northern part of the continent and has named the beautiful country of Ecuador. The country’s position at the equator means, among other things, that there is only a half-degree difference in the average temperature during the coldest and hottest months. In contrast, the rest of the continent may exhibit slightly larger deviations in terms of climate. The northernmost countries have tropical climates, while the southernmost parts of Chile and Argentina down towards the Antarctic extend into the polar climate belt. The rainfall is also not evenly distributed. The huge Amazon jungle has plenty of rain throughout the year, while the Atacama Desert in northern Chile is content with about 1 mm per year.
South America’s wildlife
South American wildlife differs in some from other continents, and has adapted to the different natural areas. In the Andes, llama climbs among the scattered bushes, in the rainforests, the jaguar roams in search of deer and tapirs, when it does not reach Argentina’s elongated pampas for well-fertilized livestock. The special wildlife of the isolated Galapagos Islands, which has been developed entirely without outside influence, is a whole chapter in itself.
The population of South America
The population of South America is as complex as nature is diverse. The continent’s forefathers, Inca Indians, Mayan Indians and Aztecs built up highly developed civilizations crushed by Spanish and Portuguese conquerors with dreams of fertile agricultural lands and gilded eldoradon. Today, miseries, which are descendants of both Indians and Europeans, make up the majority of the population. The rest are exclusively European in origin or have African ancestors, which were shipped mainly to Brazil from Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the most impassable rainforest areas and in the high plains of the Andes, the native population has avoided European influence, and in some places in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, old Incas languages are still spoken.
|Countries||Proportion of HIV-infected adults (15–49 years) (per cent)||Proportion of HIV-infected young women (15–24 years) (percent)||Proportion of HIV-infected young men (15–24 years) (per cent)|
|Argentina||0.4 (2019)||0.1 (2019)||0.1 (2019)|
|Bolivia||0.2 (2019)||0.1 (2019)||0.1 (2019)|
|Chile||0.5 (2019)||0.1 (2019)||0.2 (2019)|
|Colombia||0.5 (2019)||0.1 (2019)||0.1 (2019)|
|Ecuador||0.4 (2019)||0.1 (2019)||0.1 (2019)|
|Guyana||1.4 (2019)||0.3 (2019)||0.2 (2019)|
|Paraguay||0.5 (2019)||0.1 (2019)||0.2 (2019)|
|Peru||0.3 (2019)||0.1 (2019)||0.1 (2019)|
|Suriname||1.3 (2019)||0.3 (2019)||0.2 (2019)|
|Venezuela||0.6 (2019)||0.3 (2019)||0.2 (2019)|
History of South America
The first European on the continent was Columbus who landed in the Bahamas in 1492, believing that he had come to some hitherto unknown Indian islands. It was Amerigo Vespucci who first discovered that it was a new continent. The new continent came to have its name after him. Soon, exploration of the “new world” began to take off, and Spain and Portugal shared virtually all of South America among themselves. In the first quarter of the 19th century, almost all countries became independent, but European dominance has left clear traces in the culture of several of the South American countries.
Travel to South America
On a trip to South America, nature experiences are basically a must. A cruise between the Galapagos Islands means close contact with turtles, sea lions and sea iguanas. In Ecuador, you can hike on the volcanoes of the Andes or explore the Amazon based on a genuine jungle lodge, while the huge waterfall Iguazu can be experienced on the border between Brazil and Argentina. But there is much more to see on the multi-faceted continent. You can plan your trip past small colonial cities with cozy, paved streets and buildings in classic Baroque style. There are also great experiences to be had in the region’s major cities such as the Buenos Aires city of Tangon or the world’s most beautiful metropolis – Rio de Janeiro. History Indians can meet on trips to Cuzco and in the forgotten Machu Picchu town in Peru; today’s Indians are found on floating islands of reed in the high Titicaca lake. A trip to South America can also contain a good deal of mysticism, for example in the form of the fascinating Nazi lines in geometric and animal-like shapes or on the mythical Easter Island with its colossal stone sculptures of up to 40 tons.