Interesting Facts About South America
South America is the fourth largest and the fifth most populous continent in the world. It is located mostly in the Southern Hemisphere with only a small portion spanning the Northern Hemisphere. It includes 12 sovereign states and 2 non-sovereign areas which are overseas territories of the French and the British. In this section we look at some of the interesting facts about South America.
South America - On The Map
- South America was named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.
- The Inca, the Maya and the Aztec were the three great civilizations in South American history.
- The Mayans flourished during the Pre-Classic & Classic Era and disappeared gradually after that.
- The Incas lived in cities built of stone in the Andes Mountains. They perished due to too many conflicts and wars.
- The Aztecs were one of the most powerful civilizations with a mighty capital called Tenochtitlan. They were powerful until 1519, before the conflict with the Spanish.
- South America is divided into 13 countries.
- Brazil is the largest country in South America (fifth largest in the world).
- It shares boundaries with 11 countries except Chile and Ecuador.
- The remaining territories are divided into The Andean States, The Guianas and The Southern Cone.
- Suriname is the smallest country in South America.
- South America has the shortest coastline for any continent of its size. This is due to its triangular shape.
- The Equator and Tropic of Capricorn passes through South America.
- Sao Paulo (Brazil) is the largest city in South America.
- La Paz is the Administrative Capital of Bolivia (Seat of the Government).
- Sucre is the Legal Capital of Bolivia (Seat of the Judiciary).
- La Paz is the highest capital in the world.
- Buenos Aires is the most populous city in Argentina. It is also Argentina’s capital.
- Argentina is called ‘Land of Cattle and Wheat’.
- Cueva da las Manos popularly known as the ‘Cave of the Hands’ is in Argentina.
- Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World is in Peru.
- Paraguay and Bolivia are the only landlocked countries in South America.
- Bolivia is the largest landlocked country in South America.
- The Andes (7,000km) is the longest mountain range in the world.
- It is also the second highest mountain system in the world next only to the Himalayas.
- The Andes, like the Himalayas are young fold mountains.
- Mt. Aconcagua is the highest peak in the Andes measuring up to 6,962m.
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- Cotopaxi in Ecuador is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world.
- Amazon originates in the Andes Mountains.
- The Amazon is the largest river in the world in terms of volume.
- It is the longest river in South America and the second longest (after the Nile) in the world.
- The Amazon Rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world.
- Around 20% of all the plants discovered to have anti-cancer properties are found only in the South American Rainforests.
- South America is home to 40% of the world’s plant and animal species.
- Anaconda, the heaviest snake on earth is found in South America.
- Andean Condor is the largest bird of prey in the world.
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- Ant-eaters and Armadillos are the most ancient mammals found in South America.
- Llamas are strange domesticated South American camels used as meat and pack animals.
- Minuscule Orchid (world’s smallest orchid) was discovered in Ecuador.
- Quinine, the first drug that was used to treat malaria is obtained from the Cinchona tree in Ecuador.
- South America is one of the most bio-diverse continents on the planet.
- Around 20% of Earth’s oxygen is produced in South America.
- The Angel Falls in Venezuela is the highest waterfalls in the world.
- The Atacama Desert (Chile) is the driest place on the planet.
- Lake Maracaibo (Venezuela) is the largest lake in South America.
- Lake Titicaca is the highest commercially navigable lake in the world.
- Slar de Uyuni (Bolivia) is the largest salt water lake in the world.
- South America is connected to North America by the Isthmus of Panama.
- Spanish and Portuguese are the main languages of South America.
- The official language of Guyana is English.
- The official language of French Guiana is French.
- The major religions are Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.
- Brazil won the highest number of FIFA World Cups.
- Patagonia (Argentina) has one of the highest wind energy potential on earth.
- The most popular genres of music in South America include ‘Samba’ of Brazil, ‘Tango’ of Argentina & Uruguay and ‘Cumbia’ of Colombia.
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