South America is a land of contrasts. The Andes tower over the continent and share a number of unique ecosystems. From tropical rainforests to volcanic islands to arid deserts, South America has it all.
With so much going on, it's no wonder South America is such an interesting place. If you're wondering what makes this continent so fascinating, read on. We've compiled a list of our favorite facts about South America, ranging from fascinating to downright bizarre.
Without further ado, here are 21 Amazing Facts About South America That Will Make You Jump On A Plane Right Away!
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- Amazing facts about Argentina
- Mind-blowing facts about Bolivia
- Fascinating facts about Brazil
- Fun facts about Colombia
- Phenomenal facts about Peru
21 Amazing Facts About South America
1. Another river flows under the Amazon
The Amazon is arguably the most famous in the world, but there is an underground canal just 4km below. Named after the leader of the research team that discovered it, the Hamza River is not a river in the traditional sense.
Strange actuallyflows verticallyat depths of about 2 km before changing direction to be close enough to horizontal. Despite being as long as the Amazon, this subterranean river does not have the same volume of water despite being wider.
2. In Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, the guinea pig is eaten as a delicacy
Although many of us consider guinea pigs pets, they have been eaten in the aforementioned Andean countries for centuries. Traditionally, guinea pigs have long been used in upland communities. They were grown in large numbers for additional heating in homes, used in shamanic rituals, and eaten on special occasions.
Usually served fried, baked or roasted, guinea pigs look strikingly similar to their current state - they're even served complete with their chips! While guinea pig isn't the most visually appealing dish, many love the taste, claiming that the meaty flavor goes with it and the crispy skin is comparable to chicken.
Many mainland visitors want to try guinea pigs, but others are opposed. Where do you fall on the spectrum? If you have visited any of these Andean countries,Would you try a guinea pig??
3. Nine countries in South America speak Spanish
there are nineSpanish speaking countries in South America. These are:
Although Spanish is an official language in all of these countries, many of them have multiple registered languages that also include traditional indigenous languages. In fact, Bolivia has over 30 officially recognized!
4. South America is home to the highest navigable lake in the world
On the border between Peru and Bolivia lies the huge Lake Titicaca. This vast lake is more than 120 miles long, 50 miles wide, and is approximately 12,000 feet (3,812 feet) above sea level. The lake is home to a number of iconicsouth american islandspopular with travelers. This includes man-made onesUros Islands, Island of the Sun and Island of the Moon.
The lake has long been important to ancient religions and cultures, including the Incas, who believed it to be the birthplace of the sun. Nowadays, it has become a spiritual center for the continent, with open-minded travelers flocking in droves to recharge their batteries, eat vegan food, and practice yoga and meditation.
5. The biggest carnival celebrations in the world take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
south american carnivalIt's one of the biggest parties in the world. Celebrated across the continent, this annual holiday comes just before the Christian tradition of Lent. But nowhere are the celebrations as lively as inRio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Around a million tourists flock to this city every year for the occasion and are joined by another million on the streets every day, making these carnival celebrations the largest in the world.
Revenue from the Rio Carnival, including ticket sales, costumes, sponsorships and advertising, is estimated at over $40 million! Of the many samba schools that participate in carnival competitions, the top 12 spend nearly $5 million on their shows. Carnival is big business!
6. South America is home to the largest rodent on earth.
Since capybaras are my favorite animals, I couldn't resist squeezing out this South American fact! Capybaras are the largest rodents and although they are closely related to guinea pigs, they look more like very large beavers.
Since they are semi-aquatic animals, they live in wetlands near dense forests. If you plan to go to the Amazon or explore the pampas, you have a good chance of seeing them.
Capybaras are known for their relaxed demeanor, and it's not uncommon to see other smaller animals perched atop their heads. Monkeys and birds are among those commonly seen hitchhiking. And we didn't think that it's possible to find a cheaper means of transport than Bolivian motorcycle taxis!
7. The Galapagos Islands inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution
Sitting off the coast of mainland EcuadorGalapagos Islands. As centers of biodiversity, these islands were at the center of Darwin's research when he formulated his famous theory of evolution.
Darwin studied the animals of the archipelago and used his findings to build his theory. Something that caught his attention he learned while observing the archipelago's finches. By examining the different shapes of the beaks, he found that each had adapted to its own diet and environment. He later came to believe that they all descended from the same lineage.
Darwin's research in the Galapagos later served as the basis for his seminal bookThe Origin of Species.
8. The largest salt flats in the world are in Bolivia
Covering an area of more than 10,500 km,let's sleepIt holds the distinction of being the largest salt flats in the world. Possibly the most popular attraction in Bolivia, this incredible area is covered in a meter high crust of salt.
The salt is collected in the apartments and grown for sale. It is used for street cleaning and even as table salt. You can buy this as a souvenir when you visit. Every year during the rainy season the soils are transformed into the world's largest mirror, a natural wonder that has to be seen first hand to be believed!
9. Mount Aconcagua in Argentina is the easiest of the Seven Summits
I want to say from the start that I'm not saying that trekking in any of theseven sumsItIt's obviously easy, they're all insanely tough. However, according to the climbers, Argentina's Aconcagua is destined to be the easiest of the seven.
This is because you can follow a trekking route all the way. It's also not particularly technical terrain for experienced climbers. The main obstacle to climbing Aconcagua is the altitude, which hikers sometimes underestimate.
Related: Hiking in Argentina – The best trails!
10. Venezuela takes its name from the Italian city of Venice
The country of Venezuela was named after Amerigo Vespucci. Together with Alonso de Ojeda he led a naval expedition there in 1499. When he arrived he was surprised to see stilt cities built over the water. It reminded him of Venice, which led him to name the region "Venezuola". In Italian, this means “little Venice”.
11. The world's most notorious drug dealer came from Colombia
As those of you who have seen the unbelievableAnesthesiaAs you know, Pablo Escobar was a feared name for years. The most famous drug lord in the world ruled the Medellín cartel and thus the whole country and exported cocaine in record quantities.
Escobar's rule fostered corruption, brutality and fear, and Colombia became one of the most dangerous countries in the world. This also fueled a civil war that officially ended in 2016.
It has taken the people of Colombia years to recover from the trauma of the cartel. However, in recent years the country has worked hard to renew its image and has successfully marketed itself as an attractive country.digital nomadand destination of the traveller.
12. There are more than 300 national parks in South America.
You are likely to find beautiful nature reserves and national parks anywhere in the world. South America is no different. there are more than 300National Parks in South America, from high-altitude locations to dreamy coastal getaways.
As centers for nature and biodiversity, nature parks receive appropriate state protection, mostly for nature conservation reasons. Although it's difficult to choose between national parks in South America, we love Torres del Paine and the Galapagos!
13. Latin American and South American mean different things
Although these terms are often used interchangeably, Latin America and South America are two different things. South America refers to the South American continent where you will find countries like Colombia and Argentina.
Latin American refers to a shared culture that commonly includes historical experiences and language. In general, Latin America refers to countries within the Americas that speak one of the Latin languages, e.g. B. Portuguese, French and Spanish.
Confusingly, there is much debate about which countries should be included under the Latin American umbrella. Traditionally includes Central American and Caribbean countries.
Guyana, Belize and Suriname do not fit the Latin American definitions as their official languages are English and Dutch respectively.
14. Uruguay is the safest country in South America
South America doesn't have a good reputation when it comes to safety. However, it may actually be safer than you think! According to thatGlobal Peace Index, the only South American countries rated less safe than the United States are Colombia,Braziland Venezuela!
The safest is Uruguay, known for its high standard of living, liberal laws and low crime rate. If you are concerned about safety and want more information to help you plan your trip, read this post on thesafest countries in south america.
See also:Is South America Safe?
15. Coca leaves are commonly consumed in South America but are banned outside of the continent
Coca is a plant native to South America. It has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries and is still used today to relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness. The leaves can be brewed into a tea or chewed. Chewing the leaves produces a slightly stimulating effect.
Although coca is readily available in many Andean countries, the leaf is the basic ingredient in cocaine, meaning there are strict rules on cultivation and export. Coca leaves are banned in the US and UK, as well as many other countries.
While it's perfectly legal for you to use coke in many parts of South America, be aware that if you have to take a drug test soon afterward, it will result in a positive cocaine result. Make sure you have used up all your coca products before leaving the country to avoid problems at customs!
16. Ecuador has granted constitutional rights to nature
Home to the biodiverse Galapagos Islands, Ecuador has recognized the power of nature faster than most. In 2008, Mother Earth's rights were enshrined in a constitutional document, making Ecuador the first country to give maximum rights to nature.
According to the text of the constitution, Pachamama (Mother Earth) has the right to exist and "to maintain and regenerate her cycles, structure, functions and evolutionary processes". What great news for humanity and the planet!
17. The Andes are the longest continental mountain range in the world
The impressive Andes mountain range acts as the backbone of South America. Spanning 7,000 km and covering a whopping seven countries, no trip to the continent is complete without a few hikes in the mountains. Check out these for inspirationEpic Mountain Quotes!
18. South America's main exports are food
Although the dominant product varies from country to country, most of the continent's exports are distinct food products. WhatSouth America is famous for its coffee, it's probably no surprise that this is a huge export.
Soybeans and related products also make up a large portion of exports, used both as livestock feed and as an ingredient in biofuels. Only 7% of soy goes into meat and dairy substitutes.
The south of the continent accounts for the majority of meat exports, with beef being the main product. Bananas, sugar, cocoa and corn are also major exports from the continent.
19. Salt has been banned from restaurants in Montevideo, Uruguay
Sitting in a restaurant in Montevideo and want to try a delicious barbecue? Don't waste time looking for salt. You can also forget about ketchup and mayonnaise. Uruguay's capital has banned placing high-sodium condiments on tables by default.
If you want any of these things, you have to ask for them. This was done in an attempt to reduce people's salt intake and promote a healthier lifestyle. Around40%of the Uruguayan population has hypertension.
20. The Panamericana is the longest motorable highway in the world (sort of)
The Panamericana starts in Alaska in North America and ends in Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. It is the longest motorable highway in the world. It travels through North America, Central America and through most of South America.
However, it is not possible to drive everything. The Darien Gap is quite an obstacle. Stretching 100 to 160 km between Panama and Colombia, this roadless stretch of America prevents anyone from driving non-stop from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. It's arguably the most dangerous place on earth with drug dealers, paramilitary groups and human traffickers using the jungle to operate under the radar. Oh, and due to the small human footprint, the area is also teeming with deadly animals!
Many travelers are lookingsouth america road tripChoose the Panamerican Highway as your route. This is because the directions are good and the road is generally well connected.
21. There are hardly any doorbells in Paraguay
Perhaps you are used to visitors announcing their arrival with your doorbell. But not when you are in Paraguay! Very few houses in Paraguay have doorbells and visitors clap for 3-4 seconds to announce their presence.
Do you have additional information about South America for our list? Tell us in the comments!
Prostitute Sheree |Publisher @ America del Sur Backpacker +fly the world
Sheree is the clumsy British traveler behind wingingtheworld.com, a travel blog dedicated to showing that even the most useless of us can travel. Follow the adventures of Sheree as she stumbles around the world, falling into squat toilets, jumping into machete-wielding cars and running from angry peacocks.
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South America is home to the world's highest uninterrupted waterfall, Angel Falls in Venezuela; the highest single drop waterfall Kaieteur Falls in Guyana; the largest river by volume, the Amazon River; the longest mountain range, the Andes (whose highest mountain is Aconcagua at 6,962 m or 22,841 ft); the driest non- ...What are 2 facts about South America? ›
South America is the 4th biggest continent. The population of South America was recorded at over 387 million in 2010. The average life expectancy of a South American is 75 years. South America is a huge continent and so the climate can vary depending on where you are.What are 5 facts about the South? ›
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- There's an island in South Carolina where only monkeys are allowed. ...
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|#||Country (or dependency)||Net Change|
Brazil is the largest economy in South America, followed by Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Peru. These five together hold a huge 90% share of the South American economy.What are the 12 countries in South America? ›
It is divided politically into 12 independent countries— Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela —and the overseas department of French Guiana .What is South America rich for? ›
South America has diverse agricultural products, vast mineral wealth, and plentiful freshwater. It also has rich fisheries and ports on three bodies of water: the Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and Pacific Ocean. The continent's economy is centered on the export of natural resources.Why is it called South America? ›
South America and North America are named after Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci, who was the first European to suggest that the Americas were not part of the East Indies, but an entirely separate landmass. The portions of the landmass that lie south of the Isthmus of Panama became known as South America.How did South America get its name? ›
The naming of the Americas, or America, occurred shortly after Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the Americas in 1492. It is generally accepted that the name derives from Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer, who explored the new continents in the following years on behalf of Spain and Portugal.
Happiness index - Country rankings
The average for 2021 based on 10 countries was 5.79 points. The highest value was in Uruguay: 6.47 points and the lowest value was in Venezuela: 4.93 points. The indicator is available from 2013 to 2021. Below is a chart for all countries where data are available.
Old World refers to Europe, Africa, and Asia, while New World refers to North America, South America, and the Caribbean.What are 10 facts about South Africa? ›
- The only country in the world with 3 capital cities.
- You can swim with penguins in South Africa.
- South Africa is the second largest producer of fruit on the planet.
- The Table Mountain is one of the world's oldest mountains.
- Tugela Falls is world's tallest waterfall.
South Africa is home to the oldest meteor scar in the world – the Vredefort Dome in a town called Parys. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The South African Rovos Rail is considered the most luxurious train in the world. South Africa is home to the highest commercial bungi jump in the world at 710 feet.What are the 14 states of the South? ›
As defined by the U.S. federal government, it includes Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.Are babies born in Antarctica? ›
Since then we've been reminded of another… Eleven babies have been born in Antarctica, and none of them died as infants. Antarctica therefore has the lowest infant mortality rate of any continent: 0%. What's crazier is why the babies were born there in the first place.Do kids live in Antarctica? ›
The largest station, McMurdo Station, has a summer population of about 1,000 people and a winter population of about 200. At least 11 children have been born in Antarctica.Was Antarctica frozen? ›
Antarctica hasn't always been covered with ice – the continent lay over the south pole without freezing over for almost 100 million years. Then, about 34 million years ago, a dramatic shift in climate happened at the boundary between the Eocene and Oligocene epochs.What is South America's richest country? ›
- Brazil - $35.21 Bn.
- Argentina - $33.98 Bn.
- Venezuela - $13.83 Bn.
- Colombia - $10.19 Bn.
- Chile - $9.68 Bn.
- Peru - $5.83 Bn.
- Ecuador - $2.86 Bn.
- Uruguay - $2.54 Bn.
Based on annual gross domestic product, which is the total amount of goods and services produced in a country per year, Brazil leads the regional ranking, followed by Mexico, Argentina, and Chile.What is the 2 smallest country in South America? ›
South America's second-smallest country, Uruguay is bordered by Brazil and Argentina and lies along the Atlantic Ocean.What is the 2 largest country in South America? ›
Brazil is the largest country by far, with a total area of over 8.5 million square kilometers, followed by Argentina, with almost 2.8 million square kilometers.What is the most popular sport in South America? ›
Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in continental Latin America, while baseball is more popular in the Caribbean, including the Caribbean shores of Mexico, Central, and South America.What is South America's largest city? ›
Buenos Aires is the largest city in South America. It is the capital of Argentina.What are 3 interesting facts about Bolivia? ›
- Bolivia is home to 37 official languages.
- Sucre is the official capital of Bolivia.
- Salar de Uyuni is the world's biggest mirror!
- Simón Bolívar is known as the Liberator.
- Bolivia is a landlocked country.
- Altitude sickness can be a concern in La Paz!
Uruguay. According to the GPI, Uruguay is the safest country in South America, ranking 46th in the world with a score of 1.795. It's one of the most economically developed countries on the continent, with a low level of corruption, stable democracy and a high standard of living.Are there 35 countries in South America? ›
The fourth-largest continent on Earth, South America has a total area of roughly 17,835,252 km2 (6,886,229 mi2), divided between 12 countries and a handful of territories, including French Guiana and the Falkland Islands.What are 5 interesting facts about Nicaragua? ›
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- The country has around 2,000 dishes.
- Where you would go if you could travel anywhere right now. ...
- The things you're allergic to. ...
- Your favorite type of food. ...
- Your favorite ice cream. ...
- Your go-to cocktail order. ...
- The last song you played on Spotify. ...
- Your guilty pleasure TV show.
- Christmas was banned for 30 years. ...
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There is a large gap between 3rd ranked Europe ($31,589), and 4th ranked Asia ($8,034). Europe is at 2nd place, Oceania is at 3rd, and South America is at 4th position in ppp methods. Africa is the poorest continent in the world.How much is South America worth? ›
|GDP||$3.573 trillion (nominal, 2022) $6.567 trillion (PPP, 2017)|
|GDP growth||Per capita: 5.5% (2008)|
|GDP per capita||nominal: US$9,239 (2016) PPP: US$14,156 (2016)|
|Millionaires (US$)||400,000 (0.011%)|
What is the richest country in the world? The richest country in the world is Qatar, a small nation that enjoys the economic benefits of vast petroleum reserves. The country's oil industry accounts for 85% of its exports and 70% of its national revenue.What is hello in South America? ›
It's “Ola” for hello, “Boa Dia” for a good day & “Boa Tarde” for good evening.What is South America other name? ›
The term America originally was applied only to South America, but the designation soon was applied to the entire landmass. Because Mexico and Central America share an Iberian heritage with nearly all of South America, this entire region frequently is grouped under the name Latin America.What are people born in South America called? ›
In general, "Latino" is understood as shorthand for the Spanish word latinoamericano (or the Portuguese latino-americano) and refers to (almost) anyone born in or with ancestors from Latin America and living in the U.S., including Brazilians.Who founded South America first? ›
Explorer Christopher Columbus sets foot on the American mainland for the first time, at the Paria Peninsula in present-day Venezuela. Thinking it an island, he christened it Isla Santa and claimed it for Spain.Why South America is Spanish? ›
Spanish is spoken throughout Central and South America because these are the regions colonized by Spain after Columbus discovered the New World. The colonists and conquistadors brought the Spanish language with them as they conquered the local populations and established their rule in the area.
In the Paleozoic and Early Mesozoic eras, South America and Africa were connected in a landmass called Gondwana, as part of the supercontinent Pangaea.What are 10 interesting facts about Africa? ›
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- There are 54 countries in Africa. ...
- Africa has the world's largest desert – sort of! ...
- It is home to the world's longest river, The Nile. ...
- Most of the world's diamonds come from Africa. ...
- Africa makes 70% of the world's cocoa beans.
- It is impossible for most people to lick their own elbow. ...
- A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out.
- A shrimp's heart is in its head.
- It is physically impossible for pigs to look up into the sky.
100 Facts about Italy
- Italy is slightly larger than Arizona .
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Eleven babies have been born in Antarctica, and none of them died as infants. Antarctica therefore has the lowest infant mortality rate of any continent: 0%. What's crazier is why the babies were born there in the first place. These weren't unplanned births.How old is Antarctica? ›
The icing of Antarctica began in the middle Eocene about 45.5 million years ago and escalated during the Eocene–Oligocene extinction event about 34 million years ago.Why do they call it South America? ›
South America and North America are named after Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci, who was the first European to suggest that the Americas were not part of the East Indies, but an entirely separate landmass. The portions of the landmass that lie south of the Isthmus of Panama became known as South America.What are 5 interesting facts about Europe? ›
- Europe is the second smallest continent. ...
- Europe has the world's smallest country, the Vatican City. ...
- Three Quarters of world's potatoes comes from Europe. ...
- The continent of Europe has 50 countries. ...
- The country with the biggest population in Europe is Russia.