Real travelers love South America. It’s as though the continent was built for travel; a place that excites, thrills, challenges and infuriates. South America is a sub-continent crossed by the equator, with most of its area in the Southern Hemisphere. South America ranks fourth in area and in population, after Eurasia, Africa, and North America. From the 1530s, the indigenous inhabitants of South America were invaded by European conquistadors, first from Portugal, later from Spain, who divided it into colonies. In the course of the 19th century, these colonies won their independence.
The real reward, however, is the South American spirit. It seems like the entire continent approaches life with the enthusiasm of an old-fashioned road trip: windows down and stereo blaring. There is as much music as there are adventures to be had. Samba spices up the sandy streets of Brazilian beach towns, panpipes liven Andean markets, Argentine folklórica (folk music) trickles out of truck radios in the pampas, and the jolting rhythm of cumbia makes those Andean bus rides even more absurd. South America is a continent that engulfs you and changes you – your state of mind, your outlook on life. As soon as you step foot on South American soil, the transformation begins.Sweat yourself dizzy on an Amazon canoe ride before ending the day caiman-watching on a black-water lagoon. Brave a white-knuckle bus ride down Peruvian slopes and be astounded by endless Andean vistas. Endure Patagonia’s wind-driven rain while chasing life-affirming sunsets or simply lose yourself (and possibly your belongings) in the break-neck chaos of Buenos Aires or Salvador.
The continent of South America contains incredibly dynamic and diverse culture and terrain. From the snow-capped Andes to the Amazon Rain Forest, active volcanoes, and alpine forests, travelers seeking adventure will have a once in a lifetime experience. The diverse culture ranges from Indigenous peoples that still farm on the rural highlands like their Incan ancestors to major international metropolises. Listed below are some of the top highlights of South America, including two of the most exciting cities, Argentina's European-influenced Buenos Aires, the beautiful and lively Rio, and the majestic Iguazu Falls.
The Amazon Rainforest in South America encompasses 1.2 billion acres (7 million km²), with parts located within nine nations: Brazil (with 60% of the rainforest), Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. This forest represents over half of the planet's remaining rainforests. States or departments in four nations bear the name Amazonas for the Amazon. This region is home to 2.5 million insect species, tens of thousands of plants, and some 2000 birds and mammals. The diversity of plant species is the highest on earth with some experts estimating that one square kilometer may contain over 75,000 types of trees and 150,000 species of higher plants. One square kilometer of Amazon rainforest can contain about 90,000 tons of living plants. This constitutes the largest collection of living plants and animal species in the world.
South America is home to many interesting species of animals including parrots, tarantulas, snakes, and mammals. There are not many large predators in South America, but the Jaguar is one of the strongest predators in the world. Unlike the African leopard, which looks very much like a jaguar, the jaguar does not have to carry its food into a tree, because there are no other animals in South America that would challenge a jaguar. There are three animals found mainly in South America that look very different from each other, but are closely related. These are the sloth, the anteater and the armadillo. One of the most famous animals that lives in the Amazon river is the piranha fish. They are known for their sharp teeth and an aggressive appetite for meat and flesh. The largest snake in the world, the Anaconda, lives in the rivers and dense forests of South America. Brightly colored poisonous frogs live inside the forests. The camel-like Llama is another important animal that lives in South America.
Below are the countries, provinces, territories and states in South America