South America Countries – Everything There is to Know


South America is a continent of extremes. It is home to the world’s largest river (the Amazon) as well as the world’s driest place (the Atacama Desert). It has the world’s largest rainforest as well as the planet’s highest waterfall (Angel Falls).

Its countries are among the most biodiverse, but many species are endangered. Its people are among the world’s poorest and yet some of them are exceedingly rich. As might be expected with such extremes, South America is home to numerous conflicts, both internally and externally.

About South America Countries

A view of a city with a mountain in the background

South America is the world’s fourth-largest continent, encompassing nearly one-fifth of the earth’s total land area. The continent extends from the Gulf of Darién in the northwest to Tierra del Fuego in the southeast and incorporates such islands as Tierra del Fuego (Argentina) and the Galápagos.

Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian navigator who was the first European to believe that the Americas were not part of Asia, is credited with naming South America after he discovered it in 1497. The area south of the Panama Isthmus became known as South America.

More Details about South America and its countries

A group of people in a field with a mountain in the background

Today, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), Chile (formerly known as Peru), Peru (formerly known as Bolivia), Paraguay are all countries in South America.

South America is a continent that covers more than 7,000 miles and has a dozen sovereign nations.

Despite their wealth and long history of stability, Latin American nations face significant challenges in the current century. Environmental changes, continuing inequality, and growing violence push millions of people throughout the region to live in a state of constant anxiety.

The environment is the most obvious example of a rupture that we face. Because of global climate change, mineral depletion, and general environmental deterioration, our planet’s rules are changing faster than we can keep up with, with consequences that go beyond our comprehension. Results may be as catastrophic as flooded cities or as unimportant as increased air travel turbulence.

Highly populated areas of the globe will become hazardous to live, and the resources on which modern life depends will grow scarcer and more costly.

Conflicts may grow increasingly fueled by scarcity, and our capacity to collaborate across borders may be restricted by a desire to seek comfort within one’s group. As we approach various tipping points, the issue isn’t any longer whether or how to stop climate change; it’s about how to adapt to changed norms and constraints.

Historic Culture

South American civilizations have historically been connected to distinct ecological regions. Early development took place on the Pacific coast, where fishing and trading communities thrived; the Amazon basin’s major rivers, with a wealth of water, flora, and animals; and the Andes Mountains, where mountains provided safety.

The Incan Empire is the most well-known indigenous culture in South America. Cuzco, Peru, became the capital of the Inca Empire in 1438. During a century and a half, the empire expanded to incorporate parts of present-day Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia.

To communicate throughout this vast region, the Inca built an expansive network of roads. This network was made up of two main north-south roads, one running along the Pacific coast and another through the Andes. Many east-west roads connected the two.

The Inca erected fortifications, inns, food storage facilities, and signal towers along this impressive “foot route.” These locations, as well as the roads that connected them, aided the Inca in dominating most of the western part of the continent.

The importation of African slaves signaled a crucial change in South America’s cultural landscape. The majority of slaves were brought to Brazil. Their distinctive cultural customs were combined with indigenous Indian beliefs and European rituals.

The natural environment also shaped the development of South American indigenous cultures. In the Pampas, for example, a distinct gaucho (or “cowboy”) culture emerged. Gauchos hunted wild horses and cattle that roamed freely across the vast grasslands in the mid-18th century.

They subsequently sold their pelts and tallow—waxy fat used in the production of candles and soaps—at a hefty premium to European merchants.

Political Geography

Internal and external connections between governments and citizens are the subject of political geography. South America’s political geography has had a significant impact on its history and development.

In 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte turned his attention to Portugal. He sent over an army and demanded that the Portuguese crown be transferred to him. In retaliation for this demand, a popular revolt broke out in Lisbon on December 1 of that year. Members of the aristocracy and military participated in the uprising against French forces.

The early political geography of South America was shaped by the European colonization of the continent. In 1494, the Treaty of Tordesillas established Spain and Portugal’s exclusive rights to colonize all territory outside of Europe.

The Treaty of Tordesillas was a peace treaty between Portugal and Spain that established a border demarcation. The line of demarcation gave Spain all land to the west, while Brazil was given to Portugal. The majority of South America was colonized by Spain, whereas today’s Brazil was colonized by Portugal.

Spanish and Portuguese were largely dominant on the continent as a result of Catholic missionaries’ educational efforts. They also established writing systems for indigenous oral traditions such as Quechua, Nahuatl, and Guarani.

The mestizo class was formed when European colonists married native populations. Mestizos are a mix of indigenous and European ancestry. Many South American countries have large mestizo populations, including Paraguay (95 percent), Ecuador (65 percent), and Colombia (58 percent).

Contemporary Challenges

Today, South America’s political geography is defined by a desire to reduce the foreign influence. The nationalization and privatization of industry, as well as indigenous peoples’ impact on politics, are the main political issues affecting South America.

The term “nationalization” refers to a form of ownership in which the state rather than private businesses owns an industry. To stimulate economic growth, several South American countries have nationalized industries, including electricity and oil production.

Chile began to run its copper mines in 1971. Chilean copper mines were formerly controlled by multinational corporations. Today, CODELCO, the National Copper Corporation of Chile, is the world’s major copper producer, with sales of $16 billion in 2010.

The movement toward nationalization began with the Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who is credited with establishing it. The “Hydrocarbons Law” passed by Chávez in 2002 nationalized all oil production and distribution activities.

Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, has nationalized its oil and natural gas industries. The Bolivian president also bought water distribution rights in La Paz from a private French firm.

Other heads of state, such as Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, have threatened to nationalize sectors if foreign firms do not respect the rights of the nations they are doing business in.

Future Challenges

The future of South America will be determined by its people’s ability to live in cities. Latin America is the most urbanized developing region on the planet.

It is the only developing area with more poor people in cities than rural areas. Job uncertainty, lower pay, and a reduction in social services such as electricity and water are causing individuals and families to suffer.

The unique biomes of South America are also being destroyed by development and industrialization. Every second, the Amazon rain forest is being burned. Forests are cleared for agriculture purposes, with the rain forest plains then converted to farms, ranches, and towns.

This is resulting in an increased amount of air and water pollution in the Amazon River basin and elsewhere.

As more money goes into the continent’s cities, rural regions will suffer. In rural areas, low-income individuals are affected by geographic isolation and underinvestment in education, health care, and housing. Indigenous people living in isolated mountain regions of Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador are some of South America’s poorest communities.

The most recent period of climate change, which is often called global warming, is primarily about carbon emissions. Carbon emissions are perhaps the most essential aspect of reducing global warming, and some South American nations have committed to do so as part of the Paris Climate Agreement or Paris Agreement.

With that in mind, the EPA’s decision to roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards is a huge blow for environmentalists. The oil-rich nations of Venezuela and Ecuador, on the other hand, have said they will not participate in the Paris Agreement.

In reality, Chávez and his supporters were among the most vociferous opponents of international climate pacts like the one reached in Paris. They maintain that the agreement was made by a handful of powerful countries.

According to them, developed countries such as the United States and the European Union have already established their industries and infrastructure in the 20th century without regard for carbon emissions.

They claim that agreements restricting emissions from developing nations are unjust. These underdeveloped nations would be required to face greater challenges as a result of these agreements.

Summary

In this article, we’ve covered a lot of information about the life and culture in South America. We hope that you can use our blog to inform your decision on whether or not you want to visit. If you are considering going there for vacation, work, or any other reason, may this guide be of use to you.

To be most successful with this trip, it may also be helpful if you think about how people from each country live their lives differently as well as what landscapes they have access to. All in all, we hope that after reading this blog post, you now feel more knowledgeable about South American countries and cultures.

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