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25 Interesting Facts about South America

25 Interesting Facts about South America

Want to know more about South America? Here are 25 Interesting Facts about South America that you probably didn’t know before reading this!

To make this even more fun, I want to challenge you as well. How many of these South America facts did you know before reading this? Share your result in the comment section!

1. There are 12 countries in South America

These are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

In addition to these sovereign states, there are also 3 dependent territories, which are the Falkland Islands (UK), French Guiana (France) South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (UK)

2. Some indigenous tribes have no contact with modern civilization

In the global world, we’ve come to know it might be hard to imagine that there are still some indigenous tribes out there in the world which have had little or no contact at all with modern civilization. 

Some of these indigenous tribes have been discovered in the past years, deep into the Amazon rainforest. But scientists believe that there are more tribes out there which are hiding even further inside the forest. 

This is definitely one of the most interesting facts about South America!

Native tribes

Photo: Shutterstock

3. More than 300 languages are spoken on the continent

English, Spanish and Portuguese are the most common languages, but there are still some indigenous languages spoken among a large number of people, such as Quechua (8,9 million speakers), Guarani (4,9 million speakers), and Aymara (2,8 million speakers). 

In addition to those, linguists estimate that there are more than 300 languages spoken on a daily basis on the continent. 

4. The Amazon Rainforest is the world’s most biodiverse place

Even though the Amazon rainforest suffer from illegal deforestation as well as legal deforestation, and illegal pet trade, it is still home to more than 40% of the world’s plants and animals. It is incredibly biodiverse, and that’s why it needs to be protected. 

Amazon rainforest

Photo: Shutterstock

5. It used to be connected to Africa

About 550 million years ago, it is believed that the South American continent was puzzled together with Africa, Australia, and Antartica as well as the Indian subcontinent and Arabian peninsula, which formed the supercontinent known as Gondwana. 

It broke apart 180 million years ago, and the continents as we know them today were created. 

6. La Paz is the highest capital in the world

The Bolivian capital has an elevation of 3,640 meters (11,942 ft) which makes it one of the highest cities in the world and the highest capital in the world. Many visitors who fly into La Paz will need some days to adjust to the higher elevation. 

La Paz

Photo: Shutterstock

7. Home to the driest place on Earth

The Atamaca Desert is considered as the driest place on Earth, and some parts of it have never received any rain since recordings started. It’s incredibly dry, and some recent parts that received rain hadn’t had precipitation for more than 40 years. 

Atacama desert

Photo: Shutterstock

8. Brazil is the largest country in South America

Brazil covers about 47,3% of the continent and is the largest country both by population and land area. Brazil is home to more than 210 million people, and it’s also one of the largest countries in the world.

9. Suriname is the smallest country in South America

On the other side of the scale, Suriname holds the title as the smallest country in South America, and it is also one of the least densely populated countries in the world. 

Suriname has around 568,000 inhabitants and a land area of 163,821 km2 (63,252 sq mi).

10. Aconcagua is the continent’s tallest mountain

The tallest mountain outside of Asia, and also the tallest mountain in South America is known as Aconcagua and stands majestically at 6962 meters above the sea in Argentina. 

Aconcagua

Photo: Shutterstock

11. Home to the tallest waterfall in the world

The continent is also where you can find the tallest waterfall in the world, the Angel falls in Venezuela, which has a staggering height of 979 meters!

12. There have been many great civilizations living here

The Inca people might be the most famous civilization, and their empire spanned across large parts of South America. But others such as Chavin, Paracas and the Nazca civilizations have for example created the mysterious Nazca lines in Peru. 

The oldest known advanced civilization dates back to 3000-2500 BC, and are known as Caral Supe, which were based in Central Peru. Another famous empire is the Tiwanaku empire who flourished on the shores of Lake Titicaca. 

Still today, many of the ancient sites remain, where Machu Picchu might be the most famous site. 

Machu Picchu

Photo: Shutterstock

13. Christianity is the main religion

About 90% of the South American population consider themselves to be Christians, and over 80% are Roman Catholics. 

14. There are many natural resources in South America

Gold, Silver, Iron, and Petroleum are just some of the valuable resources that can be found on the continent. Even though Europeans looted the continent of gold, there are still huge amounts left. 

Inca gold

Photo: steve estvanik / Shutterstock.com

15. More than 20% of the total amount of oxygen is produced here

About 22% of the continent are forests, and they are full of life. The Amazon rainforest is the largest rainforest, but there are other rainforests and cloud forests as well.

They are very important for oxygen production for humans worldwide, and it is estimated that 20% of all the planet’s oxygen is created in these forests.

5 x Fun Facts about South America

  • Brazilians are the most frequent internet users on the continent
  • It was named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci
  • South Americans are famous for their beauty 
  • Maria and Gabriel are the most common names in South America
  • The guinea pig is a delicacy in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru
South American facts

Photo: Shutterstock

5 x South America Facts for Kids

  • More than 40% of the world’s plants and animal species can be found here
  • Some of the most famous football players are South Americans
  • The Itaipu Dam in Paraguay is the world’s second-largest hydroelectric facility
  • Home to dance styles such as Tango, Caporales, and Samba
  • Evidence of human life in South America dates back to 9000 B.C
South America facts for kids

Photo: Shutterstock

General Facts about South America

Below are some general info such as total population, land area, biggest lake, highest mountain and other general facts about South America that might be interesting to know.

  • Total Population: 428 million people
  • Largest city: Sao Paulo (Brazil)
  • Life expectancy: 72 (males) 79 (females)
  • Highest Mountain: Aconcagua (6962 meters above the sea)
  • Land area: 17,840,000 square kilometers (6,890,000 square miles)
  • Largest Lake: Lake Titicaca
  • Longest River: Amazon River
  • Religion: Christianity (90%)
  • Time zonesUTC – 5, UTC – 4, UTC – 4:30, UTC – 3 and UTC– 2

The Biggest Cities in South America

If you’re looking for facts about South America, it might also be interesting to know which are the biggest cities.

Sao Paulo Santiago
Buenos Aires Belo Horizonte
Rio de Janeiro Brasilia
Bogota Fortaleza
Lima Recife

Map of South America

Below is a map of all the South American countries and their land borders. 

South America Facts

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How many of these South America Facts did you know beforehand? Share your result in the comment section below!

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Lauren Brown

Wednesday 18th of March 2020

Alex Waltner,

Thank you for your educational, super interesting blogs. They are wonderful, and I always look forward to reading them.

Lauren Brown