South America in a Nutshell

South America is a destination which most people shrug off their list of places to see, and tragically so. The continent hosts some of the most beautiful nature reserves in the world, the largest rainforest and river system on the entire planet, and some of the most diverse climates. The vast range of cultures leads to an interesting mix of people, foods, languages and more, and even the seasoned traveler will find themselves hard-pressed to keep amazement from entering their blood-stream.

The name “America” came from the Italian cartographer and explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who was the first European to demonstrate that Brazil and the West Indies were not the eastern side of Asia, but a different land mass entirely (that was in 1502). The term “America” is based on the Latin version of his name (Americus), and was eventually used to describe the entire New World on Garadus Mercator’s 1538 world map. Despite the controversy over the name for the previous decades (Spain believed the land should’ve been named after Christopher Columbus), America continues to be a prominent name and place in the world today.

Located in the western hemisphere, mostly in the southern hemisphere, with a small portion in the northern hemisphere. Equator runs through the north of the continent. South America may appear large, however it is the middle-sized continent on Earth—the 4th largest and 4th smallest! The entire continent spans 17.84 million square km of land. Brazil is the largest country in South America by land area, at 8,514,877 square km. 5.6% percent of the world’s population lives in South America. 209.5 million people live in Brazil, which is the 5th largest population of any country in the world.

There are 12 official countries in South America, not including Caribbean island nations off the northeastern coast. They are Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and Uruguay.

South America plays host to some of the most amazing beaches, jungles, mountain ranges, forests, nature reserves, ruins, food, wine, and culture on the planet. From the mouth-watering, award-winning Argentinean steaks which rival the best from Australia (some might even say better than!), to the hidden valley reserves of the Brazilian vineyards, the food-and-wine-conscious traveler will find their palette well cared for while traveling through South America. Likewise the history buff or the outdoor enthusiast will find themselves in practical heaven due to the sheer amount of trails to be hiked, ruins to be explored, and things to uncover.

From the coasts of Venezuela to the heart of the Amazon which spreads across several countries all at the same time, there is simply too much for one person to take in even over the course of a dozen trips. A rugged destination filled with unexplored territory, South America is the perfect destination for the adventurous traveler.

Written on 11/30/2015 - 13:34 by Shawn Blade

Last modified on 07/05/2017 - 03:27

Go Further!


Colombia is a large South American country. Sitting on the northwestern corner of the continent, the Hispanic culture has a distinct identity. Ranging from rugged mountains to beaches and jungle, the diverse country produces coffee while enjoying relaxed social attitudes, even in the face of political unrest. Colombia is a beautiful country whose people favor a balance of order and diversity.

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