South America is a continent located in the Western Hemisphere, south of North America and east of the Pacific Ocean. It is home to 12 independent countries, each with its unique history, culture, and geography. In this lesson, we will explore the countries of South America and their key features.
Countries of South America Here are the 12 independent countries that makeup South America, listed in alphabetical order:
The geography of South America South America has a diverse range of landscapes and environments, from the Amazon rainforest to the Andes Mountains to the Atacama Desert. Here are some key features of the continent’s geography:
The Amazon rainforest: Located in Brazil and several other countries, the Amazon rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world, home to a vast array of plant and animal species.
The Andes Mountains: Stretching along the western coast of South America, the Andes Mountains are the longest mountain range in the world, with several peaks reaching over 6,000 meters.
The Atacama Desert: Located in Chile, the Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on earth, with some areas not receiving any rainfall for decades.
The Amazon River: The Amazon River is the second-longest river in the world, running through Brazil, Peru, and several other countries, and is home to a diverse range of aquatic life.
Argentina is the second-largest country in South America, bordered by Chile to the west, Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, Brazil to the northeast, Uruguay and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Drake Passage to the south. Buenos Aires, its capital and largest city, is a major cultural and commercial hub, known for its European-inspired architecture and vibrant nightlife. Argentina is also home to the Andes mountain range, as well as the world-renowned Iguazu Falls. The country is known for its tango music and dance, as well as its beef and wine industries.
Bolivia is a landlocked country in South America, bordered by Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay to the southeast, Argentina to the south, Chile to the southwest, and Peru to the west. Its capital and largest city is La Paz, while Sucre is the official constitutional capital. Bolivia is known for its diverse geography, ranging from the high Andes mountains to the tropical Amazon Basin. The country is also home to the largest indigenous population in South America, and is known for its rich cultural heritage.
Brazil is the largest country in South America, covering almost half the continent. It is bordered by all other South American countries except for Chile and Ecuador, as well as the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The country’s capital is Brasília, but its largest city is São Paulo. Brazil is known for its tropical climate, diverse wildlife, and the Amazon rainforest, which is the largest tropical rainforest in the world. The country is also famous for its music, dance, and festivals, such as Carnival.
Chile is a long, narrow country located along the western coast of South America, stretching from the Andes mountains in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west. Its capital and largest city is Santiago, and the country is also known for its wine regions and numerous national parks, including Torres del Paine and Rapa Nui. Chile is also home to the Atacama Desert, the driest non-polar desert in the world. The country has a rich cultural heritage, with influences from its indigenous Mapuche people as well as its Spanish colonial past.
Colombia is located in the northwest region of South America, bordered by Panama to the northwest, Venezuela to the east, Brazil to the southeast, Peru and Ecuador to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Its capital and largest city is Bogotá, and the country is known for its diverse geography, including the Andes mountains, Amazon rainforest, and Caribbean and Pacific coasts. Colombia is also known for its coffee production, as well as its vibrant culture, including music, dance, and literature.
Ecuador is a country in South America, located on the equator, and bordered by Colombia to the north, Peru to the east and south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Its capital and largest city is Quito, and the country is known for its diverse geography, including the Galápagos Islands, the Andes mountains, and the Amazon rainforest. Ecuador is also known for its indigenous culture, including the Quechua and Shuar peoples, as well as its traditional crafts and textiles.
Guyana is the only English-speaking country in the region. Located on the northern coast of South America, it is known for its diverse wildlife, including the famous Kaieteur Falls, the world’s largest single-drop waterfall. Its economy is based on agriculture and mining, with sugar, rice, and gold being major exports. Guyana’s population is culturally diverse, with influences from African, Indian, European, and indigenous cultures.
Paraguay is a landlocked country bordered by Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia. It is known for its Guarani culture, which blends indigenous and Spanish influences. Paraguay’s economy is based on agriculture, with soybeans, cotton, and cattle being major exports. It is also home to the Itaipu Dam, one of the world’s largest hydroelectric power plants.
Peru is known for its rich history and diverse geography. It is home to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu and numerous other archaeological sites, as well as the Amazon Rainforest and the Andes Mountains. Peru’s economy is based on mining, agriculture, and tourism, with gold, copper, and coffee being major exports. Its population is culturally diverse, with influences from indigenous, Spanish, and African cultures.
Suriname is known for its tropical rainforests, diverse wildlife, and vibrant multicultural society. It is the smallest country in South America by population and is home to various ethnic groups, including Creoles, Hindustanis, Maroons, and Javanese. Suriname’s economy is based on mining, particularly bauxite, and agriculture, with rice and bananas being major exports.
Uruguay is known for its progressive social policies, stable democracy, and beautiful beaches. It is the smallest Spanish-speaking country in South America and is home to a relatively small population. Uruguay’s economy is based on agriculture, particularly beef and wool, and tourism.
Venezuela is known for its oil reserves, stunning natural beauty, and political unrest. It is the fifth-largest oil producer in the world and is home to the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls. Venezuela’s economy is heavily dependent on oil exports, which account for around 95% of its export earnings. Its population is culturally diverse, with influences from indigenous, African, and European cultures.