Great deals with TravelAgent.ie Book Now!
South America Cruises.
Royal Caribbean Cruises.
South America is a place of extremes – from steamy beaches and rainforests to Brazil's unique Cabo Frio, featuring seawater currents from the South Pole. From the passionate dances in the tango parlours of Buenos Aires, to the quiet, glittering golden churches that line the streets. What unites them all is a great love of beauty and you... hopefully.
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east by the Atlantic Ocean; North America and the Caribbean Sea lie to the northwest. It includes twelve independent countries—Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela—and French Guiana, which is an overseas region of France. The South American countries that border the Caribbean Sea—Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana—are also known as Caribbean South America.
South America has an area of 17,840,000 square kilometers (6,890,000 sq mi). Its population as of 2005 has been estimated at more than 371,090,000. South America ranks fourth in area (after Asia, Africa, and North America) and fifth in population (after Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America). The word America was coined in 1507 by cartographers Martin Waldseemüller and Matthias Ringmann, after Amerigo Vespucci, who was the first European to suggest that the lands newly discovered by Europeans were not India, but a New World unknown to Europeans.
South America occupies the southern portion of the landmass referred to as the Western Hemisphere. The continent is generally delimited on the northwest by the Darién watershed along the Colombia–Panama border, or (according to some sources) by the Panama Canal which transects the Isthmus of Panama. Geopolitically and geographically all of Panama – including the segment east of the Panama Canal in the isthmus – is typically included in North America alone and among the countries of Central America. Almost all of mainland South America sits on the South American Plate. South America's triangular shape gives it the shortest coastline, for its size, of any of the continents.
Traditionally South America also includes some nearby islands. Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Trinidad, Tobago, and the federal dependencies of Venezuela sit on the northerly South American continental shelf and are often considered part of the continent. Geopolitically, the island states and overseas territories of the Caribbean are generally grouped as a part or subregion of North America, since they are more distant on the Caribbean Plate, even though San Andreas and Providencia are politically part of Colombia and Aves Island is controlled by Venezuela. Other islands that are included with South America are the Galápagos islands that belong to Ecuador and Easter Island (in Oceania but belongs to Chile), Robinson Crusoe Island, Chiloé are also Chilean islands, while Tierra del Fuego is split between that country and Argentina. In the Atlantic Brazil owns Fernando de Noronha, Trindade and Martim Vaz, and the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago.
South America is home to the world's highest waterfall, Angel Falls in Venezuela; the largest river (by volume), the Amazon River; the longest mountain range, the Andes (whose highest mountain is Aconcagua at 6,962 m [22,841 ft]); the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert; the largest rainforest, the Amazon Rainforest; the highest capital city, La Paz, Bolivia; the highest commercially navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca; and, excluding research stations in Antarctica, the world's southernmost permanently inhabited community, Puerto Toro, Chile.
South America's major mineral resources are gold, silver, copper, iron ore, tin, and petroleum. These resources found in South America have brought high income to its countries especially in times of war or of rapid economic growth by industrialized countries elsewhere. However, the concentration in producing one major export commodity often has hindered the development of diversified economies. The fluctuation in the price of commodities in the international markets has led historically to major highs and lows in the economies of South American states, often causing extreme political instability. This is leading to efforts to diversify production to drive away from staying as economies dedicated to one major export.
South America is one of the most biodiverse continents on earth. South America is home to many interesting and unique species of animals including the llama, anaconda, piranha, jaguar, vicuña, and tapir. The Amazon rainforests possess high biodiversity, containing a major proportion of the Earth's species.
By far Brazil is the largest country in South America, encompassing around half of the continent's land area and population. The remaining countries and territories are divided among three regions: The Andean States, the Guianas and the Southern Cone.