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Information about countries in South America

Ranked the fourth largest continent, South America is stretched across the Western and Southern Hemisphere with a small territory in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent comprises twelve states— Brazil being the biggest by population and area while Suriname being the smallest. 

Due to its geographical location, bordering the Caribbean, South American countries have temperate climates and are world-renowned for their beaches. Additionally, the continent is famous for its diverse natural habitat and its largest wetlands.  

Quick Facts About South America 

Here are some interesting facts about South America:

Area

17,840,000 km²
Number of countries 12
Biggest country (by area) Brazil

Population (2021)

438.5 million

Most populated country Brazil
Number of languages spoken Over 400 languages across the continent 
Largest peninsula 

La Guajira Peninsula

Highest mountain 

Mount Aconcagua in Argentina

Longest river

The Amazon River

How Many Countries Are There in South America?

There are 12 independent countries located in South America:

CountryCapitalArea (km²)Population (2021)
ArgentinaBuenos Aires2,766,89045,605,826
BoliviaLa Paz, Sucre1,098,58011,832,940
BrazilBrasi­lia8,514,877213,993,437
ChileSantiago756,95019,212,361
ColombiaBogota1,141,74851,265,844
EcuadorQuito283,56017,888,475
GuyanaGeorgetown214,999790,326
ParaguayAsuncion406,7507,219,638
PeruLima1,285,22033,359,418
SurinameParamaribo163,270591,800
UruguayMontevideo176,2203,485,151
VenezuelaCaracas916,44528,704,954

Map of South American Countries  

Languages Spoken in South America

The languages listed below are the most spoken in the South American continent:

LanguageRegionNumber of Speakers
SpanishColombia210 million
Argentina
Venezuela
Peru
Chile
Ecuador
Bolivia
Paraguay
Uruguay
PortugueseBrazil206 million
Venezuela
Paraguay
Uruguay
QuechuaPeru6 million
Bolivia
Ecuador
Chile
Colombia
EnglishArgentina5.4 million
Colombia
Guyana
GermanBrazil2 million
Argentina
Ecuador
Paraguay
ItalianArgentina1.5 million
Brazil
ArabicArgentina1.1 million
Venezuela
Suriname
ChineseArgentina535,000
Peru
Suriname
Ecuador
Guyana
UkrainianBrazil527,000
Argentina
WayuunaikiColombiaOver 300,000
Venezuela

Best Countries to Visit in South America

Some of the most visited countries in South America include: 

  • Argentina. In 2019, this South American country received over 7 million visitors. The country attracts many tourists due to its famous capital, Buenos Aires, and the visitors enjoy seeing its landmark, Christ the Redemer. Also, tourists can always find something fun to do while in Buenos Aires— the birthplace of tango. 
  • Brazil. Right after Argentina, in 2019, Brazil was the most visited with 6.4 million visitors. The most popular destinations include the Amazon Rainforest and the beaches in Rio de Janeiro. Plus, Brazil has well-developed paleontological tourism allowing foreign visitors to explore ages 200 million years ago. 
  • Chile. With over 4 million visitors only in 2019, Chile is one of the most popular tourist destinations globally. Visitors enjoy exploring the driest place on Earth— the Atacama desert. In addition to this, popular cities in Chile include Valparaiso and its capital Santiago. 
  • Peru. This South American country is home to Machu Pichu and sees at least 3 million visitors per year. In Peru, tourists have the opportunity to explore one of the oldest architectural structures in the region, hike up to Humantay Lake, and picnic in the lush Sacred Valley. 
  • Colombia. In recent years Colombia has become a highlight of South American exploration. Because it stretches to the Caribbean coastline, visitors can enjoy some of the best beaches in the country and visit the old city of Cartagena. Moreover, the country is home to two deserts, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore unique biodiversity. 

Famous Tourist Destinations in South America 

South America has plenty to offer to tourists while some of the most visited places include the following: 

  • Machu Picchu. Located in Peru, Machu Picchu is an architectural marvel. Archaeologists still don’t know the purpose of Machu Picchu, but it’s one of the most preserved sites of the Inca empire. Interestingly enough, the site wasn’t discovered by experts until the 19 century, even though locals about the structure. Today, tourists are free to visit and explore the complex. 
  • La Mano de Punta del Este. “La Mano,” or the “Hand,” is a sculpture located in Punta del Este, Uruguay.  The sculpture was built in 1982 in the middle of the beach, and it depicts a human hand emerging from the sand, appearing as if drowning— a symbol of warning against swimmers in the dangerous waves of La Barra. The artist managed to complete the entire sculpture within six days, and now it’s a famous landmark of Uruguay and highly popular with tourists. 
  • Pantanal. Stretched in Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay, Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland area. The territory is also home to a vast ecosystem of flora and fauna. Visitors can go on tours to explore the wildlife there and see some of the rarest plants and animals in the world. 
  • Tayrona National Park. The Tayrona National Park is a 150 km² area of natural wonder. Famous for ecotourism, visitors can explore this Colombia gem, see some of the most beautiful beaches in South America, camp, or hike around the area. It’s the perfect place for group visits as there is something for everyone to do. 
  • The Atacama Desert. Stargazing from the Atacama desert in Chile— where you can see the Milky Way— is one of those opportunities that come by once in a lifetime. The desert is also home to several lagoons and valleys such as the Death Valley, the Valley of the Moon, and the Laguna Verde, the latter being a unique green body of water due to its high salt content. Moreover, the desert is home to rich wildlife, including pink flamingos and Humboldt penguins. 
  • The Amazon Rainforest. Located in Brazil and extended to several other South American countries, the Amazon is the largest rainforest on Earth and home to the longest river in the world. The area is teeming with various lifeforms, animals, and plants; its lush vegetation and many river crossings are mesmerizing for visitors. Tourists can also participate in several events, such as the Jungle Marathon, an ultra footrace in the rainforest.

How To Get a Visa to Visit South America?

To get a visa for South America, you have to apply for a specific entry permit for the country you want to visit— the visa requirements are different based on your South American destination country: 

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