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South America

Physical Geography

World Atlas Overview
South America, the planet's 4th largest continent, includes (12) independent countries and (3) major territories; the Falkland Islands, Galapagos Islands and French Guiana.

The continent contains the world's highest waterfall, Angel Falls in Venezuela; the largest river (by volume), the Amazon River; the longest mountain range, the Andes, and the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert in Chile.

In addition, it includes 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.


Major Languages: Portuguese, Spanish, English, Dutch, French, Italian, Arabic, and dozens of indigenous languages
Population: 379,500,000 (2009 est)

Top 5 Largest Cities:
Sao Paulo, Brazil: 18,505,100
Buenos Aires, Argentina: 12,923,800
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 11,246,600
Bogota, Colombia: 7,798,000
Lima, Peru: 7,603,500

Largest Countries:
Brazil: 193,891,867
Colombia: 45,656,990
Argentina: 40,085,130
Peru: 29,368,000
Venezuela: 29,132,000

South America Political Map

Major Landforms

Amazon Basin:
The Amazon Basin (Amazonia) is covered by the largest tropical rain forest in the world, and running through its heart is the Amazon River and its more than 1,000 tributaries, seven of them more than 1,000 miles in length. Measurable rain falls on an average of 200 days a year here, and total rainfall often approaches 100 inches per year.

The basin drains over 2,700,000 sq. miles, and covers about one-third of South America. Rising high in the Andes, the river's network irrigates almost half of the continent, and in terms of volume of water discharged into an ocean... it's the largest in the world.

Andes Mountains:
This toothy-edged mountain system, some 4,500 miles (7,240 km) in length, extends from the southern tip of South America all the way to Panama.

It's the source of most major rivers on the continent, and its many ranges include dozens of peaks that reach over 20,000 ft; the highest point being Aconcagua in Argentina, at 22,384 ft. (6,960m). It's also home to some of the planet's largest volcanoes, and in the far south along the coast of Chile, large glaciers and ice sheets are commonplace.

Atacama Desert: The Driest Place on Earth!
Sparsely populated and positioned high into the Andes of Chile, this somewhat small desert (or plateau) is a cold place, and one of the few deserts on Earth that doesn't receive any rain. It's approximately 100 miles wide and 625 miles long. The landscape is totally barren and covered with small borax lakes, lava flow remnants and saline deposits.

Brazilian Highlands:
This magnificent landscape of southeastern Brazil is 800 miles in length and contains varied mountain ranges, namely the Serra de Mantiquiera, Serra do Paranapiataba, Serra Geral, and Serra do Mar. The estimated highest point is 7,368 ft (2,245m).

Cape Horn:
The southernmost tip of South America, remains a maritime legend to this day, as sailing around this remote point and through its violent stretch of chaotic water is one of the most challenging nautical routes on the planet.

Guina Highlands:
Over 1,000 miles in length, the Highlands stretch from southern Venezuela to the northern border of Brazil. It's a vast plateau, one marked by deep gorges, tropical rain forests, numerous rivers and waterfalls. It's famed for the highest waterfall in the world (Angel Falls) at 3,212 ft (979m) high. The highest point is Mt. Roraima on the borders of Brazil, Guyana and Venezuela at 9,219 ft (2,810m).

This large and very fertile plain, located in eastern and central Colombia, and central and southern Venezuela, is drained by the Orinoco River and its many tributaries. It's approximately 225,000 sq. miles (582,000 sq. km) in size.

Famed for its many cattle ranches, this large plain in the southern part of the continent (in central Argentina) extends for almost 1,000 miles (1,600 km), and covers 294,000 sq. miles (761,460 sq km).

Located between the Andes and the Atlantic Ocean, and about 1,000 miles in length, Patagonia stretches south from the Rio Negro River to Tierra del Fuego and the Strait of Magellan. It's mostly rugged, barren land, famed for its beauty and striking mountain scenery.

Video: Physical Geography

Bodies of Water

Human Geography


Inca Game




Brazil Argentina Chile

How to Memorize the Countries (Missing Galapagos and Falkland Islands)

South America
We have three simple steps to learn the names and locations South America

There are 12 countries plus 1 French territory.

Lets’ start with the 3 most easy to identify countries.

Brazil, Argentina and Chile)

The Biggest country is Brazil (B for Biggest B for Brazil)

Next we will look at Argentina. Imagine a guy named Arnie taking his girlfriend Tina (Argentina) on a date to eat some chili.

Biggest – Brazil

Argentina – Arnie and Tina

Chile – Chili

Excellent! We’ve got 3 down, just 10 more to go.

There are 5 northern countries (including the French Guiana the territory)

These are easily remembered when you think of the mnemonic

“Cool Vegetable Guy Studies French”

Cool – Columbia

Vegetable- Venezuela
Guy – Guyana

Studies – Suriname

French – French Guiana

So just 5 more left and you have South America done!

The next five are in the middle of the country beginning left to right remember that in South America

Easy way to remember these 5 are:

Every person boils purple unicorns!

Every -- Ecuador
Person -- Peru

Boils -- Bolivia

Purple -- Paraguay

Unicorns -- Uruguay

So you have learned 13 areas of South America.

Now you need to practice drawing the countries and the continent of South America.

Remember practice makes perfect!