There are so many fun facts about South America! And in this post I share with you my favourite 35 facts. Are you ready for some South American travel inspiration? Then read on!
- Fun Facts About South America
- 1. South America Ranks 4th in Area
- 2. South America Ranks 5th in Population
- 3. There Are 12 Countries in South America
- 4. South America and Africa Used To Be Connected
- 5. South America Has the Largest Tropical Rainforest
- 6. Spanish Is the Most Common Language in South America
- 7. Paraguay and Bolivia Have No Shores
- 8. Brazil Is the Biggest Country in South America
- 9. Suriname Is the Smallest Country in South America
- 10. Sao Paulo Is the Largest City in South America
- 11. Uruguay Is the Safest Country in South America
- 12. South America Has the Second Largest River in the World
- 13. South America Has the Driest Place on Earth
- 14. The Incas Were Living in South America When the Europeans Arrived
- 15. Darwin’s Theory Started in South America
- 16. Catholic Christianity Is the Predominant Religion in South America
- 17. South America Has the Southernmost City in the World
- 18. South America Is Home to Many Endangered Animals
- 19. Aconcagua Is the Highest Mountain in South America
- 20. Potatoes Originated in South America
- 21. Lake Titicaca Is the Biggest Lake in South America
- 22. South America Has the World’s Largest Coffee Producer
- 23. South America Has Hot and Humid Weather
- 24. South America Has the World’s Highest Capital City
- 25. South America Has the World’s Largest Salt Flat
- 26. Paraguay Doesn’t Have Doorbells
- 27. Sloths Are Native to South America
- 28. There Is a River Underneath the Amazon River
- 29. South America Has the World’s Biggest Carnival Celebrations
- 30. Venezuela Is Named After the Italian Venice
- 31. Pablo Escobar Was South American
- 32. Coca Leaves Are Legal in Many South American Countries
- 33. Corn Is a Staple of Latin American Cuisine
- 34. There Are Indigenous Tribes With Limited Contact with the World
- 35. South America Has the World’s Most Biodiverse Place
- Further Reading – Facts About South America
Fun Facts About South America
South America is worth exploring if you have an eye for cultural diversity, enjoying the best natural hotspots, and wild celebrations! There is endless fun to be had in South America!
Lets explore the most interesting facts about this continent…
1. South America Ranks 4th in Area
Let’s start with some geography-related fun facts about South America.
South America is the fourth largest continent in the world. It covers over 17.84 sq million square kilometres.
The continent has 12 countries, and of the lot, Brazil is the biggest nation. Also, the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon, nicknamed the lungs of the earth, is in the South American continent.
2. South America Ranks 5th in Population
South America ranks behind Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America in terms of population.
Brazil is the most populated nation in this continent with 215.8 million as per the recent census in January 2023. This is at least half of the entire continent’s population stats. Other populous countries in this continent are Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, and Peru.
3. There Are 12 Countries in South America
With diverse terrains, the South American continent accommodates 12 countries and Brazil is the largest.
The 12 nations are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Besides, South America has three dependencies namely the Falkland Islands, French Guiana, South Georgia, and the South Sandwich Islands.
4. South America and Africa Used To Be Connected
If you love geology, these fun facts about South America are for you!
Over 200-300 million years ago, all the continents in the present world were glued together as a supercontinent called Pangea. Later, a fissure expanded and caused the breakage along Africa, South America, and North America.
Before further breakages happened, Africa and South America were together under the name – Gondwana.
5. South America Has the Largest Tropical Rainforest
Being a nature lover, this is one of my favourite fun facts about South America!
Being one of the most diverse continents in terms of landscapes, South America has the largest tropical rainforest called the Amazon. It has the highest density of plants and animals in the globe and the forests cover at least eight South American countries!
6. Spanish Is the Most Common Language in South America
Here are some language-related fun facts about South America.
Spanish is spoken by at least 210 million South Americans out of which 47.2 million people are Colombians. Due to the colonisation by Spain after the discovery of this continent by Columbus, the language continues to be widely spoken to date.
7. Paraguay and Bolivia Have No Shores
At least one-fifth of the world’s countries are landlocked without any access to oceans or shores. This includes two nations in South America namely Paraguay and Bolivia.
Due to the War of the Pacific, Bolivia lost its shoreline to Chile. Surprisingly, despite being landlocked, both nations have a working Navy force!
8. Brazil Is the Biggest Country in South America
Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and is the biggest in South America. It shares borders with every South American nation except Chile and Ecuador. With a rich diversity in flora and fauna, the country takes pride in having varied landscapes of which dense forests are the most popular.
9. Suriname Is the Smallest Country in South America
Covering 163,820 square kilometres, Suriname is the smallest nation in South America. It is naturally rich in resources, particularly bauxite. Its population has an upper-middle income. The current population is 623,569 as of July 2023. It has a coastline along the Atlantic and borders with Brazil and Guyana.
Also, you’ll find that Aruba, near South America, is smaller but keep in mind that it’s part of the Netherlands.
10. Sao Paulo Is the Largest City in South America
Sau Paulo in Brazil is the most populous city in South America with a population of 12 million. It is also the world’s seventh-largest city in terms of population. Being the economic powerhouse of Brazil, it has an ethnically mixed population.
11. Uruguay Is the Safest Country in South America
Ranked 46 out of the 163 countries in the global peace index, Uruguay lies between Brazil and Argentina.
With high standards of living, less corruption, and a lack of violent crimes, the peace criteria are high in the entire South America for this country. Also, a stable democracy and citizen-friendly social policies do not require the citizens to get basic necessities through crimes!
12. South America Has the Second Largest River in the World
Here are some Amazon-related fun facts about South America.
The Amazon River takes the second largest river position in the world and is the largest in the South American continent.
13. South America Has the Driest Place on Earth
With annual rainfall averaging 0.03 inches, the Atacama desert is the driest place in the world and is in South America. Located in Arica, Chile, a few parts of this desert have never had rainfall to date.
14. The Incas Were Living in South America When the Europeans Arrived
The Inca empire sustained from 1438 to 1533 and was later defeated by the Spanish due to internal unrest, substandard battle tactics, and diseases!
Unfortunately, after the defeat, the Incans were subjected to slavery and mined their own metals for the benefit of the Europeans.
15. Darwin’s Theory Started in South America
We all have studied Darwin’s evolution theory! But, these fun facts about South America are a little surprising.
Having found fossils of extinct animals in South America, Darwin related the findings of similar fossils in the Galapagos islands, which were all formed about volcanic eruptions at different times throughout history. This struck him as an idea that species can evolve according to time and environment.
16. Catholic Christianity Is the Predominant Religion in South America
Here are some fscin fun facts about South America and its religions.
Roman Catholicism is predominantly followed in South America. At least 58.7% of the Latin American population is catholic.
Peru, Paraguay, and Colombia have more than three-quarters of their population following this religion. This is due to European and Spanish colonization in the 1500s.
Further, many catholic missionaries that helped the invasion are a vital factor in this dominance.
17. South America Has the Southernmost City in the World
This is one of the interesting fun facts about South America
Puerto Williams has taken over the title of being the southernmost city in the world from Ushuaia in Argentina! After a status upgrade from being a hamlet to a city, Puerto Williams now has the honour.
A bilateral agreement between Argentina and Chile resulted in this change. The population of this place has now crossed over 3000 even though it was previously only a naval base for the Chilean army.
18. South America Is Home to Many Endangered Animals
Environmental changes have created several endangered species in the South American continent.
Of them, the most important are Galapagos Giant Tortoise, Golden lion tamarin, Waved albatross, Orinoco crocodile, Panamanian golden frog, Lemur leaf frog, black-headed spider monkey, mountain viscacha, Magdalena river turtle, and more are critically endangered as per the IUCN list.
19. Aconcagua Is the Highest Mountain in South America
Bordering Chile, Aconcagua is a mountain range in Argentina, South America. Also, it holds the highest peak in the western hemisphere and reaches more than 22,000 feet high. Further, it is the second-highest peak in the world only after the Himalayas.
20. Potatoes Originated in South America
Do you love adding potatoes to almost everything? Well, read these fun facts about South America.
History has it that potatoes were first grown in today’s northern Peru and northwestern Bolivia around 8000 and 5000 BCE.
Nearly 5000 varieties are recorded by Peru’s International Potato Centre. The Incas Indians were the first known people to cultivate this popular vegetable.
21. Lake Titicaca Is the Biggest Lake in South America
Dating back to million years, Lake Titicaca lies 3810 above sea level and is a freshwater lake.
You can find the lake running between Peru in the west and Bolivia in the east. You can spot various water birds along this river. It takes a crucial position as one of the 20 ancient lakes in the world.
22. South America Has the World’s Largest Coffee Producer
I got some fun facts about South America for big coffee lovers!
Taking the number one slot in terms of coffee production is Brazil with an annual production of 2.68 million metric tonnes a year.
The climate here is most suitable for arabica and robusta beans. Over 300,000 coffee farms can be seen in the Brazilian landscapes.
23. South America Has Hot and Humid Weather
With the world’s largest rainforest in South America, you can find a hot and humid climate year-round with an abundance of rain in Brazil and Columbia. The temperature in these regions can reach as high as 40℃.
24. South America Has the World’s Highest Capital City
The world’s highest national capital, La Paz, is in Bolivia at least 42 miles south-east of Lake Titicaca. Situated at a height between 10,650 and 13,250 meters, La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia in South America.
25. South America Has the World’s Largest Salt Flat
If you’re planning to visit Bolivia in South America, these fun facts about South America are for you.
Prehistoric lakes that evaporated many years ago have left a salt flatbed for over 4,050 square miles. This scenic site is present at Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia.
Further, present at 3,660 ft above sea level, the salt flat changes during the rainy and summer seasons and gives an extraterrestrial beauty.
26. Paraguay Doesn’t Have Doorbells
Imagine a polite way of showing your presence at people’s houses in Paraguay. Yes, houses here do not have doorbells. Instead, they clap their hands for a few seconds loudly. Must be loud enough to gain the attention of people sitting at the far end of the house!
27. Sloths Are Native to South America
If sloths are your spirit animal, you need to know these fun facts about South America.
Sloths are indigenous to tropical rainforests. South America having the largest in this regard is the dwelling place for these tree canopied animals.
Also, the sloths spend most of their time sleeping and on average, their hibernation period is around 15 to 20 hours in a day.
28. There Is a River Underneath the Amazon River
Rio Hamza is the new river found in the Amazon basin by Brazilian scientists. Found at a depth of 4 kilometres is estimated to be as long as the Amazon River but is significantly wider than its surface counterpart.
29. South America Has the World’s Biggest Carnival Celebrations
Rio De Janeiro is home to Rio Carnival now touted to be the world’s biggest carnival celebration.
Millions flock to the country during the days before Easter and at least two million people take part in the celebrations every single day!
30. Venezuela Is Named After the Italian Venice
This is certainly one of the surprising fun facts about South America!
Little Venice in Italian means Venezuela, thus the name. Discovered by the Europeans in 1499, the name follows the resemblance of seeing stilt houses on Lake Maracaibo like in Venice.
31. Pablo Escobar Was South American
If you’re into reading about criminals, you’ll enjoy these fun facts about South America.
Pablo Escobar was a leading drug baron in South America and is of Colombian descent.
Head of the Medellin Drug Cartel, he is famously known as the King of Cocaine. He started his life in crime when he was just a teenager. His life and ways of drug trafficking are still a matter of study for many.
32. Coca Leaves Are Legal in Many South American Countries
Coca alias Cocaine is legal in South American countries except Brazil and Paraguay. Peru and Bolivia focus on using these leaves for medicinal benefits.
33. Corn Is a Staple of Latin American Cuisine
Let’s talk about some food-related fun facts about South America.
Apart from numerous savoury dishes, Latin Americans use corn in several beverages, sweets, and desserts. It is a staple ingredient in making masa, a dough used for making tortillas, arepas, and tamales.
34. There Are Indigenous Tribes With Limited Contact with the World
At least 100 isolated tribes are in Amazon rainforests. The Awa, indigenous people of Brazil, have a population of 350 where more than 100 have no contact whatsoever with the outside world.
35. South America Has the World’s Most Biodiverse Place
Here’s another one of my favourite fun facts about South America.
The Amazon rainforest is home to around 30% of the entire world’s species. Many of the millions of species are still undescribed. Owing to the canopy structure, the plants, trees, animals, and other species have a hospitable environment.
Further Reading – Facts About South America
Isn’t South America an exciting continent to know about? I hope that this article kept you hooked and you ended up getting more curious about these fun facts about South America.
If you want to know more about the countries in South America, you can check out the other posts on my website.