The southerly half of the new world has 13 countries, nine of which are united by the Spanish language. Outliers are Portuguese-speaking Brazil – accounting for the continent’s largest population and area – English-speaking Guyana, French-speaking French Guiana and Dutch-speaking Suriname. Because of Brazil’s size, half of all South Americans speak Portuguese. Minorities speak indigenous languages (Aymará, Quechua, Guaraní and Mapudungun) and those of immigrants from abroad.
From tropical rainforests in Columbia and Brazil to Patagonian glaciers in Chile and Argentina, the landscape changes dramatically from north to south. In the middle it’s more temperate, which makes for excellent winemaking (hello Malbec). Peru boasts highest navigable lake in the world (Titicaca), Bolivia the biggest salt flat (Uyuni), and Brazil and Argentina the largest waterfall (Iguazu). South America also has the planet’s longest continental mountain range (Andes) and largest river (Amazon). Clearly, this is a continent of natural wonders. It’s also known for archeology, sensuality (think tango) and vibrancy.
South America has many islands, the best known of which are the mysterious Easter Island (Chile), reptilian Galapagos Islands (Ecuador), and British-owned sea life sanctuaries of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.