List of Country and Territory Capitals in South America
Below are each country’s capital and some brief information about each one.
Argentina - Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina. It is one of South America’s most important ports and most populous cities with a population of about 2.9 million. Its formal name is the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, as the city became an autonomous district in 1994. Because it has been a major recipient of millions of immigrants from all over the world, Buenos Aires is known as one of the most diverse cities in the Americas and has been called a “melting pot.”
Bolivia – Sucre
Sucre, the constitutional capital of Bolivia, is the sixth-most populated city in Bolivia. The capital sits 9,153 feet (2,790) meters above sea level. Once a part of the judicial and military territory of the Viceroyalty of Peru, the city became the capital of Bolivia in 1839 and was renamed after the liberator Antonio José de Sucre. The city still has many of its Spanish colonial architecture and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991.
Brazil - Brasília
Brasília was inaugurated as the federal capital of Brazil in 1960. The capital is Brazil’s fourth-most populous city with over 4.6 million people and has South America’s highest GDP per capita. Known for its modernist architecture and unique urban planning, Brasília was named as a UNESCO World Heritage site and was named “City of Design” by UNESCO in 2017. Brasília is home to all three of Brazil’s branches of government: executive, legislative, and judiciary; as well as 124 foreign embassies.
Chile – Santiago
Santiago is Chile’s capital and largest city, as well as one of the largest cities in the Americas. Santiago’s population is over 6.7 million people. The Chilean executive and judiciary branches of government are located in Santiago; however, Congress meets in Valparaíso nearby. Santiago is considered the cultural, political, and financial center of Chile. Santiago also contains the country’s greatest concentration of industry, including foodstuffs, textiles, clothing, shoes, and copper mining.
Colombia – Bogotá
Bogotá’s official name is Bogotá, Distrito Capital, or Bogotá D.C. Bogotá has about 7.4 million people and sit at an elevation of 8,660 feet (2,640 meters) above sea level. Bogotá is home to the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch of Colombia. The city is known for its economic strength and financial maturity, as well as its attractiveness for global companies. Bogotá is also home to many universities and is an important cultural center.
Ecuador – Quito
Quito, formally San Francisco de Quito, is Ecuador’s capital and largest city. Quito sits at an elevation of 9,350 feet (2,850 meters) and has a population of about 1.87 million people. Quito is also the headquarters of the Union of South American Nations. Quito was one of the first UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites, along with Krakow, Poland, declared in 1978. Its historical center is one of the largest and best-preserved in the Americas.
Guyana – Georgetown
Georgetown is the capital of Guyana and the country’s largest urban center. With a population of 355,000, Georgetown is the only city with a population of more than 50,000 people. The city serves primarily as a retail and administrative center, as well as a financial services center. Georgetown is home to all executive departments, the Parliament Building, and the Court of Appeals. Additionally, the capital is Guyana’s main economic base, containing most of its commerce.
Paraguay - Asunción
Paraguay’s capital city of Asunción is also the country’s largest city with a population of about 540,000 people. As the oldest city in South America, Asunción is known as “the Mother of Cities.” Asunción is home to Paraguay’s national government and principal port. It is also the country’s chief industrial and cultural center.
Peru – Lima
Lima is both the capital and the largest city in Peru with a population of over 9 million people. Lima is home to the National University of San Marcos, one of the oldest higher learning institutions in the New World established in 1551. Lima is considered to be Peru’s political, cultural, financial, and commercial center. The city is home to the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Peruvian government and has its own government that functions as a regional government rather than a municipal government.
Suriname – Paramaribo
Paramaribo is the capital of Suriname and the country’s largest city. Paramaribo has a population of over 241,000 people, almost half of Suriname’s population. The inner city of Paramaribo was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002. Paramaribo is also the country’s business and financial center, even though the city does not produce significant goods itself, as Suriname’s main exports (gold, rice, oil, tropical wood) are channeled through the capital’s institutions.
Uruguay – Montevideo
Montevideo is a principal city and the capital of Uruguay. The port of Montevideo is the center of Uruguay’s foreign trade. The city handles much of the processing and packaging of the country’s main exports of wool and meat. Montevideo is home to the administrative headquarters of Latin America’s leading trade blocs, Mercosur and ALADI, comparing Montevideo’s position to the role of Brussels in Europe.
Venezuela – Caracas
Caracas, named officially as Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital of Venezuela and the country’s largest city. Caracas has a population of over 2.9 million people. Caracas has a largely service-based economy and is considered to be one of the most important economic, industrial, cultural, and tourist centers of Latin America. Unfortunately, Caracas has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world of 120 homicides per 100,000.