Countries in South America

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South America is a continent in the Western and Southern Hemispheres, with a tiny bit extending into the Northern Hemisphere as well. The fourth-largest continent on Earth, South America has a total area of roughly 17,835,252 km2 (6,886,229 mi2), divided between 12 countries and a handful of territories, including French Guiana and the Falkland Islands. The primary languages used throughout South America are Spanish and Portuguese.

South America is home to many record-breaking natural wonders. These include the Amazon river, which is the largest river in the world by volume; the Amazon rainforest, which is the largest rainforest on Earth; and the Andes Mountains, the world's longest continental mountain range. South America also displays a very high biodiversity, including the world's most biodiverse country, and sports a huge variety of native flora and fauna, many of which can be found nowhere else on Earth.

Countries of South America

Argentina Colombia Peru
Bolivia Ecuador Suriname
Brazil Guyana Uruguay
Chile Paraguay Venezuela

Territories of South America

In addition to its 12 sovereign states, South America is home to a handful of non-sovereign territories. Of these, French Guiana is both several times larger and more populous than the other territories and also the only one located on the continental mainland.

Name Official Classification Area 2023 Population
Bouvet Island Dependency of Norway 49 km² / 19 mi² zero permanent
Falkland Island British overseas territory 12,173 km² / 4,700 mi² approx. 3,700
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Island British overseas territory 3,903 km² / 1,507 mi² zero permanent
French Guiana French overseas department and region 83,534 km² / 32,253 mi² 309,610

The dividing line between North America and South America

It is often assumed that the dividing line between the countries of North America and South America is the Panama Canal, an 82 km (51 mi) man-made waterway that cuts across the Central American country of Panama. While the canal does cut all the way across the continent, enabling seagoing vessels to cross from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and back without traveling all the way around South America, it is not the dividing line between the two continents. The true dividing line lies a few hundred kilometers to the south, where the borders of Panama and Colombia meet in a mountainous region known as the Darién Gap. As such, Central America—all of which lies entirely north of the equator—is considered part of North America.

Similarly, the Caribbean Sea, which lies between North and South America, is home to several island nations that are generally considered to be part of North America. The majority of these Caribbean countries lie on the North American continental shelf, and even the few nations that lie on the South American shelf—Aruba, Curacao, Trinidad and Tobago, and the territory Bonaire—are entirely located in the Northern Hemisphere. As such, they are widely considered part of North America despite the fact that some are positioned less than 100 miles off the coast of the South American country Venezuela.

Tourist attractions and industry in South America

South America’s largest country is Brazil, which encompasses roughly half of the continent's area and population at about 8,515,799 km2 (3,287,086 mi2) and more than 213 million people. Brazil's city Rio de Janeiro is perhaps best known as the site of Carnival, an annual pre-Lent festival billed as the biggest carnival in the world, famous for its costumes, dancing, and parades.

Just to the north of Brazil, one of South America's smaller countries, Venezuela, is the site of Angel Falls, the world's highest uninterrupted waterfall. Unfortunately, Venezuela also has the much less appealing distinction of having one of the highest crime rates in the world.

The gaps between South America's richest countries and its poorest countries is significant, and the countries vary widely in their degrees of human development, quality of life, and relative personal safety. Agriculture is an important industry in many South American countries, some of which lead the world in production of crops such as coffee, quinoa, sugarcane, oranges, chicken, and yerba mate. Mining is another major economic driver, with materials including gold, silver, copper, iron ore, and emeralds providing a significant source of income for many South American countries.

Countries in South America


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There are 12 Countries in South America.

Countries in South America