Facts on South America

Facts on South America cover a huge sprawling continent that truly encompasses all that this world has to offer in terms of geographical variety. From the Caribbean coast down to the very edge of Antarctica, and the misty Pacific ocean across the Andes, all the way down to the Amazon rainforest to the Atlantic...anyone travelling in this region is truly blessed with the complete package.

This is an introduction to some facts on South America but is by no means encyclopaedic but feel free to add comments at the bottom of the page to let us know your thoughts and any interesting facts that you might have.

1. Size and Scale

Facts on South America has to start with an attempt to give you an idea of the real scale of the continent. It is the 4th largest on the globe and covers a rough area of 17, 850, 000 sq km...and is home to nearly 400,000,000 people. Anyone planning to see this continent will do well to keep the size in mind when creating itineraries - a simple bus trip can take over 20 hours, which is enough time to go halfway across Europe.

2. Countries

By looking at the facts on South America page you are clearly interested in visiting the continent, and there are 12 countries in South America and 1 overseas territory called French Guiana. The countries, in alphabetical order, are: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Some of these countries have more of a tourism industry and much better infrastructure making the lives for us travellers much easier, which is why there is a clear focus on our site.

3. Languages

The vast majority of South Americans speak Spanish. In fact, Facts on South America can confirm that Spanish is the primary language for 9 of the 12 countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela) making Spanish lessons a very good idea for visitors.

Brazil's primary language is Portuguese, Suriname's is Dutch, Guyana's is English and there is no prize for guessing which language is spoken in French Guiana...it is French by the way. That being said, there is a good chance that anyone you speak to in Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana speak Spanish so I would still recommend lessons.

Facts on South America is just providing the basics, but for the more cultural linguists among us, there are also a huge number of indigenous languages spoken on the continent, but it is worth checking out each country page for more information on that.

4. A Continent of Record Breakers

Facts on South America are proud to announce a series of World Records for the continent. It has the world's highest waterfall (Venezuela's Angel Falls), the world's driest place (Chile's Atacama Desert) and the world's largest salt lake (Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni) to name but a few. if you manage to visit all of these on your trip then you are doing very well.

5. Money

Each country in South America has a different currency with which to familiarise yourself. The recommendation from Facts on South America is that it is always keeping a quantity of US dollars with you in the case of an emergency. The US dollar is the easiest currency to exchange on the continent and it is especially helpful in Venezuela where you can change it on the black market for exchange rates that are almost twice as good as you would get from the official banks.

Here is a list of the South America currencies:
Argentina uses the Argentina Peso
Bolivia uses the Bolibian Boliviano
Brazil uses the Brazilian Real
Chile uses the Chilean Peso
Colombia uses the Colombian Peso
Ecuador uses the US dollar
Guyana uses the Guyanese dollar
Paraguay uses the Paraguayan Guarani
Peru uses the Peruvian Nuevo Sol
Suriname uses the Surinamese dollar
Uruguay uses the Uruguayan Peso
Venezuela uses the Venezuelan Bolivar Fuerte

6. Sporting Centre of the World

Facts on South America would not be complete without a mention of the upcoming sporting events in South America. Brazil is hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2014 with venues as diverse as the historic, monumental Maracana Stadium in Rio to the brand new Vivaldo Lima stadium in the heart of the Amazon, Manaus.

Rio de Janeiro is also home to the 2016 Olympics. Having hosted them in London 2012, we are sure that the carnival spirit of Rio will provide an incredible backdrop to a truly amazing global celebration of sport and fair play.