The South America reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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South America

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South America

South America is a continent crossed by the equator, with most of its area in the Southern Hemisphere. South America is situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. It became attached to North America only recently, geologically speaking, with the formation of the Isthmus of Panama. The Andes, likewise a comparatively young and seismically restless mountain range, run down the western edge of the continent; the land to the east of the Andes is largely tropical rain forest, the vast Amazon River basin.

Physical map of South AmericaEnlarge

Physical map of South America

South America ranks fourth in area, after Asia, Africa, and North America. In population, it ranks fifth, after Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America.

It is thought to have been first inhabited by humans crossing the Bering Land Bridge, now the Bering strait, though there are also suggestions of migration from the southern Pacific Ocean.

From the 1530s, the indigenous inhabitants of South America were subjugated by European invaders, first from Spain, later from Portugal, who divided it into colonies. In the course of the 19th century, these colonies won their independence. Nowadays, South America consists of the following twelve countries

and the following three non-independent territories:

The region of South America also includes various islands, most of which belong to countries on the continent. The Caribbean territories are grouped with North America. The largest country by far, in both area and population, is Brazil. Regions in South America include the Andean States, Guyana Highlands and Eastern South America.

List of countries/dependencies by population density (in inhabitants/kmò)

Satellite image of South AmericaEnlarge

Satellite image of South America

Unlike the figures in the country articles, the figures in this table are based on areas including inland water bodies (lakes, reservoirs, rivers) and may therefore be lower here.

country pop. dens. area population
  (/kmò) (kmò) (2002-07-01 est.)
Ecuador 47 283,560 13,447,494
Colombia 36 1,138,910 41,008,227
Venezuela 27 912,050 24,287,670
Peru 22 1,285,220 27,949,639
Brazil 21 8,511,965 176,029,560
Chile 20 756,950 15,498,930
Uruguay 19 176,220 3,386,575
Paraguay 14 406,750 5,884,491
Argentina 14 2,766,890 37,812,817
Bolivia 7.7 1,098,580 8,445,134
Guyana 3.2 214,970 698,209
Suriname 2.7 163,270 436,494
French Guiana (Fr.) 2.0 91,000 182,333
Falkland Islands (UK) 0.24 12,173 2,967

(Not included in the table are South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands which have no permanent inhabitants, only temporary visitors to research stations.)


  Continents of the World
Asia | Africa | North America | South America | Antarctica | Europe | Australia
(The Pacific Islands in Oceania are not part of any continent)