South America Facts

Our South America Facts for Kids bring you lots of interesting and fun facts on the South American continent.

South America map outline

South America is the fourth largest continent in size and the fifth largest when we consider population.

The South American continent is located in the western hemisphere and mainly in the southern hemisphere.

Top 20 South America Facts 

1. There are 12 countries in South America (see list on the right) and 3 dependencies with a total of more than 433 million people living on the continent.

Click on the flags to learn more about the 12 South American countries:

2. Largest Country: Brazil. The country is covering more than half the continent's landmass. Did you know that Brazil is huge and only slightly smaller than the USA?

3. Largest City: São Paolo in Brazil has about 23 million inhabitants and is one of the ten biggest cities in the world. In 2024, Sao Paolo is the fourth most populous city the world.

4. Smallest Country: Suriname. The country, formerly referred to as Dutch Guiana, is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Suriname only gained independence from the Netherlands in 1975.

5. Longest River: The Amazon River (6,437 km/ 4,000 miles). The Amazon is not only the second longest river in the world after the Nile, but also the Amazon carries more water than the world's other 10 biggest rivers combined! Read our Amazon Rainforest Facts here.

6. Biggest Island: Tierra del Fuego (Spanish meaning: Land of Fire), at the southern tip of Argentina and Chile

Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South AmericaAconcagua

7. Highest Mountain: Aconcagua in Argentina. This high mountain (6,961 m/ 22,837 ft) is located in the Andes mountain range. The Aconcagua is considered the second highest of the world's 'Seven Summits' - after Mount Everest which is in Asia.

8. Biggest Lake: Lake Titicaca (shared by Bolivia and Peru). This freshwater lake is often referred to as the "Birthplace of the Incas". Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world at about 3,800 m/ 12,467 ft above sea level.

Atacama Desert by Anton Ivanov/Shutterstock.comAtacama Desert

9. Driest Place: While South America's rain forests also are some of the wettest places on the earth, the Atacama desert in Chile is considered the driest place on earth. Read more about the world's deserts here.

10. There are two landlocked countries in South America: Paraguay and Bolivia are located in the interior of the continent and have neither access to the Atlantic Ocean nor to the Pacific Ocean.

bolivia landlocked
paraguay landlocked

More South America Facts

11. History: Evidence of human life in South America dates back to 10,000 BC. One of the earliest South American civilisations are recorded in Peru. South America was colonised from the late 15th century by foreign conquistadores (explorers) who came mainly from Spain and Portugal, but also from the Netherlands, Britain and France.

indigenous people in chile with pan fluteIndigenous People in Chile

12. People of South America: The Incas were the largest group of indigenous people in South America when the Europeans arrived in the 15th century. The Incan Empire lasted from 1438 until 1533. Indigenous cultures still are present in South America but the numbers of indigenous people are diminishing. There are still Arawak and Carib people living in Venezuela as well as Guarani people in Brazil.

Did you know that almost half of the population of the South American continent lives in Brazil?

south america language map

13. Languages in South America: Spanish is the main language in the South American countries. Only in Brazil people speak Portuguese and in Surinam, formerly a Dutch colony, the official language is still Dutch. Many people speak English as a second language. Quechua, the language once spoken by the Inca people, is the most common indigenous language.

14. Religion: Most of the South American people are Catholics (90%), there are some Protestants, Jews and some indigenous people still have their indigenous beliefs.

15. Tourist attractions in South America: The most popular attractions and landmarks in South America are:

landmarks peru machu picchuMacchu Picchu in Peru
argentina_iguazuIguazu Falls in Argentina/ Brazil
angel falls 500Angel Falls in Venezuela
brazil rio aerialMount Corcovado with Statue and Sugar Loaf Mountain in Brazil
amazon ecuadorAmazon Rainforest in Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador
brazil pantanalPantanal Tropical Wetlands in Bolivia and Brazil
rio de janeiro sugarloaf mountainTorres del Paine National Park in Chile
galapagos sealsGalapagos islands of Ecuador
lake titicacaLake Titicaca in Bolivia

16. Biggest Cities: The five most populous cities in South America in 2024 are São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Bogotá and Lima.

saopauloSão Paolo

São Paulo in Brazil with 23 million inhabitants is the most populous city in South America and a cultural melting pot

buenosairesBuenos Aires

Buenos Aires in Argentina with 15 million inhabitants is known for its architecture and of course tango

riodejaneiro 600Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro in Brazil with 13 million inhabitants is also famous for the Copacabana and Ipanema beach 

bogota 600Bogotá

Bogotá in Colombia with 12 million inhabitants is the country's capital city and home to ancient gold treasures

peru limaLima

Lima in Peru with 11 million inhabitants is often referred to as gateway to the ancient Inca site of Machu Picchu

Did you know? The southernmost city in the world is located on the South American continent! The city is called Ushuaia and is located on the Argentinian part of the Tierra del Fuego. More than 55,000 people live in Ushuaia. Read more about Argentina here.

argentina ushuaia Ushuaia in Argentina

17. Animals: In South America there are tapirs, piranhas and anacondas and many other animals. 

jaguar in pantanalJaguar in the Pantanal region of the Amazon Basin

South America is also home to many endangered animals such as the jaguar, the giant otter or the Amazonian manatee. Read about the Amazon Rainforest and the animals living there, on our page here or find out more about animals in Brazil or Chile.

animals in brazil
animals in chile mix

18. Main natural resources in South America are minerals such as iron ore (which is used to make steel) or copper and agricultural produce such as corn, coffee, wheat, soybean and cocoa.

19. Nature superlatives

  • Atacama desert is the driest place in South America
  • Angel Falls are the world's highest waterfalls 
  • Amazon River Basin is the world's largest river basin
  • The Andes are the world's longest mountain range
  • The Pantanal is the world's largest tropical wetlands

20. South America's landscape is dominated from mountains and highlands such as the Andes, river basins such as the Amazon and the Orinoco and coastal plains which the Atacama Desert also belongs to.

Countries in South America that are located in the Northern Hemisphere:

  • Venezuela
  • Guyana
  • Suriname
  • French Guiana
  • and (the northern regions of) Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil

Test your Knowledge

South America quiz for kids by kids world travel guide

Popular Pages

Useful Resources for South America Facts

  • Central Intelligence Agency. "South America." WorldFactBook. Last accessed 23 February 2024
  • National Geographic. "South America Guide - Latest Stories" NatGeo. Last accessed 23 February 2024
  • National Geographic. "World Atlas for Young Explorers". Washington: 2010. pages 86-92
  • Millennium. "Earth Condensed - The World Atlas." Millennium House. 2009

Image Credits on South America Facts page: and wikipedia commons

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South America Quiz

South America Quiz

Landmarks in South America

landmarks in south america

South America Facts

For more detailed maps click on the map above.

The Countries in South America
according to size 

Dependencies in South America

  1. French Guiana (France)
  2. Falkland Islands (Britain, but Argentina still claim it)
  3. South Sandwich and South Georgia Islands (Britain)

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