The world's fourth largest continent, South America, boasts some of the most spectacular sights, diverse landscapes and unforgiving terrains in all existence. If you fancy a trip of a lifetime, this part of Latin America is one corner of the world you'll definitely want to travel to! From the Amazon River which navigates its way horizontally through Brazil, Colombia and Peru to the Andes mountains traversing the landmass from north to south, South America is where you will find an array of the world's biggest and best natural creations. Apart from hosting the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile, South America is likewise home to the world's largest and most extraordinary salt pan known as Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia; the largest rainforest recognized as the Amazonian Rainforest in Brazil as well as proudly featuring the highest known waterfall - the divine Angel Falls of Venezuela. Rare animal species, fauna and the unmatched glimmering coastlines of the continent are just a couple more reasons why you should choose to visit South America - a land unique in so many ways.
Located in the western hemisphere where it occupies the southern region of the America's continent which also includes North America and Central America, South America consists of twelve notable countries any of which are wonderful destinations to explore and they are - Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela in addition to two non-sovereign territories known as the Falkland Islands and French Guiana. With the Pacific Ocean to its west and the Atlantic Ocean to the north and east, South America's climate is highly variable. Lying mainly in the tropics and given the size of the continent, each country tends to experience individual types of weather conditions so it's important to find out the type of weather to expect before you head off. The climate generally ranges from heavy rainfall and humid in some areas to dry in others. The coldest areas of the continent, however, are experienced in the mountainous zones, for example in the Andes Mountains where snowfall is highly typical.
Each one of South America's countries possesses exceptional treasures which attract millions of tourists eager to embark on an unforgettable adventure. Some of the most iconic symbols of the continent include an assortment of UNESCO World Heritage Sites from national parks, to historical city centres, religious monuments and historical ruins and findings from ancient civilizations. Some of the most celebrated sites include Iguaçu National Park of both Brazil and Argentina hosting the impressive Iguaza Falls; Los Glacieres and Cueva de las Manos of Argentina; Canaima National Park in Venezuela; Brazil's capital city, Brasília; plus dozens more. Two UNESCO sites in particular also make up the list of the New7Wonders of the World beginning with the magical Machu Picchu (AD 1450) in Peru also known as the "Lost City of the Incas" and the inspiring statue of Christ the Redeemer (1931) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Other noteworthy attractions that will not disappoint include the golden Copacabana beach in Brazil; the colourful La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina; the interesting Gold Museum of Bolivia; the ruins of Saksaywaman in Cusco, Peru; the artistic masterpieces at one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, La Recoleta Cemetary in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and the exquisite Bolivar Square in Bogotá, Colombia. This, of course, is to name only but a few of the most captivating attractions in South America.
South America is an eclectic mix of civilizations which is seldom found in any other part of the globe. In fact, it is one of the few places to still contain uncontacted indigenous tribes living in the densest of forests. The total population of South America surpasses 300 million people originating from four main groups – American Indians (Amerindians), Iberians (Spanish and Portuguese who first conquered the continent), Africans (imported as slaves during the colonization period) and post-independence immigrants from countries like Lebanon, Italy, Germany, Asia and Japan. Therefore, expect to encounter a person from almost any part of the world during your journey. Spanish and Portuguese are the two most spoken languages on the continent although more than half of all the countries have Spanish as their official language meaning you might want to brush up on your español before travelling.
Given the broad mix of people and its rich history of colonialism, South America is hugely diverse ethnically, racially and culturally. It is a land where traditions intertwine with one another meaning there is even more for you to uncover. Music is one of the most varied aspects of South American culture. The most recognised genres include samba and bossa nova from Brazil, the tango from Argentina and Uruguay, the vallenato and cumbia from Colombia, and the pasillo from Ecuador. Another varied aspect of South American culture is cuisine where African, American Indian, Asian and European influences are highly visible throughout flavours and the types of foodstuffs used. Annual cultural events and celebrations are great times to be in the continent. Many times, events are religiously based as almost 80% of South Americans are Roman Catholic. These events often remember important saints as well as celebrating ancient Inca beliefs still important today. The biggest event of the year, however, is Carnival time where the world's most recognised celebration takes place in Brazil – a street party believed to be the party of all parties and guess what, you are invited!
South America is a fascinating all round experience and one that will leave an everlasting impression. From its people, to its natural sites and fascinating constructions which exemplify both the strength and ambition of its ancestors, South America is an extraordinary destination. Fit for all kinds of getaways from romantic honeymoons to wild adventures which will have you face to face with nature's most dangerous locations and conditions - South America literally has it all!