Geography - South America

South America

*population is over 370,000,000 people*continent takes up about 6,880,000 square miles (about 12% of world's land area-fourth largest continent*the Andes is the world's longest mountain range-extends 4,500 miles - all the way down the western coast of the continent*main languages are Spanish and Portuguese*predominant religion is Roman Catholic

Caribbean South America

*five countries make up the northern territories1) Guyana2) Suriname3) French Guiana4) Venezuela5) Colombia

The Guianas

*this includes Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana*all are tropical areas along the Atlantic Ocean*human geography differences make each country unique*mostly African or Asian descent*English, Dutch, and French are the spoken languages*Mulattoes are also large parts of the population-people of mixed African and other ancestry*economies are very similar in the Guianas*fish, sugar cane, and bauxite mining are important


*large nation west of Guiana*mostly mestizos-mixed Spanish and Indian-speak Spanish*most people live in fertile mountain valleys*poor people live in ranchos-small shacks*the Guiana Highlands cover about half of Venezuela*Angel Falls is located in this region*the llanos is important for grazing-tropical grassland*oil deposits have made Venezuela very wealthy


*second most populous country in South America*borders the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean*most people live in valleys between three cordilleras-parallel mountain ranges*Colombia is most famous for coffee*illegal crops are also grown in Colombia-marijuana and cocaine are illegally exported*very unstable socially in Colombia

Pacific South America

*four countries make up the Andean countries1) Ecuador2) Peru3) Bolivia4) Chile*found in the Andes Mountains-this is the longest unbroken mountain chain in the world*3 environments are created by the mountains1) Coastal Plain-includes the Atacama Desert2) Highlands-plateaus are called altiplane or paramos3) Tropical Forests-very few people live in the area called selva (meaning forest)


*gets its name from the equator*most of the people are mestizos*population is divided between coasts and mountains*oil is leading export


*home of the ancient Inca Empire*most people are of Inca descent*poverty and unemployment are widespread*many Asians have immigrated to Peru recently


*one of two landlocked countries in South America*Lake Titicaca is found in Bolivia-this is the world's highest lake (about 12,500 feet above sea level)


*about 2700 miles long; only 100 miles wide*most people are mestizos*75% of population live in the Central Valley

Atlantic South America

*four nations make up Atlantic South America1) Uruguay2) Paraguay3) Argentina4) Brazil*the Rio de la Plata is the largest river in the region-this river is called an estuary because the river current meets ocean tides*the highest parts of the Andes are here*temperate grasslands are called Pampas-the pampas were home to many gauchos (equivalent to America's cowboys)*oil and bauxite found in the Patagonia Region


*one of two landlocked countries in South America*Rio de la Plata gives Paraguay access to the sea*most of the people are mestizos*economy is based on agriculture


*economy based on livestock raising*3/4 of the land is devoted to livestock*politically unstable area


*South America's wealthiest country*most people are of European descent*led by military dictators until 1983


*is the largest country in South America*almost half of South America's land and population are in Brazil*plains and plateaus make up Brazil-coastal and Amazon areas are plains-inland areas are mostly plateaus*an escarpment seperates the plateau from the plain-a steep cliff between two level areas at different heights

Northern Brazil

*bulges out into the Atlantic Ocean*very poor region (life expectancy = 49)*former Portugal colony*popular region for sugar plantations

Southern Brazil

*smallest region in Brazil*economic heartland of Brazil*contains almost half of the population*great climate leads to productive farms*biggest and most important crop is coffee*Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are the largest cities-both have large slum communities called favelas

Amazon River Basin

*tropical rain forest area*populated mostly by Indians*Indian population has dropped from disease

Economic Growth of Brazil

*much of Brazil faces poverty*most of the poor live in favelas or the Northeast-children make up most of the poor*many small farmers live in the sertao-sparsely populated wilderness/"backwoods" type area*poor climate and soil limit potential

Policies for Growth

*Brazil government has adopted programs for two reasons1) Boost the growth of industry2) Encourage inland settlement/development*the government built dams along the escarpment*manufacturing areas grew rapidly on the coasts*government began to focus on the interior*capital, Brasilia, was built in the 1950s-Brasilia is shaped like a bow and arrow

Positive Effects

*Brazil is among the world leaders in industrial productivity*Gasahol allowed Brazil to limit importing oil-mix of gasoline and ethanol*less people involved in agriculture*more jobs in manufacturing and service industry

Negative Effects

*poverty has continued to increase*erosion of former rain forest areas is a problem