The fourth largest of the earth’s seven continents – South America – occupies an area of 17,840,000 square kilometers. It is divided into twelve independent countries along with three main territories. The following discussion contains information about the five largest countries in South America.
Brazil (Area: 8,515,767 sq. km)
Brazil is the continent’s largest country. Spanning across an area of 8,515,767 square kilometers, it ranks fifth among the world’s largest countries both in terms of area as well as population. Brazil also enjoys the distinction of being the largest country of the Portuguese speaking world. This large country is home to a population of 202,768,562 people.
- The country’s official name is Federative Republic of Brazil.
- Brazil became a free state after declaring independence in 1822. The country had been a Portuguese colony until then.
- All South American countries, except Chile and Ecuador, are bordered with Brazil.
- The country’s coastline extends for up to 7,491 kilometers.
- The largest city in the country is Sao Paulo which occupies an area of 7,943.8 square kilometers.
- Brazil houses sixty percent of the Amazon rainforest.
- This large country is spread across three different time zones.
- After the US, Brazil is the second country in the world with the largest number of airports – over two thousand!
- She is famous for producing car fuel from sugar cane. Almost ninety-five percent of all new vehicles run on this environment-friendly fuel, known as ethanol.
- The country is home to the world’s largest population of Catholics who make up sixty four percent of Brazil’s total population.
- Brasilia, the capital of the country, appears in the shape of an airplane from aerial view.
- Brazil is home to the world’s largest community of Japanese outside Japan.
- An underground river, which lies 4 kilometers underneath the Amazon, runs through Brazil. It runs for around 6,000 kilometer and is hundreds of times greater in width than the Amazon River.
- A tribe in Brazil, known as the Bororo People, makes up one of the rarest groups of individuals in the world who share the same blood group, O.
- The most famous cities of the country are Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Argentina (Area: 2,780,400 sq. km)
Second among the largest countries in South America is Argentina. It occupies an area of 2,780,400 square kilometers and stands as the world’s eighth largest country. It is situated in the southeastern part of the continent sharing its land border with five South American countries while the South Atlantic Ocean forms border to its east.
- The official name of the country is the Argentine Republic.
- The name of the country comes from a Latin word – argentenum – which means silver. Therefore, the meaning of Argentina is the “Land of Silver”.
- Buenos Aires, one of the most popular tourist destinations of the continent, is the country’s capital city.
- The country is home to more than thirty national parks.
- Argentina ranked among the top ten wealthiest nations of the world in 1913. Today, it occupies the 54th place.
- Ninety-seven percent of the country’s inhabitants belong to European ethnicity while the minorities include Asians, Mesitzos and Amerindians.
- Significant cities of Argentina include Rosario, San Miguel de Tucuman, Cordoba, Mendoza and Buenos Aires.
- The world famous football player, Messi, belongs to the town of Lionel in Argentina.
- Most of the dinosaur fossils discovered during the last decade were found in Argentina.
- The country boasts of a diverse and interesting landscape including some of the most popular tourist attractions such as the Iguazu Falls and the Perito Moreno Glacier.
Peru (Area: 1,285,216 sq. km)
Located in the western part of South America, Peru is the third largest country on the continent. It covers an area of 1,285,216 square kilometers which gives it the twentieth place on the list of the largest countries of the world. The northern border of the country is shared by Colombia and Ecuador while Brazil, Bolivia and Chile lie to its east, southeast and south respectively.
- The country is officially called the Republic of Peru.
- The country’s population is 31,151,643. More than a quarter of this population lives in the capital city – Lima.
- The second largest portion of the Amazon rainforest lies in Peru and occupies sixty percent of the country’s total land.
- The country has been home to several ancient civilizations including the Incas who built the wealthiest and largest empire in the region and ruled for a hundred years.
- Although a poor country, Peru is one of the world’s biggest producers of precious natural resources including gold, copper, iron, silver and lead. Oil and natural gas reserves are also found in the country.
- Next to China, Peru boasts of having the second largest catch of fish in the world.
- The world famous ancient city, the Machu Picchu is found in Peru which serves as one of the top tourists attractions in the continent.
- The country ranks 8th among the world’s top ten largest coffee producing countries.
- The world’s highest sand dune – Cerro Blanco – is situated in the Sechura Desert in Peru.
- The popular vegetable, potato, emerged from Peru. Today, more than 3,000 different potato varieties are grown in the country.
Colombia (Area: 1,141,748 sq. km)
Occupying an area of 1,141,748 square kilometers, Colombia is South America’s fourth largest country and ranks 26th in the world in terms of size. It is located in the northwest of the continent and shares its land border with five countries.
- The official name of the country is the Republic of Colombia.
- Names of the five countries which border Colombia are: Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru.
- It is the continent’s only country with a coastline on the Pacific Ocean as well as the Caribbean Sea.
- Among the capital cities of all the South American countries, Colombia’s capital – Bogota – is the second largest in terms of area. Situated at a height of 2,640 meters, it also ranks among the world’s highest capital cities.
- The country is counted among the world’s top sources of the precious gemstone, emerald.
- Owing to its location near the equator, the country experiences only one season: summer.
- The country has produced some of the most popular celebrities including Shakira, Danna Garcia and Sofia Vergara.
- The country falls in the region known as the Ring of Fire – a portion of land on the Pacific Ocean which is prone to frequent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
- The country is home to the largest diversity of bird species.
- Being home to a large diversity of wildlife, Colombia is counted among the seventeen largest “megadiverse” regions of the earth.
Bolivia (Area: 1,098,581 sq. km)
Standing at the fifth place among the largest countries in South America is Bolivia. It is a landlocked country sharing its border with five countries. Located in the western-central part of the continent, Bolivia occupies an area of 1,098,581 square kilometers.
- The country is officially known as the Plurinational State of Bolivia.
- Bolivia is home to a population consisting of 10,556,102 individuals.
- In terms of area, it is the world’s 28th largest country.
- The National Day of the country is celebrated on the 6th of August.
- It shares its land border with Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru.
- With an annual rainfall exceeding 500 mm, Bolivia is counted among the world’s wettest countries.
- Lake Titicaca, the highest and deepest lake of the world which is navigable, is situated in Bolivia.
- It is a culturally diverse country with over thirty different native cultures being practiced.
- The country has more than thirty official languages. Spanish, Aymara and Quenchua are the main languages spoken in the country by the majority of the population.
- Eighty percent of the population of Bolivia consists of Roman Catholic Christians.
- The world’s highest administrative capital – La Paz – is the capital city of Bolivia.
- The country has the largest butterfly sanctuary in the world.
- Among the most popular cities of the country are Santa Cruz de la Sierra, La Paz, Sacaba and El Alto.
- Bolivia is a producer of several important natural resources including natural gas, gold, tin, zinc, lead, petroleum and tungsten.
- Among agricultural products, the country is known for its production of cotton, soybeans, coffee, cocoa, sugarcane and potatoes.
- The administrative divisions of the country are termed as departments which are nine in number.
- The country contains the world’s largest deposits of salt as well as lithium. The salt deposits are found at the Salar de Uyuni salt beds while lithium is deposited under the salt.
The countries discussed above are not only the largest in terms of size, but also significant based on the region occupied by them on the continent. The deposits of natural resources, historical importance, geographical landmarks, biodiversity and cultural colors of these countries make them stand out among the rest in the world.