South America

From ArticleWorld

South America is a continent located in the Western Hemisphere, between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. The largest part of it is situated in the Southern Hemisphere. It covers an area of 17,820,000 square kilometers with a population of over 370 million people.


It is not clear how the first inhabitants reached South America and several theories have been issued. However, some steps are acknowledged by every specialist:

  • Chavin – Until 900 BC the Chavin have already established a large trade market in the continent.
  • Inca – The Andes region was powerfully dominated by the Inca civilization between 1438 and 1533. They were very developed and their cities were very well built for that time. The most common activity underwent for surviving stands in agriculture, with evidences that terrace farming was used.
  • Colonization – Spain and Portugal were the strongest maritime forces around 1500. They reached South America and started exploiting the resources and the populations found in the continent. The two countries claimed everything as their own and divided the good areas between them in colonies. Common European diseases and hard working conditions killed a large part of the native population because they were not used and adapted to it. African slaves were brought in to replace the loss man power because they developed resistance to the diseases. Another thing that Spanish colonists wanted was converting the inhabitants to Christianity. The practice failed and had an opposite effect. The American language spread because the colonists taught them how to write.
  • Independence – The beginning of the 19th century marked the independence of several colonies with the South American Wars of Independence. Most of them gained what they wanted except some that only became independent in the 20th century. They were Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname. As of 2006 French Guiana is a part of France.
  • Modern Times – The late 20th century was influenced by the Cold War. Chile’s government was overthrown and internal riots and conflicts were also experienced in Peru. Democracy only became a reality at the end of the century and remained so until today.

Improper usage

Many people tend to confuse the correct geographical location of the continent. This led to the belief that Mexico, together with other Central American or Caribbean territories to be included in South America. Another improper usage comes when using the term Latin America. The wrong belief is that it refers to all the countries in South America when in fact it refers only to the countries whose language derives from Latin (Spanish, Portughese and French)