Welcome to South America
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There are so many ways for kids to learn about South America for their South America unit study. Here are a few fun facts about South America and a breakdown of South America’s regions to get you started. Then you can explore all the delicious food South America has to offer!
Facts about South America
South America is the world’s fourth-largest continent. It is almost twice as big as Europe!
It borders the South Atlantic Ocean on the east, North America and the Caribbean Sea on the north, the South Pacific Ocean on the west, and the Drake Passage (between the tip of South America and Antarctica) to the south.
There are 12 countries in South America. Here you will find around 450 languages spoken. Spanish and Portuguese are the most common.
The word “America” comes from the name of the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. He was the first person to realize that South America was not connected to Asia.
The Amazon Rainforest is in South America. It is the world’s largest rainforest, covering much of Brazil and well as Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. This rainforest is home to more than 40% of the world’s plants and animals. Here you find the world’s longest snake, the anaconda. Cacao (where we get chocolate) is native to the Amazon region.
The Amazon River is the widest and largest river (by water volume) in the world. (The only river longer is the Nile in Egypt.) The Amazon River flows from the mountains of Peru to the Atlantic coast of Brazil.
The Andes Mountains are the world’s longest mountain range. They run from the north to the south of South America. They go through seven countries (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina). The potato originated high in the Andes mountains.
Farmers have grown corn in South America for over 5,000 years. It is the most widely cultivated crop throughout South America, rivaled only by potatoes.
Regions in South America
Geographers often divide South America into four regions. If you are learning about South America for a classroom or homeschool geography unit study, you may find it helpful to break the South America unit into these sections.
This north-eastern region of South America includes French Guiana, Guyana, and Suriname.
The people here depend on root vegetables like cassava and sweet potatoes. Seafood and fresh fruits are also a major part of their diet.
The Andean States
This western region of South America includes Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Here you find nations that share the Andes mountain range. They also share a culture with Andean heritage. (While the Andes do run through Argentina and Chile they are often not considered a part of this region. This is because they do not share the same Andean cultural heritage as the northern Andean States.)
Corn and potatoes are important crops in the Andean States. Here you also find lots of soups and stews with local ingredients.
Eastern South America (Brazil)
The eastern part of South America is taken up mostly by Brazil.
Soybean, corn (maize), sugarcane, and rice are all major crops in Brazil. In addition, Brazil leads the world in the production of coffee.
This southern region of South America includes Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Southern Brazil.
These countries are mostly all south of the Tropic of Capricorn. (The Tropic of Capricorn is the southernmost latitude where the sun appears directly overhead at noon one day in December. This day marks the beginning of summer for the Southern Hemisphere.)
Because of this, the Southern Cone is a tropical region. Here you find fruits such as avocado, pineapple, papaya, and guava. It is also where many cashews and Brazil nuts are cultivated.
Food in South American
South American cuisine makes use of local produce, grains, and cheese to create flavorful and comforting dishes. From high in the Andes mountains to the tropical regions, there are so many flavors to explore. Some may be familiar. But, others may be new.
There are many dishes that are easy for kids to help make. Getting your hands messy in the kitchen is such a fun way to learn about the culture and countries of South America.
You may find that you find a new favorite food or recipe!
Here are three easy dishes to get you started.
Explore South America
There are 12 countries in South America. We will be adding some soon!