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28 Fun South America Facts for Kids and Inquisitive Adults

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Last Updated on November 19, 2023 by Ariana Svenson

Here’s our current collection of fun South America facts for kids and adults alike. vFrom towering mountains and sprawling rainforests to thrilling festivals and delicious food, there is so much to learn about South America!

From the time I arrived in South America over 20 years ago I’ve found it it endlessly fascinating, and hope you will too. Please forgive me some of the photos from my travels, it has been a wonderful trip down memory lane! Whether you are learning more about the continent before you visit or you just want to know more about South America, here are some amazing South America facts!

This post may contain affiliate links, from which we would earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. More info in my disclaimer.​

facts about South america, facts about peru, Cusco Peru 28 Fun South America Facts for Kids and Inquisitive Adults

South America Facts for Kids and Inquisitive Adults

1. There are 12 Countries on the South American Continent


This is one of the most important facts about South America we think. South America is located in the Southern Hemisphere. It is made up of 12 unique countries with distinct cultures, traditions, and landscapes, from the Atacama Desert to the Andes mountain range.

Here’s a list of the countries in South America:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Guyana
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Suriname
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

If you’re wondering which country to visit, read about the Best Countries to Visit in South America with Kids here.

south america facts, indigenous tribes of Peru

2. There are Lots of Indigenous Tribes Living in South America


One of the most amazing South America facts for kids is that for thousands of years, numerous indigenous tribes have inhabited areas across South America. These tribes have unique cultures, languages, and customs and have historically been close to the nature around them, co-existing and thriving with their environment.

There are many tribes in areas like the Amazon Rainforest, although not as many as there used to be. Some indigenous tribes continue to live, maintaining age-old traditions and practices; these are referred to as uncontacted tribes.

christ the redeemer brazil south america facts

3. Brazil Hosted the 2016 Summer Olympics


Brazil made history in 2016 by becoming the first South American country to host the Summer Olympics. The games were held in Rio de Janeiro, known for its stunning beaches and vibrant culture.

Athletes worldwide competed against the backdrop of iconic landmarks such as the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain.

taquile-island-lake-titicaca-peru

Lake Titicaca, Peru

4. Lake Titicaca is the World’s Highest Navigable Lake


Lake Titicaca spans the borders of Peru and Bolivia. It is located over 12,500 feet/ 3810 metres above sea level.

According to Incan mythology, the first Inca king, Manco Capac, was born here. If you visit Lake Titicaca, you can see the Uros floating islands made entirely of reeds!

Salar de Uyuni in South America

The author driving across the Salars of Coipasa and Uyuni in 2004.

5. The Salar de Uyuni is in South America and Covers a Huge Area!


The Salar de Uyuni is one of the world’s most fascinating places to visit. The combined Salars cover a massive 10,500km² of land. That’s the largest salt flat in the world! The Salar de Uyuni is located in the Southwestern part of Bolivia. My adventures travelling through the Salar de Coipasa onto the Salar de Uyuni and across into Chile is one of my favourite adventures of all time!

The flats are a result of transformations between many prehistoric lakes. The lakes are covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has nearly complete flatness with average elevation variations within one meter over the entire area of the Salar de Uyuni. Under the crust is a pool of brine with lots of lithium inside, accounting for 50% to 70% of the world’s lithium reserves.

Facts about South America, Amazon River Facts

6. The Amazon River Runs Through South America and is the Longest on the Continent


At an impressive length of approximately 6,400 kilometres, the Amazon River is the longest in South America.

Depending on your location, the width spans 4-50km along the river. Yes that’s right it’s a whopping 4km wide at its narrowest point.

Starting in the Andes Mountains of Peru, it winds its way across the continent, passing through Brazil before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.

It becomes the Amazon when the Ucayali River meets the Marañón River upstream of Iquitos.

The Amazon is the second-longest river globally, slightly shorter than the Nile. Many species live in the river, including the pink Amazon river dolphin, also known as boto. Yes, they are actually pink!

Beyond its length, the Amazon River discharges more water than any other river worldwide and deposits 9-30 gallons of water into the sea daily.

Read more amazing and Interesting Facts About the Amazon River here.

The Rainbow Mountain Peru, South America Facts for Kids

7. Peru is Home to Rainbow Mountains


Peru has many rainbow mountains, but the famous Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca, is the most famous, due to Instagram.

Read more Peru Facts here!

If you’re looking for a quieter rainbow mountain, consider the Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain.

Different types of mineral deposits cause their layered gold, lavender, maroon, and turquoise hues. It’s like a painting coming to life!

If you want to learn more about the rainbow mountains, read our Facts about the Rainbow Mountain Peru.

facts about South America, Map of South America

8. Brazil Shares borders with All Countries in South America Apart from Two


Brazil is the 5th largest country globally, accounting for nearly half of South America. Brazil’s borders stretch more than 16,000 kilometers in total.

Chile and Ecuador are the only countries in South America that do not share a border with Brazil due to the barriers created by the Andes Mountains.

9. The Largest Country in South America is Brazil


Brazil occupies a massive area of 8.51 million square kilometers. Brazil also has a population of 214.3 million, the largest in South America. Its sheer size allows it to boast an impressive diversity of ecosystems, including the Amazon Rainforest, Pantanal wetlands, and the savannahs of the Cerrado.

Its vibrant cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo (South America’s largest city) are famous worldwide and fabulous for visiting with kids.

South America Facts for kids, anaconda snake

10. The Largest Snake Species in the World Lives in South America


The green anaconda snake is native to South America. They can grow to a whopping 9 meters long and weigh up to 227kg! One of the creepier South America facts for kids!

Anaconda snakes are found in many parts of northern South America in countries like Brazil. These snakes have massive jaws that can swallow prey whole. This includes animals like jaguars and deer. Adult anacondas can eat large animals including Capybaras (seriously)! Learn more about Capybaras in our Interesting and Fun Capybara Facts for Kids.

The wetlands and swamps of the Amazon basin provide the perfect habitat for these colossal creatures, where they are often seen lurking just beneath the surface of the water, waiting for prey. They are usually found in slow-moving streams and marshes.

If you want to discover what other creatures live in the Amazon basin, why not read our Facts about the Amazon River for Kids?

11. The Gateway to Antarctica is in South America


Another one of the most interesting facts about South America is that Ushuaia, in southern Argentina, is the main gateway for ships sailing to Antarctica. If you plan a trip to Antarctica, you’ll most likely fly into Ushuaia to start your adventure.

Bonus Fact: Ushuaia is also the southernmost city in the continent of South America!

La Paz Bolivia, Facts about South America, Fun Facts about Bolivia

12. South America is Home to the Worlds Highest Capital City


La Paz, the de facto capital of Bolivia, is at a dizzying altitude of about 3,625 meters above sea level. Its high altitude often gives first-time visitors a touch of altitude sickness, but it’s worth it for the stunning city views against the backdrop of the Andes mountain range. Now this is a fact on South America that will make your head spin, literally!

If you plan to visit La Paz with kids, read our tips on Acclimating to Altitude with Kids.

Facts About The Incas For Kids

13. The Inca Empire Once Dominated South America


The Inca Empire, in its heyday from 1438 to 1533, was the largest in pre-Columbian America. Discover more by reading our Facts about the Incas for Kids.

Based in Cusco, the Incas had an advanced understanding of agriculture, architecture, and astronomy. Today, their legacy can be seen in sites like Machu Picchu, the Incan road system, and many Quechua-speaking communities in Peru and Bolivia.

28 Fun South America Facts for Kids and Inquisitive Adults, coffee image


14. Brazil, Colombia and Peru Are Famous for Coffee Production


These three South American countries are among the world’s top coffee producers. The region’s optimal climate and altitude conditions contribute to high-quality coffee beans.

Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world, accounting for about a third of all coffee. The country’s vast size allows for diverse coffee types and flavours. Brazil’s coffee is often used as a base in espresso blends for its rich, soft nutty taste. If you want to visit the coffee-growing regions, they are Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, and Parana.

Colombia is known for producing arguably the best coffee in the world. It’s the third-largest coffee producer globally, following Brazil and Vietnam. The country’s primary coffee-growing areas are among the three mountain ranges that split Colombia north to south.

Peruvian coffee is gaining recognition for its quality. vThe coffee sector in Peru has traditionally been dominated by small-scale farmers who cultivate coffee on the slopes of the Andes. These conditions are ideal for producing high-quality Arabica coffee. Read more about food and drink in Peru here with our Peru Food Facts.

Peruvian Food Facts, Chocolate, Cacoa

15. Chocolate Also has Strong Ties with South America​


I bet you didn’t know that the Aztec, Mayans, and Incas were the first civilizations to make chocolate? Chocolate began being produced around about 600 AD. It first was made as a beverage that was mixed with alcohol and spices. Today we most think of chocolate in bars and candy.

And, if you think eating chocolate makes you happy, you might be right! Chocolate was once called the “food of the gods”. Cacao (the plant that makes chocolate) has stimulants like theobromine which is a natural mood enhancer! Chocolate making is still a treasured tradition in parts of South America to date. This is one of the sweet South America facts for kids!

Tip: Whilst in Cusco, make sure you Visit the Choco Museo!


16. The Amazon Rainforest is Located in South America


The Amazon Rainforest, also known as “the planet’s lungs,” spans nine countries in South America.

An amazing Fact about the Amazon Rainforest for Kids is that it’s home to an astonishing diversity of wildlife and plants, many of which are not found anywhere else in the world.

The Amazon plays a crucial role in global climate regulation by absorbing vast amounts of carbon dioxide. It’s so big it even produces its own weather. The evaporation from the trees and plants forms clouds, which then produce rain.

Western Coast of Ecuador, Facts on South America


17. The Galapagos Islands are Located off the Western Coast of Ecuador


The world-renowned Galapagos Islands are in South America. The islands are located off the coast of Ecuador and are famous for their unique wildlife that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

These islands are home to amazing creatures like the giant Galapagos Tortoise and the Marine Iguana. These creatures are found nowhere else on earth, making the Galapagos an ideal destination if you love animals!

family affordable vacations Peru, Peru Family Travel

18. Spanish is the Official Language of 9 South American Countries


Many languages, including indigenous languages, are spoken in South America. However, Spanish is the official language of 9/12 South American countries. Here’s a list of Spanish-speaking countries in South America:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

Other common languages in South America are Portuguese which is spoken in Brazil, and English, which is spoken in Guyana and Dutch in Suriname.

While South America is linguistically diverse, Spanish is the official language in nine of the twelve countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, while Guyana and Suriname are English and Dutch-speaking, respectively.

Interesting Facts About Peru: Geographical Peru Facts

19. Llamas are Native to South America


A fun Fact about Bolivia is that the Llama is the national animal.

Llamas are native to South America along with Alpacas (you can learn about the Difference Between Llamas and Alpacas here) and have been used as pack animals in local cultures for thousands of years. Llamas also have a vast cultural and symbolic meaning.

Peru is a great place to see llamas – you can even go Trekking with Llamas. To learn more about Llamas, read these Fascinating Llama Facts.

If on the other hand you want to learn about the elegant and soft coated alpaca, check out our Fun Facts About Alpacas for Kids and Curious Adults.

20. South America is the Fourth-Largest Continent in the World


South America is the fourth-largest continent globally, trailing behind Asia, Africa, and North America.

The continent spans a total land area of about 17.84 million square kilometres, accommodating a population of over 439,719,009 people as of 2023.

Trekking with Toddlers in the Andes

21. South America is Home to the Andes Mountains Range


The Andes, the world’s longest continental mountain range, spans seven countries in South America – Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina!

Mount Aconcagua is the highest peak of the Andes (6,921m) in Argentina and the highest mountain in Chile.

Here are some more nature facts about South America:

  • The driest place in South America is the Atacama Desert located in Argentina and Chile.
  • Angel Falls in Venezuela is the tallest waterfall in the entire world.
  • The largest river basin in the world is the Amazon River Basin.
  • The longest mountain range in the world is the Andes Mountains.
  • Another South America facts is that Iguazu Falls is the largest waterfall system in the world. Located on the border of Argentina and Brazil, it stretches nearly 3km long. It is also twice as wide as Niagara Falls.

fun facts south America, Carnival Brazil

22. Carnaval is a Famous Festival Celebrated in Many Countries in South America


Carnaval is a vibrant and colourful festival celebrated in many South American countries, especially Brazil. The most famous Carnaval parades occur in Rio de Janeiro, with some people preparing all year for the event. Each samba school presents an elaborate parade with a theme highlighted by decorated floats and costumes.

The celebrations in other parts of Brazil, like Salvador and Recife, take on different styles. Salvador is famous for its trio elétrico parades, whereas Recife is known for its frevo music with a fast, paced rhythm.

While the festival is most associated with Brazil, other South American countries, such as Colombia, Uruguay, and Argentina, also celebrate Carnaval. I’ve had wonderful celebrations of carnaval in Cusco, Peru and Barranquilla in Colombia!

south america facts, Uruguay beach

23. The Safest Country in South America is Uruguay


According to the Global Peace Index – a way of measuring peace across the world, Uruguay is the safest country in South America.

This is due to political stability, a low crime rate and high living standards. Uruguay ranks 47/163 ahead of France, Greece, Cuba and Egypt.

24. Suriname is the Smallest Country in South America


Suriname covers an area of 163,819 km². Despite its small size, it boasts a diverse culture with influences from Africa, India, China, and indigenous tribes.

Bonus Fact: More than 90% of Suriname’s territory is covered by tropical rainforests, making it one of the most forested countries in the world.

Facts about Peruvian Food, Potatoes in Peru

25. Potatoes Originated in South America


Potatoes, a staple food in many countries worldwide, were first cultivated in South America around 7,000–10,000 years ago. There are still thousands of different varieties grown in the Andean region. This means that the potato is one of the world’s oldest crops.

If you visit South America, you will see potatoes grown in various climates, from high in the Andes Mountains to the lowlands. Potato growing is most popular in Peru, Chile and Ecuador. Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela also grow many potatoes! This is not only one of the fun facts about South America but an important one too!

South America Facts, Footbal Brasil, Soccer in South America

26. Football is Very Popular in Many Countries in South America


One of the most fun facts about South America is that football arrived in South America in the 19th century. Buenos Aires is the first city to catch on to the game of football (or soccer).

European sailors arrived in Buenos Aires and introduced the game to some of the people of Argentina. Later, a famous UK football player, Charles Miller, introduced football to São Paulo, Brazil. Similar events happened across South America.

By 1930s, football had become heavily entwined in South American culture and loved by many. Brazil and Argentina are among the most successful countries in FIFA world cup history. Football is everywhere, from South Americans playing in the streets to the professional leagues.

The countries continue to produce some of the world’s best players and teams, and huge crowds gather to watch matches. Some of the most famous footballers of all time come from South America, including Pele (brazil) and Diego Maradona (Argentina). Arguably the greatest player of all time (who is still playing) is Lionel Messi from Argentina.

Still looking for awesome facts about south america for kids?

Valle of Cocora, El Canto Movie Valley, South American Facts

The Valle of Cocora inspired the movie Encanto; the author visited this remote valley in Colombia back in 2004 and loved it!

27. Encanto is Set in South America


Still looking for awesome facts about south america for kids? Well then, Disney’s En Canto was sent in Columbia. Even though Encanto tells a universal story, the Columbian culture is front and center in the animated film.

The town in Encanto is a real life town in Columbia, Valle de Cocora. Also, the beginning of the film tells of the violent and tumultuous past of Columbia and how it evolved into a beautiful welcoming country. This has to be one of the facts about South America Disney fans can rejoice in.

Machu Picchu Peru, Facts about South America, places to visit in Peru

28. South America Has Over 70 Unesco World Heritage Sites


A UNESCO site is a site that has been recognized for its unique value to humanity. These sites vary hugely from the stunning historical centres of cities such as Quito, Ecuador and Cuzco, Peru, to the wonders of the Galapagos islands.

The well-preserved Inca civilization of Machu Picchu is also a UNESCO world heritage site. Discover more by reading our our Machu Picchu Facts for Kids post here. Visiting some of these sites will take you on a journey through South America’s rich history and natural beauty!

Fuel A Wanderlust Life Without Breaking The Bank, South America Facts

Enjoying Carnival in Barranquilla, Colombia with my brother, 2004

The Verdict: South America Facts


We hope you have enjoyed our fun facts about South America. South America is a huge continent with great diversity across its 12 countries. Have you considered a South America Family Vacation? As you can tell, we’ve loved our travels all around South America (with and without kids).

Peru with Kids is a great idea if you are unsure which country to visit. You can trek Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail with Kids and discover the varied landscapes.

Have something you’d like to say about South America facts? Perhaps you have some fun facts on South America you would like to share with us? Leave them in the comments below.

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28 Fun South America Facts for Kids and Inquisitive Adults


The post 28 Fun South America Facts for Kids and Inquisitive Adults appeared first on A World of Travels with Kids.
 
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