South American countries are renowned for their biodiversity, flavorful cuisine, and deep-rooted cultural traditions. Although larger countries like Brazil and Argentina typically overshadow their smaller South American neighbors, each nation has something to offer travelers from all over the world. In this blog, we’ll take a trip around the continent, and look at one fascinating fact from each country in South America.
Argentina: is home to some of the world’s largest dinosaur fossils! The modern-day Argentine region of Patagonia was home to the largest dinosaurs on record during the late Cretaceous period. After their extinction, layers of sediment preserved 60-foot giants like the Titanosaur for millions of years. The natural erosion of the soil eventually exposed many dinosaur bones, which attract droves of new paleontologists to the Patagonia region each year.
Bolivia: is one of two landlocked countries in South America (the other being Paraguay). Spanning over 420,000 square miles, Bolivia is larger than the states of Texas and California combined.
Chile: witnessed the largest earthquake on record in 1960. On May 22nd of that year, a 9.5 earthquake devastated the city of Valdivia, a prosperous port city with an elaborate fortress complex built in the Spanish colonial era. Part of the Ring of Fire, Chile endures major volcanic eruptions and seismic activity on a frequent basis.
Colombia: is the home country of several notable cultural figures, including Shakira, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and John Leguizamo.
Ecuador: owns the Galapagos Islands, which feature a variety of endemic species that provided the basis for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Guyana: is the only country in South America where English is an official language! With close ties to the Caribbean Region, Guyana is one of the few non-Spanish speaking areas in South America. Other languages spoken here include Hindi, Chinese, and Guyanese Creole, an English-based dialect with African, Dutch, and Indian influences.
Paraguay: the place where homes have no doorbells! Instead, people clap their hands to announce their arrival. The weather in this country is so hot that residents always leave their windows open, allowing them to hear the clapping of visitors.
Peru: is one of the largest quinoa exporters in the world. Quinoa, a prominent Western health food, is a dietary staple in Peru. In this country, quinoa seeds are commonly popped and eaten like popcorn, and often blended into a hot, fruity drink that’s served with breakfast. Yum!
Suriname: During the first half of the 17th century, natives successfully resisted the colonial efforts of France, Spain, Great Britain, and the Netherlands. Control of Suriname was eventually seized by the Dutch in 1667, who remained in power until 1975.
Uruguay: banned salt shakers from restaurants and schools in an effort to tackle the nation’s rising obesity rates. You also won’t see any ketchup or mayonnaise in these places. If you want a high-sodium condiment with your meal, you’ll have to ask your waiter.
Venezuela: The largest lake in South America, Lake Maracaibo, is in this country. It spans 5,100 square miles. Between 26 and 30 million years old, it’s also one of the oldest lakes on Earth.
That ends our journey of fascinating facts! I hope this article inspired newfound interest in a South American country, as each one adds something special to the world stage.
About the author:
Dana Silverman credits her passion for travel to Girl Scouts, which provided her with amazing opportunities to attend summer camps throughout the United States during her childhood. She’s lived in Australia and New Zealand, and she’s planning a trip to Japan around her appreciation for the country’s cuisine and temples.