PDF The Culture of South America Unit Study

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The South American continent houses 12 countries and three dependencies. Largest Country : Brazil. The country is covering more than half the continent's landmass. Did you know that Brazil is only slightly smaller than the USA? Largest City : Sao Paolo in Brazil. With more than 20 million inhabitants Sao Paulo is also one of the 10 biggest cities in the world. Smallest Country : Suriname. The country is one of the 10 most sparsely populated countries in the world. The Amazon is not only the second longest river in the world after the Nile, but also the Amazon carries more water than the world's other 10 biggest rivers combined!

Overview of South America

Read our facts about Argentina here. Driest Place : While South America's rain forests also are some of the wettest places on the earth, the Atacama desert in Chile is considered the driest place on earth. One of the earliest South American civilisations are recorded in Peru.

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South America was colonised from the late 15th century by foreign conquistadores mainly from Spain and Portugal, but also from the Dutch, British and French. The Incan Empire lasted from until Indigenous cultures still are present in South America but the numbers are diminishing. Languages in South America : Spanish is the main language in South American countries, only in Brazil people speak Portuguese and in Surinam, formerly a Dutch colony, the official language is still Dutch.

Many people speak also English as a second language. Quechua, the language spoken by the Inca, is the most common indigenous language. Almost half of the population of the South American continent lives in Brazil. Did you know? The southernmost city in the world is on the South American continent! The city is called Ushuaia, is located on the Argentinian part of the Tierra del Fuego and more than 55, people live there. Animals: In South America there are tapirs, piranhas and anacondas and many other animals.

South America is also home to many endangered animals such as the jaguar, the giant otter or the Amazonian manatee. South America's landscape is dominated from mountains and highlands such as the Andes, river basins such as the Amazon and Orinoco and coastal plains where the Atacama Desert also belongs to. While Catholicism dominates the continent, other spiritual beliefs have influenced both spiritual and secular activities. The Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a festival held every year about 40 days before Easter, is an important example of a religious celebration that has been adopted by secular culture.

It is both an important event in the Catholic calendar and one of the largest revenue generators in Rio.

South America Facts for Kids | Geography | Attractions | People

The Rio Carnival is the largest carnival event in the world, attracting millions of Brazilian and foreign tourists. During Carnival season, hotel prices are often four times higher than average. Some tourists pay hundreds of dollars to participate in the parade. Most participants, however, are Brazilian. The Rio Carnival incorporates two important social groups— samba school s and bloco s.

Samba schools are large social groups, often with thousands of members, which create elaborate floats and costumes for the Carnival parade.

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Blocos are smaller groups that often gather in neighborhood s to dance during Carnival festivities. Political Geography Political geography is the internal and external relationships between government s and citizens. The Treaty of Tordesillas of granted Spain and Portugal the exclusive right to colonize all lands outside of Europe. The treaty also established a line of demarcation, which gave all land west of the line to Spain and all land east of the line to Portugal.

Countries of South America

Spain colonized the majority of South America and Portugal colonized present-day Brazil. They also developed writing systems for native oral tradition s such as Quechua, Nahuatl, and Guarani. Marriages between European colonizers and native populations established the mestizo class. Mestizos are people of mixed indigenous and European ancestry. Today, mestizos make up large parts of the populations of many South American countries, such as Paraguay 95 percent , Ecuador 65 percent , and Colombia 58 percent. Inspired by the American and French Revolutions, mestizos fought in several wars of independence from to South America has also suffered violent political transitions, especially during the s and s.

These decades were defined by the Cold War , a global struggle between democratic Western nations and repress ive nations with communist economies. The successful Cuban revolution of brought communism to Cuba. The United States and other western nations feared that communism would spread throughout Latin America, which includes Central and South America and parts of the Caribbean. Communist leaders did, in fact, gain some power in South America during the s. Hoping to destroy the communist presence, U. These dictatorships detained tens of thousands of political prisoner s.

Many of them were tortured and killed. The nationalization and privatization of industry, as well as the influence of indigenous groups, are the primary political issues affecting South America. Nationalization is a type of ownership where the state controls an industry , as opposed to private companies. Some South American nations have nationalize d industries, such as electricity or oil production, in order to encourage economic development.

History of South America

Chile nationalized its copper mines in , for instance. Before nationalization, Chilean copper mines were controlled by large foreign companies. Bolivian President Evo Morales has nationalized the oil and natural gas industry of Bolivia. Morales also bought water distribution rights in the capital of La Paz from a private French company.

Other leaders, such as Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, have threatened to nationalize industries if foreign companies do not respect the right s of the countries they are doing business in. Many believe that nationalization has improved the lives of local populations, and the poor strongly support nationalization efforts. Others argue that nationalization has worsened the quality of services and given too much control to the government.

Some South American countries have done the opposite of nationalization—they have privatized industries.


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In these countries, such as Brazil and Argentina, the government has sold industries to mostly foreign investors and companies. Much like nationalization, privatization has had mixed results. Many industries are now more efficient producers of resources such as steel. Services such as water and sewage are also more reliable under private ownership. However, privatization has contributed to higher unemployment rates and increased the costs of goods and services. Indigenous populations of South America have aimed to increase their local and global influence.

In , for instance, Bolivia passed an important new constitution. It guaranteed political representation of indigenous groups, recognizes their communal forms of property, and grants them the right to use indigenous justice systems. The Bolivian Education Ministry is expanding its native-language programs. Their work to support the rights of indigenous people has led to the creation of many Quechua-language materials and media, including Quechua versions of the Google search page and the Microsoft Windows software system.

Future Issues Urbanization will define the human geography of South America in years to come. It is the only developing region with more poor people in cities than in rural areas. Individuals and families face increasing job insecurity, lower wage s, and a reduction in social services such as electricity and water. Urbanization and industrialization are also destroying the unique biome s of South America. The Amazon rain forest is being burned at a rate of one acre every second.

Trees are harvested for the timber industry, while the plains of the rain forest are turned into ranch es, farms, and towns. This development is increasing the amount of air and water pollution in the Amazon basin and elsewhere.


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  6. In rural areas, poor people face the consequences of geographic isolation and limited public investment in education, health care , and housing. The regulation or reduction of carbon emission s is perhaps the most important part of reducing global warming , the most recent period of climate change. As part of the international agreement known simply as the Paris Climate Agreement or Paris Agreement, some South American countries agreed to reduce emissions.

    The oil-rich countries of Venezuela and Ecuador, however, have decided not to engage with the Paris Agreement. They argue that the agreement was drafted by a small group of powerful countries. They say developed countries such as the United States and those in the European Union already developed their industries and infrastructure in the 20th century, without concern for carbon emissions. Agreements taht put limits on emissions from developing countries, they say, are unfair. These underdeveloped countries would face the challenges of development with greater responsibilities.

    South America's human landscape is deeply influenced by indigenous and immigrant populations and their connection to the physical environment. The two sides never confronted each other directly. Also called a managed economy. Also known as petroleum or crude oil. Caryl-Sue, National Geographic Society. Dunn, Margery G.