How Many Countries Are There In South America: Full List, Population, Facts and Figures
South America is the fourth largest of the world’s continents.

Why called South America?

This continent occupies the entire southern part of the supercontinent of the Americas, that's why is called South America.

The name America is derived from that of the Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci, one of the earliest European explorers of the New World. The term America originally was applied only to South America, but the designation soon was applied to the entire landmass. Because Mexico and Central America share an Iberian heritage with nearly all of South America, this entire region frequently is grouped under the name Latin America.

South America is the fourth largest of the world’s continents. It is the southern portion of the landmass generally referred to as the New World, the Western Hemisphere, or simply the Americas. The continent is compact and roughly triangular in shape, being broad in the north and tapering to a point—Cape Horn, Chile—in the south.It is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean from the west, by the Atlantic Ocean from the east and north, by the Caribbean Sea from the northwest and connected with North America in the northeast part. An overland border between two continents stretches along the Panama-Colombian state boundary.

In total, there are 12 independent countries and 3 dependent territories in South America. The largest country by area and the most populated is Brazil, it occupies about 50% of the total mainland area, and more than 52% of the population live on its territory. The smallest independent state is Suriname, it is the only nation in this region, speaking Dutch as an official language.

The original inhabitants of South America are believed to have descended from the same Asiatic peoples who migrated to North America from Siberia during the most recent (Wisconsin) ice age. Few of these peoples, however, survived the arrival of Europeans after 1500, most succumbing to disease or mixing with people of European and (especially in Brazil) African origin. Some parts of the continent are now industrialized, with modern cities, but the people in rural areas still follow an agricultural way of life. The wealth of mineral products and renewable resources is considerable, yet economic development in most of the continent lags behind the more industrially advanced regions of the world. Nonetheless, concern has arisen about the rapidly increasing and often destructive exploitation of these resources.

How many countries are there in South America?

Let’s count right below!

Nationality plates







Buenos Aires

Spanish*, English, Italian, German, French

Argentinian, Argentine




La Paz (administrative)

Spanish*, Quechua, Aymara, Guarani














Santafé de Bogotá






Spanish*, Quechua










Spanish*, Guaraní





Spanish*, Quéchua*, Aymara





Dutch*, Surinamese, English












12 countries but hundreds of languages

Despite being made up of only 12 sovereign countries in the continent, South America is one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world, with about 450 recorded languages.

Spanish and Portuguese top the list with the highest numbers of speakers (both over 200 million). Among the major imported languages are English (over 5 million), German (about 2 million), Italian (1.5 million), Arabic (about 1.1 million), Chinese, Ukrainian, Japanese, and Dutch.

When it comes to indigenous languages, Quechua is the most used with about 8 million speakers, followed by Guarani with 5 million, and Aymara with about 2.5 million.

What is the biggest country in South America?

Brazil covers about 47,3% of the continent and is the largest country both by population and land area. Brazil is home to more than 210 million people, and it’s also one of the largest countries in the world.

Out of the total of 12 countries in South America, the largest one, Brazil, shares borders with all but Chile and Ecuador.

What is the smallest country in South America?

On the other side of the scale, Suriname holds the title as the smallest country in South America, and it is also one of the least densely populated countries in the world.

Suriname has around 568,000 inhabitants and a land area of 163,821 km2 (63,252 sq mi).

Some indigenous tribes have no contact with modern civilization

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Photo SwedishNomad

In the global world, we’ve come to know it might be hard to imagine that there are still some indigenous tribes out there in the world which have had little or no contact at all with modern civilization.

Some of these indigenous tribes have been discovered in the past years, deep into the Amazon rainforest. But scientists believe that there are more tribes out there which are hiding even further inside the forest.

This is definitely one of the most interesting facts about South America!

Fun Facts about South America

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Photo SwedishNomad

-Brazilians are the most frequent internet users on the continent

It was named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci

-South Americans are famous for their beauty

-Maria and Gabriel are the most common names in South America

-The guinea pig is a delicacy in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru

-About 90% of the South American population consider themselves to be Christians, and over 80% are Roman Catholics.

**READ MORE: Facts About 'Tiny Alien' Visited Bolivian City after UFO Sighting

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Photo SwedishNomad
The tallest waterfall

South America is home to the tallest waterfall in the world, the Angel Falls, also referred to by its indigenous name Kerepakupai Merú. The 979 m (over 3,000 ft) high waterfall lies in the Venezuelan Canaima National Park, a part of Unesco Heritage.

The Amazon Rainforest is the world’s most biodiverse place

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Photo SwedishNomad

Even though the Amazon rainforest suffer from illegal deforestation as well as legal deforestation, and illegal pet trade, it is still home to more than 40% of the world’s plants and animals. It is incredibly biodiverse, and that’s why it needs to be protected.

It used to be connected to Africa

About 550 million years ago, it is believed that the South American continent was puzzled together with Africa, Australia, and Antartica as well as the Indian subcontinent and Arabian peninsula, which formed the supercontinent known as Gondwana.

It broke apart 180 million years ago, and the continents as we know them today were created.

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