Popular destinations in South America

South America is the planet’s 4th largest continent, which consists of 12 countries and 3 major territories. South America is the host of the largest tropical rainforest in the world and the second longest river (Amazon) in the world, the second highest mountain range (the Andes), amazing remote islands (islands (Galapagos Islands, Easter Island and Fernando de Noronha), tallest and largest waterfalls, amazing beaches and other diverse landforms on the planet.

South American countries are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela and Paraguay.

The continent has relatively small population but a very rich history and culture. The richness of their culture is the product of many influences such as Pre-Columbian cultures, especially in Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay; European colonial culture, nineteenth- and twentieth-century immigration from Europe, China and Japan, the introduction of slaves from Africa, etc

The most spoken languages are Spanish and Portuguese but also French and English and you can also hear Hindi, Arabic, and various indigenous dialects such as Quechua, Guaraní, Aymara  and Mapudungun.

It is easy to understand that the population of South America is an amalgam of ethnic groups. The composition differs from country to country but generally, there is a high percentage of people of Amerindian, European and African origin.

The primary religion is Roman Catholicism but there are also practitioners of Protestant, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Mormon, Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Bahá’í religions.

Today, South America is experiencing economic, social, and environmental problems, but due to the wealth of its natural resources, the continent has unlimited potential.

In all of the variety and extremes of the South American continent, a few destinations have worked their way to the top and are, by many sources, defined as South America’s top destinations.

They are:

Rio de Janeiro

The power of Rio’s seduction comes from its forest-covered mountains, and breathtaking beaches and most notably its residents who represent a melting pot of races, colors and creeds. No one race, color or religion dominates in Brazil. This is the city you will be longing for long after you are gone.

Rio de Janeiro is a city that lives in and for the sun. The world famous beaches are free to all. The most popular are Copacabana and Ipanema.

Rio’s cultural life is intense and varied. Tourists love Rio’s ritzy side with numerous opportunities for decadent kind of life.

The annual carnaval, by which the city is the most famous, enlivens the city for 3 solid days with music, singing, parties, balls, and street parades.

Some of the most popular sights in Rio are Corcovado, Pão de Açúcar (The Sugar Loaf mountains), Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas (A large lagoon with views to Corcovado and Ipanema and Leblon beaches), Maracanã (the largest football/soccer stadium in Rio) and  Jardim Botanico (the Botanical Garden).

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is the most European city than any other in South America in regards to lifestyle and architecture. The city stretches south-to-north along the Rio de la Plata and has been the gateway to Argentina for centuries.

Its multinational inhabitants people have rich cultural identity and are very proud of their European heritage.

Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan capital with bustling streets, grand avenues, old-time cafes and stylish restaurants. The city’s suburbs are small and individualized, each painted with its own characteristic colors and made in different forms.

One of the world’s finest opera houses, the Teatro Colon, had grown on the plains alongside the river.

The best expression of their spirit is the national dance, the tango, which is practiced in dance halls, parks, open plazas, and ballrooms.

Cartagena

Cartagena is a large city seaport on the northern coast of Colombia. It has colonial charm and the old walled city styled with tiled roofs, balconies and flower-filled courtyards.

Santiago

Santiago is amazing because it is one of the few capitals from which you can easily access both ski slopes (50 kms. Away) and beaches (100 kms. Away) in just a day.

There are also plenty nearby villages, located in the countryside, that can be used to relax and enjoy delicious Chilean wines.

From almost anywhere in the city, the majestic Andean Mountain Range can be viewed.

This city combines all the ideal characteristics such as a pleasant climate, beautiful surroundings and first-class tourist facilities. Local cuisine is based on seafood, fish, vegetables, and meat but also offers a variety of international specialties.

Today, Santiago is one of Latin America’s most modern metropolitan areas, with developed extensive suburbs, numerous shopping malls, and impressive high-rise architecture.

Iguazu Falls

Iguazú Falls are the result of a volcanic eruption, which left yet another large crack in the earth. Iguazú Falls are taller and four times the width of Niagara Falls.

They are divided by various islands into separate waterfalls. The best known are Devil’s Throat, or Gargantua del Diablo, San Martin, Bossetti, and Bernabe Mendez.

The falls are a part of a jungle ecosystem protected by Argentine and Brazilian national parks. Two thirds of the falls belong to Argentina and one third to Brazil.

Iguazú National Park is an excellent place for jungle trails and bird hikes. It would take you a full day to fully experience the wildlife flora and fauna.

Since the summer is tropical (hot and humid) and water levels in winter considerably lower, the best time to visit Iguazu Falls is in the spring and fall.

Easter Island

Easter Island, volcanic in origin, is the most famous but yet the least visited archaeological site in the world.

Located in the Pacific Ocean, Easter Island is considered to be the world’s most remote inhabited island.

About 1200 years ago, seafarers from a distant culture landed in a double-hulled canoe on the island’s shores. They developed a remarkable society in isolation on the island. One of their main occupation was carving giant statues out of volcanic rock. These monuments, known, as “moai” are some of the most incredible ancient relics in the world.

Easter Island inhabitants called themselves the Rapa Nui but it is still unknown where they came from and why they disappeared.

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