South America, the planet’s 4th largest continent, includes (12) independent countries and (3) major territories; the Falkland Islands, Galapagos Islands and French Guiana.
The continent contains the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls in Venezuela; the largest river (by volume), the Amazon River; the longest mountain range, the Andes, and the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert in Chile.
In addition, it includes the largest rainforest, the Amazon Rainforest; the highest capital city, La Paz, Bolivia; the highest commercially navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca; and, excluding research stations in Antarctica, the world’s southernmost permanently inhabited community, Puerto Toro, Chile.
Namesake: Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer
Major Languages: Portuguese, Spanish, English, Dutch, French, Italian, Arabic, and dozens of indigenous languages
Population: 379,500,000 (2009 est) It’s the fifth most populous continent, after Asia, Africa, Europe and North America
Population Density: 21.4 sq km (56.0 sq mi)