South America is thought to have been first inhabited by people crossing the Bering Land Bridge, now the Bering strait, though there are also suggestions of migration from the southern Pacific Ocean.
South America, at (17,819,000 sq km), is the fourth largest continent in the world.
Largest river (by volume): Amazon river at 4,087 miles. The Amazon is visible from space.
Largest rainforest: Amazon rainforest
- The Amazon rainforest, world's largest remaining natural resource, represents 54% of the total rainforests left on Earth.
- It covers an area of 2,5 million square miles, embracing nine South America countries: Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and the Guianas - Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname, or two thirds of the South America continent.
- More than 20% of Earth's oxygen is produced in this area, thus the name "Lungs of the Planet"
- The trees of a tropical rainforest are so densely packed that rain falling on the canopy can take as long as 10 minutes to reach the ground.
- More than half of the world's estimated ten million species of plants, animals and insects live in the tropical forest.
- 70% of plants found to have anticancer properites are found only in the rainforest
- In the moist rainforests of South America, sloths move so slowly that algae are able to grow in their fur.
- Some rainforest monkeys are omnivores, eating both animals and plants.
- More than 2,000 different species of butterflies are found in the rainforests of South America.
- The forests of Central Africa are home to more than 8,000 different species of plants.
- Flying animals of Asian rainforests include frogs, squirrels and snakes.
- 80% of the flowers in the Australian rainforests are not found anywhere else in the world.
- Bats are essential for the pollination of many tropical foodstuffs such as bananas and mangoes.
- 1 out of 4 ingredients in our medicine is from rainforest plants.
- Giant bamboo plants can grow up to 9 inches a day.
- Amazon rainforest birds account for for at least one third of the world's bird species, being toucan the most popular icon
- The number of edible fruits found in the rainforest is estimated in 3,000. Amazon natives consume more than 1,500, but only 200 are cultivated for use today
- An estimated 90% of Amazon rainforest plants used by Amazon natives have not been studied by modern science
In 1500 there were an estimated 6 to 9 million Amazon natives. By 1900 the number has gone down to one million lelf in Brazil.
Today, the number is believed to be of around 250,000 Amazon natives, comprising 215 ethnic groups with 170 different languages
There may also be fifty or so Amazon tribes living in the depths of the Amazon rainforest that have never had contact with the outside world
Largest mountain range: Andes (Cordillera de los Andes)
Largest commercially navigable lake: Lake Titicaca, shared by Bolivia and Peru
Largest salt lake in the world: Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni salt flats), Bolivia
Driest place on Earth: Atacama desert, Chile
Buenaventura, Colombia with 267" rain per year is the wettest inhabited place on earth.
Highest capital city: La Paz, Bolivia
Highest point in the Western Hemisphere: Mount Aconcagua (6,962 m.a.s.l.) in Mendoza province, Argentina
Lowest point in the Western Hemisphere: Laguna del Carbon (-105 m.). Santa Cruz province, Argentina
World's highest waterfall: Salto del Angel (Angel Falls), Venezuela
World's southernmost inhabited community: Puerto Toro, Chile
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