Introductory guide to South America

South America is a continent of contrasts and extremes. From remote islands like the Galapagos to colourful cities like Buenos Aires; from the glamorous beaches of Rio de Janeiro to the lush rainforests of the Amazon, South America is bound to astound, amaze, and leave many lasting memories for any traveller.

The countries and territories of South America

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Falkland Islands (UK)
  • French Guiana (France)
  • Guyana
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Suriname
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

Major cities in South America

  • Bogotá
  • Buenos Aires
  • Caracas
  • La Paz
  • Lima
  • Montevideo
  • Rio de Janeiro
  • Santiago de Chile
  • São Paulo

Other popular travel destination in South America

  • The Andes
  • Canaima National Park and Angel Falls
  • Easter Island
  • Iguaçu Falls
  • Machu Picchu
  • Galapagos Islands
  • The Pantanal
  • Salar de Uyuni
  • Tierra del Fuego

Getting to South America from the UK

British Airways serves a number of major South American cities. You'll also find excellent connections with Spanish and Portuguese carriers such as Iberia and TAP Airlines - the latter of which is especially good for flights to Brazil.

Getting around South America

Most countries in South America don't have an extensive rail network, and cross-country railways are non existent. The best way to travel around South America is either by bus or by flying. Note that Union of South American Nations gives visa-free access and a customs union between all countries in South America.

Languages in South America

Spanish is the official language in all countries except Brazil, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. The languages of these countries are Portuguese, English, Dutch and French respectively.

Recommended highlights of South America

Some of the highlights of the continent include:

  • The ruins of ancient civilisations, such as those on Easter Island or at Mach Picchu
  • Indigenous towns and cities, including Manaus, Cuzco, Lima and La Paz
  • The icy landscapes of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego
  • Picture perfect beaches, like those found in north east Brazil

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