45 South America Facts: Land of Diversity and Rich Cultural Heritage

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1Oldest Mummies

Oldest Mummies

The oldest mummies ever discovered are from the South American Chinchorro civilization. They're older than the pyramids in Egypt by almost two millennia, or over 7,000 years.

2. The Mapuche were one of the few South American tribes to successfully resist Spanish colonization and maintain their independence for more than 300 years. The Spaniards earned the nickname "New Incas" as they too put up a valiant fight against the Incan Empire. It wasn't until 1883 that they finally succumbed to the Spanish.

3. Polynesians arrived in South America circa 1200 A.D., hundreds of years before the Europeans did.

4. If you were to draw a line due south from Jacksonville, Florida, the entire continent of South America would lie to the east of that line.

5. The United States has a defense pact with most of South America; it's called the Rio Pact, or TIAR, and it guarantees each country's right to an equal share of military aid from the other. It has been invoked numerous times, and this alliance predates NATO by two years. Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Mexico, and Ecuador are not part of this treaty, however.

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6South American Mountain Lions

South American Mountain Lions

When humans arrived in North America some 10,000 years ago, they eradicated the entire native population of mountain lions. Since then, mountain lions have been spotted all over North America, but they are actually the offspring of mountain lions native to South America who made their way north.

7. With a frequency of over 100%, blood type "O" is the most common blood type among the native populations of the Americas, particularly in Central and South American tribes.

8. There is evidence that prehistoric monkeys crossed the Atlantic Ocean on makeshift rafts to get from Africa to South America. A fossil discovered in Peru hints that, more than 30 million years ago, a distinct, completely extinct family of monkeys performed this oceanic migration when Africa and South America were much closer than they are now.

9. Over 200 lightning strikes an hour can be seen in the Lake Maracaibo basin in Venezuela for up to 10 hours at a time. You can plan ahead for it up to a few months, and it happens more than a hundred times a year. It has been named Catatumbo lightning and as many as 448,000 lightning strikes are reported here every year. Because lightning strikes happen so often and are so accurate, they have been used as a sailing beacon for a long time.

10. Out of the 12.5 million slaves that made the Atlantic crossing, only 388,000 were sold in the United States. Mexico and South America received the remaining 10.7 million.

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11War on Drugs In S. America

War on Drugs In S. America

The United States routinely sprays herbicides across the jungles of Central and South America as part of the war on drugs, wiping out both food and drug crops.

12. After successfully negotiating the purchase of New Amsterdam (now known as New York) from the Dutch in 1667, the English agreed to give up their claims to the contested South American region of Suriname. As of the 21st century, Suriname is the only sovereign nation in the Americas where Dutch is the official language.

13. Dutch is spoken widely in Suriname, in South America, but the locals also speak Sranan Tongo, a creole language derived from Portuguese, Dutch, and West African languages. The population consists of aboriginals, Dutch, Indonesians, Indians, Chinese, and escaped slaves (Maroons). As a result of centuries of Dutch control and the subsequent forced or voluntary migration of people of many different nationalities, the country is now one of the most culturally and religiously diverse places on the planet.

14. Colonia Tovar is a little town in Venezuela that was founded by German immigrants in 1843, and it has remained true to its Germanic roots ever since, earning it the nickname "The Germany of the Caribbean" due to its authentic architecture, cuisine, and language.

15. Because Brazil has a much larger population than any of the other Spanish-speaking countries in South America, Portuguese is the most widely spoken language in South America.

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16Great American Interchange

Great American Interchange

About 2.7 million years ago, the Isthmus of Panama rose, creating a land bridge between North and South America. This is when the Great American Interchange happened, which saw bears, cougars, and horses heading south and creatures such as armadillos, opossums, porcupines, and others migrating northward.

17. As an overseas department and region of France, French Guiana lacks the autonomy of a true independent state. French Guiana is in South America, but it is part of the European Union, uses the euro, and everyone who lives there is a French citizen, even though the country is in South America.

18. The great South American liberator Simón Bolívar was known as "Iron Butt" (culo de hierro) for his "endurance on horseback." In the 1800s, "iron butt" helped liberate Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama from Spanish rule.

19. The prehistoric Titanoboa snake could reach a length of 42 feet and a weight of up to 2,500 pounds. It is believed to have preyed on giant crocodiles and existed in what is now South America.

20. Capybaras are the world's largest extant species of rodent, and they have flourished well in South American cities, where they are commonly spotted in parks and around lakes. Capybaras are tame and often tolerate being petted by humans; however, this is not recommended due to the ticks these mammals carry, which can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

21Terror Birds of S. America

Terror Birds of S. America

In the past, South America was home to carnivorous, flightless birds that reached heights of 8 feet and weighed as much as 300 pounds. They were commonly referred to as "terror birds." It lived approximately 5 to 2 million years ago.

22. Only the spectacled bear is indigenous to South America. One of four living bear species, they are also known as Andean bears since they prefer to spend most of their time in trees. Only 5–7% of their diet consists of meat, making it predominantly vegetarian. Paddington Bear was based on this species of bear.

23. Arthur Raymond Chung, President of Guyana, South America, from 1970 to 1980, is noted for being the first ethnically Chinese head of state in a non-Asian majority country.

24. There was a war between Peru and Ecuador in 1941. Neither nation was an Axis or an Allied power. In other words, this was an international war that broke out during World War 2 but had nothing to do with the European theater.

25. After the American Civil War, many individuals who supported the Confederacy emigrated to Mexico and other parts of South America. Many people from the American South decided to relocate to Brazil, where they founded communities with names like "Americana" and "New Texas."

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