Exploring South America: 45 Fascinating Facts About Its Countries

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1Tax evasion

Tax evasion

In the 1900s, Argentina had a tax on unmarried men that included an exemption for single men who had proposed to a woman for marriage but were rejected. Women then started proposals rejection businesses where they would charge to turn down proposals from bachelors seeking to evade the tax.

2. The country of Paraguay runs on 100% hydroelectric power and only consumes 10% of the electricity it generates, exporting the rest. Almost all of this power comes from the Itaípu dam, which also provides over 25% of Brazil's electricity.

3. Peru has 90 different microclimates, including 30 of the 32 world climates, making it one of the most diverse countries in the world in microclimates.

4. An Amazon tribe named Kayapo has beaten back ranchers and gold miners and famously stopped a dam. They even rejected money from dam-building companies saying “We have decided that we do not want a single penny of your dirty money... Our river does not have a price, our fish that we eat does not have a price, and the happiness of our grandchildren does not have a price.”

5. There is a river basin named Catatumbo in Venezuela that gets struck by lightning over 200 times per hour for up to 10 hrs straight. It occurs more than 100 times a year and is predictable up to a few months in advance.

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6Being late

Being late

Being late in Brazil is so part of the culture that if they want to start on time they say “com pontualidade britânica” which means “with British punctuality.”

7. Bolivia became landlocked in 1904 after losing the War of the Pacific. However, the country still observes the Day of the Sea, "where politicians give speeches and people listen to the recorded sound of seagulls."

8. The Armed Forces of Colombia once decided to commission a pop song that secretly included a Morse code message that was intended to be heard by their kidnapped military personnel. They did this because their kidnappers allowed the captives to listen to the radio. The secret message was “19 people rescued, you're next. Don't lose hope.”

9. Mount Chimborazo of Ecuador is the highest point on Earth, 1.5 miles/2.4 kilometers above Mount Everest. The Earth is an 'oblate spheroid' shape, so the equator bulges out. The mountain sits on top of this bulge so it is the closest point to the moon and outer space.

10. In 1865, dictator Francisco Solano López of Paraguay plunged his country into an ill-advised war with Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. In just 5 years, Paraguay lost over half its population, including up to 90% of its men. It was arguably the worst military defeat ever suffered by a modern nation-state.

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11Seventh son

Seventh son

In Argentina, the seventh son of a couple automatically receives the Godfathership of the President to prevent him from turning into a werewolf.

12. Every December 25th, a town in Peru celebrates "Takanakuy" where men, women, and children settle grudges from the past year by calling each other out and having a fistfight. Then everybody goes drinking to numb the pain and move on to a new year.

13. The Tagua Tagua observatory in Chile is known for its peculiar wine whose secret ingredient is extra-terrestrial in nature. It is made by fermenting pieces of a billion-year-old meteorite into it.

14. Peru has a really old hospital ship named BAP Puno that still in service. It was built in 1862 and it still runs on its original steam engine that is fueled not by coal but with dried llama dung.

15. José Mujica, the former President of Uruguay was considered the poorest president in the world and would donate 90% of his $12,000 monthly salary to charities and would even wait his turn at public hospitals.

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16Volcano disaster

Volcano disaster

In 1985, a volcano in Colombia that was covered in glaciers erupted, instantly melting the glaciers. Two hours later, a 100-feet deep flood of rock and water traveling 39 feet per second leveled an entire nearby village, killing 20,000 out of its 29,000 residents.

17. In the town of Laguna, Brazil a pod of Bottlenose Dolphin cooperatively fish with fishermen. The dolphin herd mullet toward the shore and signal the fishermen to cast their nets. They do this every day. Town records say that the dolphins and fishermen have been cooperating since 1847.

18. The country of Chile is so long that it would stretch from the northernmost point of Norway all the way south to Morocco.

19. There is a boiling river named Shanay-Timpishka in Peru that kills everything that falls into it.

20. Cerro Rico, one of Bolivia's oldest silver mines has claimed the lives of an estimated 8 million people in the past 500 years. It is known as the 'Mountain that eats men" and is still mined with pick and shovel today.



Paraguay briefly made married polygamy legal in the 19th century, after a major war against neighboring countries had claimed the lives of many men. At that time, males were only 13% of the total population of Paraguay.

22. During the Tinku festival which is celebrated in Bolivia women form circles and begin chanting while the men proceed to fight each other until blood is shed. The blood is considered a sacrifice for Pachamama (Mother Nature). Rarely even women join the fighting.

23. Guyana’s largest ethnic group, the Indo-Guyanese (also known as East Indians) who are the descendants of indentured servants from India, make up 43.5% of the population.

24. Racing Club of Argentina had a curse put on their stadium by their fierce rivals by burying 7 dead cats under the pitch in 1967, and oddly enough they stopped winning. It took them 34 years to find all 7, after which they won the championship the same year the last cat was found.

25. In Quito, Ecuador there is a group of vigilantes known as “Acciōn Ortogrāfica Quito” who go around correcting all the bad grammar they find in graffiti.

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