South America is home to a many of world-class natural wonders. These include the Amazon River, the world's largest river by volume, the Amazon Rainforest, the world's largest rainforest, and the Andes Mountains, the world's longest continental mountain range.
South America is also one of the most biodiverse continents on the Earth, with a diverse range of native flora and fauna, many of which are found nowhere else on the planet.
This continent is known as South America because it occupies the entire southern part of the Americas supercontinent. It is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east and north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the northwest by the Caribbean Sea, and on the northeast by North America. The Panama-Colombian state border is an overland border between two continents.
South America is comprised of 12 independent countries and 3 dependent territories. Brazil is the largest and most populous country in terms of area and population; it accounts for roughly half of the total mainland area and is home to more than 52 percent of the population. Suriname is the smallest independent state and the only country in the region that speaks Dutch as an official language.
The vast majority of South American countries speak Spanish, though Brazil's official languages are Portuguese and French. It is French in Guiana, Dutch in Suriname, English in Guyana, and English in the Falkland Islands. Here are some brief notes about South America's countries and dependencies.
South America's 12 Countries