South America is an incredibly geographically diverse continent. The Amazon River and the surrounding river basin is the largest tropical rain forest in the world. The Andes Mountains are some of the most interesting landforms on the planet and stretch the entire length of the western seaboard. The Amazon River brings the waters from the melting glaciers of the Andes across the continent to the Atlantic Ocean. The Andes region is seismically active and prone to earthquakes and although volcanoes are present, such as Cotopaxi located along “volcano boulevard,” they are mostly inactive.
South America is a continent of superlatives! As we have already learned, the Amazon River is the second longest river in the world and the Amazon rain forest is largest rain forest in the world. Lake Titicaca, on the Peru-Bolivia border, is the largest of the continent's lakes and the world’s highest navigable lake. The Atacama Desert has such limited moisture that it is considered the driest place on earth. Cerro Tololo, located high in the Andes Mountains, is the world’s second largest observatory in the world. Angel Falls in Venezuela is the world’s highest waterfall.
South America is also internationally renowned for some of the remnants of the Incan civilization. Machu Picchu, considered the lost city of the Incas, is visited by thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. In 2008, Machu Picchu was voted one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World.
The political turmoil present in most of South America is directly linked to the mostly downtrodden economy of the region. Beginning in the 17th century, the exploitation of the continent's resources and the development of its industries were the result of foreign investment and initiative, especially that of Spain, Great Britain, and the United States. Since World War II the nations of South America have sought greater economic independence and there has been an increasingly strained relationship between many nations...