Recent discoveries from South America of a Native American population, akin to the Australian native population, cannot yet be confirmed with evidence. It is certain that the Indians on their way south reached Eldslandet around 8000 BC. In recent decades, it has been extensively debated whether connections across the sea have taken place in ancient times. The foundations cannot be rejected; there is numerous evidence of such a cultural transfer, e.g. finds of sculptures of women from the pre-Christian Japanese jomon period (in Ecuador and Colombia).
Native American cultures show the same ecological and historical conditions as in North America. In pre-Columbian times, the Indians hunted along the river valleys in the hot Amazon lowlands where they cultivated maniacs, hunted and fished. The area shows a significant language bias. Further south, on Pampas and Patagonia, guanaco hunting was conducted, and the Fire Indians’ isolated Indians devoted themselves to hunting and fishing, not least the collection of seafood. In the Andes a few thousand years BC a powerful high culture, with temples, ball plans, organized priesthood and sacred kingdom. Like the Mayan Indians on the Yucatan and other Mexican peoples, they grew corn and, on a higher level, potatoes.
Perhaps before the Spanish and Portuguese conquests, there were over 20 million Indians in South America, half of them in the Inca Indians’ powerful state formation. The illnesses and persecutions brought by the white invaders soon reduced the Indian population to a tenth of what it was before. Later, the Indians, especially in their mix of whites and blacks, have regained some of their former vitality.
According to Countryaah, Latin America was populated after the conquistan (conquest) by Spaniards and Portuguese, but the Native American element is still significant in its quarters. In the temperate parts of southern South America, the whites dominate (in Argentina, in addition to the Spaniards, most Germans and Italians), while the Indians are a displaced minority. The tropics, on the other hand, house a colored population: black slave settlements in Brazil’s coastal areas, Indians and Malays in Guyana, and Indians in the Amazon basin. The Portuguese in Brazil are partially mixed with the blacks, especially the lower classes. In the Andean states, Native Americans and Misties live, especially in the mountain areas, and descendants of the Spaniards. Here is America’s largest Native American population.
|Argentina||official language is Spanish|
|Bolivia||official languages are Spanish and 36 native languages (of which Quechua and Aymara are the largest)|
|Brazil||Portuguese and about 280 languages of origin|
|Chile||Spanish is the official language, certain occurrence of mapudungun (mapuche), quechua and other original languages|
|Colombia||Spanish, about 65 minority languages are also spoken|
|Ecuador||Spanish is the official language, Quichua is the largest language of origin|
|Guyana||English is the official language and is spoken by most people, a form of Hindi is also spoken as well as several of the indigenous languages|
|Paraguay||Spanish and Guarani are official languages|
|Peru||Spanish is the official language; Indigenous languages have official status in areas where they dominate|
|Suriname||Dutch is the official language|
|Uruguay||Spanish is the official language|
|Venezuela||Spanish is the official language|
South America Relief
The relief of South America is strongly marked by the Andes mountain range, which runs along the subcontinent in parallel to the Pacific Ocean, from southern Chile to Venezuela, to the north. To the west of the mountain range, crossing a few dozen kilometers, you reach the coast. In the eastern part, there are immense alluvial plains, such as the Orinoco, Amazonas and Paraná basins, which are bounded by the Guianas plateau and the Brazilian plateau, meeting the Atlantic Ocean.
It is possible to characterize the South American relief by dividing it into two large blocks: the central-eastern portion, formed by plateaus and plains, showing great stability in its lands since the end of the Paleozoic; and the western portion, consisting of recent mountain folds, with terrains characterized by instability. Within these two portions, we identified three major structural areas in the subcontinent: the eastern part, consisting of very eroded plains and mountains, as well as the aforementioned highlands of Guyana and Brazil, is also the case in Patagonia; the recently formed Andean mountain ranges; and the large flat extensions located between the eastern massifs and the western mountain ranges.
The Andes mountain range is the most extensive mountain range in the world, stretching over 8,000 kilometers across South America, dividing into several sectors and branches. It is also the second highest, after the great mountain ranges of Central Asia. The regions that are between the parallel chains, formed by numerous valleys and extensive interior plateaus, are called plateaus or highlands, which can exceed 5,000m in altitude.
The Andean peaks have volcanic origins and are close to 7,000m in altitude. Among the highest ones, Aconcagua (6,960m), Ojos del Salado 6,893m), Huascarán (6,768m), Llullaillaco (6,723m), Tupungato (6,650m), Sajama (6,520m), the Illimani (6,462m), the Coropuna (6,425m) and the Chimborazo (6,267m).
The Andes have their origin in the Cretaceous period, and the orogenesis occurred as a result of the subduction of the Nazca tectonic plate with the South American plate, generating the uplift of the latter. The same forces that cause the shock of the plates are responsible for the volcanic eruptions and earthquakes that affect the Andean countries.
The plateaus are the elevated territorial extensions located in the interior of the South American subcontinent. The Guianas plateau is a very old crystalline shield, originating in the Precambrian era, which forms an extensive mountain region in northern South America. It is in this region that the culmination of Brazil is located, in northern Amazonas which is the peak of Neblina, with 2,995m of altitude. The Brazilian plateau, on the other hand, is quite extensive, and basically occupies the central-west portion of the country, comprising sedimentary and crystalline terrains and presenting tabular relief (plateaus), mountains and also rounded hills. Patagonia is another prominent plateau, which extends over much of the southern region of Argentina. It is bordered by the Andes to the west, the Colorado River to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. OStrait of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego are at the southern end of Patagonia.
Between the eastern massifs and the western mountain ranges, are located the great plains, constituted by tertiary and quaternary sediments, forming the basins of the great South American rivers. The Amazonian plain, for example, constitutes a large strip of lowland located between the Brazilian and Guyana highlands, which has altitudes of up to 100m above sea level. Not far away, to the north of the Guiana plateau, is the Orinoco basin, which is an extensive flood plain limited by the Venezuelan Andes. Other plains that deserve prominence in the subcontinent are those of Paraná, Chaco, Pampas and Patagonia.