The World and Its People
Brazil and Its Neighbors
Brazil, the largest country in South America, has many different types of landforms and a variety of climate regions. A large basin in the northern half of Brazil is drained by the world's second-longest river, the Amazon. Agriculture, mining, and forestry make up a large part of Brazil's economy. Although the economy has brought prosperity to many Brazilians, others continue to live in poverty. Portugal was the first European country to colonize Brazil, and today Brazilians are of Portuguese, African, Native American, Asian, or mixed ancestry.
The Andes mountain ranges border Argentina on the west. The southern region of Patagonia is home to large sheep ranches. The plains of the pampas provide the resources for farming and cattle ranching. Gauchos, or cowhands, are the national symbol of the country. Argentina is also one of South America's most industrialized countries, manufacturing food products, automobiles, chemicals, textiles, and books.
Uruguay's people are mostly of European descent, and the country's economy relies heavily on sheep and cattle raising. Uruguayans enjoy one of the highest standards of living of any South American country. Paraguay's people are of mixed Guarani and Spanish ancestry. Forestry and farming are the major economic activities here. Paraguay also exports electricity and has the world's largest hydroelectric power generator at the Itaipu Dam on the Paraná River.
Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana make up Caribbean South America. The llanos in Venezuela have many ranches, farms, and oil fields. Venezuela is one of the world's leading oil producers. The climate in the Guianas—made up of Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana—is hot and tropical. Sugarcane grows in Guyana and French Guiana, while rice and bananas flourish in Suriname.