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Unique Facts- South America

Basic Geography

South America is a sub-continent crossed by the equator, with most of its area in the Southern Hemisphere. South America is situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. The classification of its geographic location is subject of dispute: in all non-English speaking regions of the world, America is a continent and North, Central and South America are its subcontinents. In English-speaking regions, North and South America are considered to be continents and their union is referred to as the supercontinent of America. The classification given to South America, as a subcontinent in a continent or a continent in a supercontinent, depends entirely on regional preferences. It became attached to North America only recently (geologically speaking) with the formation of the Isthmus of Panama some 3 million years ago, which resulted in the Great American Interchange. The Andes, likewise a comparatively young and seismically restless mountain range, run down the western edge of the continent; the land to the east of the Andes is largely tropical rain forest, the vast Amazon River basin.

South America ranks fourth in area and in population, after Eurasia, Africa, and North America.

The region of South America also includes various islands, most of which belong to countries on the continent. The Caribbean territories are grouped with North America. The South American nations that border the Caribbean Sea – including Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana – are also known as Caribbean South America.

Central America is the region of North America located between the southern border of Mexico and the northwest border of Colombia, in South America. Some geographers classify Central America as a large isthmus, and in this geographic sense it sometimes includes the portion of Mexico east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, namely the Mexican states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo. However, Central America is much more commonly understood to correspond with the nations between Mexico and Colombia.

The geology of Central America is active, with volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occurring from time to time. In 1931 and 1972 earthquakes devastated Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. Fertile soils from weathered volcanic lavas have made it possible to sustain dense populations in the agriculturally productive highland areas.

Central America thus has an area of about 540,000 km² (208,500 square miles), and a width between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea ranging from about 560 km to about 50 km (350 miles to about 30 miles).

The related term Mesoamerica (occasionally also called "Middle America") is used in English mostly restricted to referring to the Pre-Columbian Native American cultures of this region, which extended north into central Mexico.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "South America".