South American Facts



  • South America has a population of a little over 345 million people.
  • Before its conquest by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 16th century, South America was home to many native peoples.
  • There are native villages in the Andes with only one race, and a few native tribes in the Amazon rainforest who have had little contact with the outside world.
  • The main population groups now are American Indians, whites, blacks (whose ancestors were brought as slaves) and people of mixed race.
  • Most people in Latin America are mixed race.
  • The largest mixed race groups are mestizos (people with both American Indian and white ancestors) and mulattoes (people with black and white ancestors).
  • Mestizos are the majority in countries such as Paraguay and Venezuela. Mulattoes are the majority in Brazil.
  • The Europeans who came to South America were mostly Spanish and Portuguese, so nearly two-thirds of South Americans speak Spanish.
  • Many American Indians speak their own languages.
  • Quechua is a native language, which Peru has made its official language along with Spanish.
  • In the Amazon, small tribes such as the Matses still survive as they have done for thousands of years.