The overwhelming majority of South Americans speak Portuguese or Spanish

SOUTH AMERICA

Most of the population lives near the continent’s western or eastern coasts while the interior and the far south are sparsely populated.

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South America relies less on the export of both manufactured goods and natural resources than the world average; merchandise exports from the continent were 16% of GDP on an exchange rate basis, compared to 25% for the world as a whole. Brazil (the seventh largest economy in the world and the largest in South America) leads in terms of merchandise exports at $251 billion, followed by Venezuela at $93 billion, Chile at $86 billion, and Argentina at $84 billion.

Since 1930, the continent has experienced remarkable growth and diversification in most economic sectors. Most agricultural and livestock products are destined for the domestic market and local consumption. However, the export of agricultural products is essential for the balance of trade in most countries.

The main agrarian crops are export crops, such as soy and wheat. The production of staple foods such as vegetables, corn or beans is large, but focused on domestic consumption. Livestock raising for meat exports is important in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Colombia.

Brazil

Brazil is the largest national economy in Latin America, the world’s ninth largest economy and the eighth largest in purchasing power parity (PPP) according to 2018 estimates. Brazil has a mixed economy with abundant natural resources.

In the production of animal proteins, Brazil is today one of the largest countries in the world. 

Argentina

Benefiting from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, a diversified industrial base, and an export-oriented agricultural sector, the economy of Argentina is Latin America’s third-largest, and the second largest in South America. It has a “very high” rating on the Human Development Index and a relatively high GDP per capita, with a considerable internal market size and a growing share of the high-tech sector.

Economy of South America

In tropical regions the most important crops are coffee, cocoa and bananas, mainly in Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador. Traditionally, the countries producing sugar for export are Peru, Guyana and Suriname, and in Brazil, sugar cane is also used to make ethanol. On the coast of Peru, northeast and south of Brazil, cotton is grown. Fifty percent of the South American surface is covered by forests, but timber industries are small and directed to domestic markets. In recent years, however, transnational companies have been settling in the Amazon to exploit noble timber destined for export. The Pacific coastal waters of South America are the most important for commercial fishing. The anchovy catch reaches thousands of tons, and tuna is also abundant (Peru is a major exporter). The capture of crustaceans is remarkable, particularly in northeastern Brazil and Chile.

Only Brazil and Argentina are part of the G20 (industrial countries), while only Brazil is part of the G8+5 (the most powerful and influential nations in the world). In the tourism sector, a series of negotiations began in 2005 to promote tourism and increase air connections within the region. Punta del Este, Florianópolis and Mar del Plata are among the most important resorts in South America.

2000-present

he most industrialized countries in South America are Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela and Uruguay respectively. 

Future

These countries alone account for more than 75 percent of the region’s economy and add up to a GDP of more than US$3.0 trillion. 

Economic development

Wealth

The main industries are: electronics, textiles, food, automotive, metallurgy, aviation, naval, clothing, beverage, steel, tobacco, timber, chemical, among others.