Our South American Neighbors - G. Southworth

South America

[Map] from Our South American Neighbors by G. Southworth

In the past we Americans have known very little about our South American neighbors. Perhaps as a nation we are too apt to pride ourselves on the many different fields in which we hold first rank, and to fail to notice the achievements of others. To be sure we deserve and receive much glory, but that should not dazzle us so that we cannot see the glory which belongs to those about us.

There are one or two reasons which may possibly excuse us for our little knowledge of South America. When we have studied history we have turned, not to South America, but rather to the Old World with its Greece, Italy, Great Britain, Spain, Germany and France, because from the Old World countries came the beliefs, habits and customs from which many of our own were derived.

Then, while we trace our ancestry back to the English, the Scotch, the Dutch, the Germans, the Irish and the French the South Americans are for the most part of Spanish, or Portuguese descent. Because of this difference we have not felt that the people of South America belonged to our family. We have not called them Americans, but Latin Americans, and accordingly we have not felt as closely related to them.

But the day has come when we must recognize the greatness of South America—the greatness of its resources and its peoples—for this vast southern continent has become one of our keenest rivals. Furthermore it offers great possibilities for trade.

Even before the European War the South American countries were rivaling us in trade with England, France, and Germany, where perhaps we thought we had no competition. One of the results of the World War is that the commercial eyes of our country are now turned on South America as never before.

[Illustration] from Our South American Neighbors by G. Southworth


It is interesting to compare the North and South American Continents. Both are triangular in shape, being broad at the north and tapering toward the south. The principal highlands of both follow their east and west coasts with broad plains extending between. However, the greatest river of South America, the Amazon, flows towards the east while our Mississippi flows from north to south.

Unlike our irregular coast line, the coasts of South America. are straight and regular, the western being the most regular coast line of long extent in the whole world. As a result, South America does not begin to have our great number of good natural harbors.

As to climate, the southern continent is just the reverse of ours, due, of course, to its position in relation to the Equator, which runs right across South America. Northern South America is hot and tropical while the southern part is cold and barren. As the greater part of South America lies in the torrid zone where the sun at noon is almost overhead, the continent as a whole is far warmer than North America.

South America is divided into thirteen countries all of which, with the exception of the three Guianas, are republics. The three most prominent are Argentina, Brazil and Chile and because of their initial letters they are often spoken of as the A. B. C. countries of South America.

[Illustration] from Our South American Neighbors by G. Southworth


Most of us think of South America as lying almost due south of us. In truth it. is so much farther east that the meridian of longitude which skirts its western coast runs through both Florida and Lake Erie. This brings many of South America's eastern ports as near to the ports of Europe as to the North American ports, and heretofore the trading nations of Europe have taken the lion's share of South American products. Now, however, the Panama Canal brings all the ports of the western countries of South America nearer our southern and eastern ports by thousands of miles and we are beginning on a new era of trade with all of South America.

To further this trade and to increase our friendship with our South American neighbors, the republics of both continents have formed the Pan-American Union. A beautiful building in Washington is the home of the Union. This building stands as a monument to the good fellowship of the republics of North and South America.

[Illustration] from Our South American Neighbors by G. Southworth


Questions for Review and Study

  1. Why should the people of the United States know about the countries of South America, their history and products?
  2. Compare North and South America as to shape, principal highlands and rivers and coast line.
  3. How do the two continents differ as to climate?
  4. Into how many countries is South America divided, and how many of them are republics?
  5. Name the three leading countries and tell what they are sometimes called and why.
  6. What is the general direction of South America from North America?
  7. How is the Panama Canal helping our trade with South America,
  8. What is the Pan-American Union and why was it formed?