South America is a continent located in Earth's Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. It can also be considered as a subcontinent of the Americas.
South America has an area of 17,840,000 km2. South America ranks fourth in area. Its climate varies greatly from tropical rainforest to high mountain.
The first evidence for the existence of humans in South America dates to about 9000 BCE. The most known group, the Inca civilization, dominated the Andes region from 1438 to 1533. Inca civilization was distinct and highly developed. Inca rule extended to nearly a hundred linguistic or ethnic communities, some 9 to 14 million people connected by a 25,000 km road system. Cities were built with precise, unmatched stonework, constructed over many levels of mountain terrain. Terrace farming was a useful form of agriculture.
Beginning in the 1530s, the people and natural resources of South America were repeatedly exploited by foreign conquerors, first from Spain and later from Portugal. These competing colonial nations claimed the land and resources as their own and divided it into colonies.
The Spanish American wars of independence took place during the early 19th century, eventually ending European rule of South America.
Revolutionary movements and right-wing military dictatorships became common after Earth's World War II, but in the 1980s, a wave of democratization came through the continent, and democratic rule became widespread .