A continent of historic nations stretching back over 15000 years
There is no true agreement between historians and anthropologists as to how and when the first civilisations developed in the southern Americas. Historians and researchers like Graham Hancock using celestial alignment have dated some ancient civilisations to 10,500 BC.
The evidence of the Piri Reis map that predates Columbus shows not only the entirety of South America in great detail before any modern Europeans arrived there back in the 1600s. Not only that, the Piri Reis map also shows the land mass of Antarctica in such detail that modern science only discovered in the 1960s.
There is another legend of one of the Hindu Saptarishies travelling to South America some 12,000 or 13,000 years ago. This would help to explain why so much what is labelled as South American mythology is so similar to what is found across the ancient world from Southeast Asia to North Africa.
The ancient Mayan calendar that back 2012 a great many people thought this was a prediction of doomsday because that is the year the calendar ended. However this calendar is almost identical with the Hindu calendar that has also existed in accordance with Hindu timekeeping for more than 10,000 years.
Not only are there ancient sites like Machu Picchu there are still ancient city waiting to be discovered and there is evidence that a large civilisation existed the Amazon basin that was wiped out by disease with the arrival of the first Spanish. We must remember that the Spanish conquest and looting of the region cost more than 100 million lives and yet today apart from Brazil whether language is Portuguese, most of the southern continent speak Spanish.
The great majority of indigenous peoples across Central and South America were decimated by Spanish conquest and European diseases that they had no immunity to. As a consequence, many of the local populations are more European and appearance than indigenous citizens.
Conquered and colonized by the the early Spanish, French and Portuguese and split by the Andes mountain chain, South America presents a range if interesting an exciting adventures for the traveling public but as a region that has been heavily exploited by US Government backed corporations, it is still struggling with third world status and endemic poverty.
From Columbia and Venezuela in the north dense jungles cover much of the land east of the Andes mountains through the Amazon basin into Brazil where forest has been cleared for large scale agriculture. Continuing south through Paraguay and Uruguay into Argentina where forest gives way to extensive grasslands or Savannah before east and west converge in the sub Antarctic Patagonia.
If your going to Brazil, it can be helpful to speak some Portuguese, but the most widely spoken language is Spanish. The entire continent is mostly Catholic and except for a few places very conservative. This means you need to dress modestly, don't look to poor or your will be despised and don't look to rich else you may get robbed or kidnapped.
As the distances are huge, the continent is some 7500kms long x over 5000kms at the widest point, Travel is generally easier by air.