*** national boys clothes / ropa de niņos: South America Sud America

South America / Sud America

South America Andes
Figure 1.--Here we see an Andean boy wearing a poncho and playing a flute. We are not sure about the country, but could be Ecuador, Peru, or Bolivia. The image is from the "Family of Man" Photographic Exhibition. The photograph was taken March 11, 1956. The photographer was Eugene Harris.

South America is the continent with the most extrme climatic variations, from tropical rain forests in the north to winswept, cold Tierra del Fuego in the south. And in between is the vast Amazonian basin, the towering Andes, the Chaco, Pampas and Atacama desert. Such diversity of course affects clothing. The culture of the region is dominated by Native Americans and the Portugese-Spanish colonial era. Africans were brought to South Ameruica as slaves, primarily to Brazil. The cultural mix and more modern influences varied from country to country. The Catholic Church was a common cultural minfluence. A major factor has been the ecomomic failure of most of the South American countries resulting in poverty which meant that South Americans did not have the disposal income permitting large expendictures for clothing. Here the cause was the colonial system was based on explotation of Native Americans. This basic dymamic was compounded by the chaotic politics after independemce through much of the 19th century and early-and mid-19th century. Desptinctive styles were observable in the various countries through the mid-20th century, although the urban elites dressed basically alike following European fashion trends. The infatuation of elites with socialism as the romance of communist Revolution caused further problems. A major poroblem has been a very weak public education system. Some countries had school uniforms. By the end of the 20th century, democracy combined with free-market capitalist reforms had significantly increased personal income in several countries, most importantly Brazil. The dominant styles throughout the region are American-style casual fashions, the same fashions that have become standard throughout Europe.


Readers can look up the South American country pages by region. The 13 countries of South America can be divided into several distinct regions. The regions vary greatly in topography, altitude, climate, flora and fauna, and precipitation. The individual country borders overlap several regions with several countries split between the regions. The most detinctive is the Andean region which dominates the west or Pacific coast. The Andes streach from central Venezuela along the Pacific coast of the Continent (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile) south to Tierra del Fuego. This was the core of Spanish influence. The Bolivian Altiplano is part of the Andes. Not only did the Conquistadores find Inca gold, but later Spanish colonists would find a mountain virtually maid of silver in Bolivia. It would fund the entire Spanish Empire and make Spain for a time an European superpower. The Andes is one of the great mountain ranges of the earth with towering snow covered peaks even at the equator. It gave rise to the Inca Empire a great civilization that rose not in river vallys, but amist great mountains. The Inca would conquer much, but not all of the Andes. The Inca achieved impressive crop yields in the Andes. Within their zone of control was the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth. Eastern South America is more diverse. The heart of the continent is the Amazonian basin, one of earth's richest biological treasure troves. It is primarily dominated by Brazil, the former Portuguese colony. Brazil covers about half the Continent. The tropical Guianas (Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana) comprise the northeast corner of the Caribbean, the one area not dominated by Portugal or Spain. Venezuela is a split country. The north is Andean. The Llanos in the south and eastern lowlands drained by the IOrionoco is more connected with the the Guianas. There are also planes and rolling hills south of the Amazon, including the Chaco (Bolivia and Paraguay) and the Pampas (Uruguay and Argentina). The area is cut by the Brazilian Higlands, with the Amazon to the north and the São Francisco to the south. The area includes vast grasslands. The Pampas in Argentina is some of the most fertile agricultural lands in the Continent.

Alphabetical Listing

Readers can also look up the various countries of South America alphabetically. Sooth nAmeric is dominated by the ABC countries: Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Argentina amnd Brazil are the two lrgest countries. Chile is a relatively small country, but has played a major role in South American history. Uruguay developed between the Continent's two superpowers. Peru was the center of both the Inca Empire and the Spanish colonial administration. Colombia spnned the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Venezuela proved to be a regional backwater, but oil discoveries offered economic opportunities.


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Created: 7:02 AM 3/10/2011
Last updated: 5:58 AM 8/24/2012