Brazil, the largest country in South America, has many different types of landforms and a variety of climate regions. A large basin in the northern half of Brazil is drained by the world's second-longest river, the Amazon. Agriculture, mining, and forestry make up a large part of Brazil's economy. Although the economy has brought prosperity to many Brazilians, others continue to live in poverty. Portugal was the first European country to colonize Brazil, and today Brazilians are of European, African, Native American, Asian, or mixed ancestry.
The Andes mountain ranges border Argentina on the west. The Patagonian Plateau, the plains of the pampas, and the forests of Gran Chaco provide the resources for farming and ranching. Argentina is also one of South America's most industrialized countries, manufacturing food products, automobiles, chemicals, textiles, and books.
Uruguay's people are mostly of European descent, and the country's economy relies heavily on sheep and cattle raising. Uruguayans enjoy one of the highest standards of living of any South American country. Paraguay, however, has yet to recover from a devastating war that occurred in the 1860s. Paraguay exports electricity and has the world's largest hydroelectric power generator at the Itaipu Dam on the Paraná River.
Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana make up Caribbean South America. The llanos in Venezuela have many ranches, farms, and oil fields. Venezuela is one of the world's leading oil producers. The climate in the Guianasmade up of Guyana, Suriname, and French Guianais hot and tropical. Sugarcane grows in Guyana and French Guiana, while rice and bananas flourish in Suriname.