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Latin America by Avanti Destinations

Recently, sophisticated travelers have taken a keen interest in the land down under—no, not Australia, but the land down under the United States—Latin America. Defining Latin America is difficult at best. But Wikipedia does a good job.

Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages (i.e., those derived from Latin) – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken.

In a nutshell, it encompasses parts of the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America except Belize, Guyana, and French Guyana. It encompasses nearly 15% of the earth’s land mass with 7.8 million square miles. Toss in 580 million people and there is a lot of exploring to do!

Be sure to look at the hand selected Avanti Destinations trips for your clients after the article.

 

60-Second Geography

Latin America

Tourism is key to the economy of several Latin American countries. Mexico leads the popularity pack with more than 21.4 million visitors per year; followed by Brazil, with 5.0 million; Argentina, with 4.6 million; Dominican Republic, with 4.0 million; Puerto Rico, with 3.7 million and Costa Rica with 2.0 million. 

The top destinations in the region include Cancun, Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza, Cartagena de Indias, Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Margarita Island, São Paulo, Punta del Este, Santo Domingo, San Juan, La Habana, Panama City, Iguazu Falls, Puerto Vallarta, Poás Volcano National Park, Punta Cana, Viña del Mar, Mexico City, Quito, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Lima, Cuzco and Patagonia.

  • Galapagos Archipelago. Called the world’s greatest living laboratory, these barren islands in the middle of two cold currents support a fantastic array of wildlife that has developed into new forms such as the marine iguana and the flightless cormorant, huge sea turtles, plus sea lions and penguins far from their original habitats.
  • Angel Falls. The rocks and cliffs forming the tepuis were ancient long before the continent of South America separated from Africa. Now they are home to dense rain forests, clouds of mist and huge sandstone formations. From the top of one tepui, an unbroken stream of water takes fourteen seconds to fall to the base.
  • Amazon.  Carving a huge channel through a rainforest which is home to more wildlife species than anywhere else on earth, the Amazon river runs over 4000 miles from its origins to the Atlantic where in one second, it pours more than 55 million gallons of water into the sea. The Amazon basin covers more than two-fifths of South America’s land mass.
  • Lake Titicaca. This high altitude lake, over 12,000 feet high and about 900 feet deep, is the second largest lake in South America. With an area about 3200 square feet, 122 miles long with an average width of 35 miles, with 36 islands, the lake is the highest navigable lake in the world.
  • Atacama Desert. Known erroneously as the driest desert on earth, this narrow strip of coastal desert stretches east to the Andes, and is a mix of lava flows, salt basins, hot springs and sand covering about 600 miles south of Chile’s border with Peru. The barren and unforgiving terrain serves as practice grounds for space exploration.
  • Andes.  The Andes are a young mountain system, ranging 4500 miles from the northern coasts to the tip of Tierra del Fuego. Live volcanoes dot the stretch, and form part of the Pacific Rim of Fire. In Peru and Bolivia, the Andes widen into several ranges separated by valleys supporting farms and cities. The greatest peak is Aconcagua on the border of Argentina and Chile.
  • Lake District / Patagonia. Patagonia in Argentina and Chile is home to great glaciers, volcanoes, glacier fed lakes, and fast rushing rivers. Majestic volcanoes like Osorno in Chile, Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina and the fantastic fjords of Chile are all reminders of the wonders of nature.
  • Tierra del Fuego. 28,470 square miles in size, separated from the southern tip of the South American mainland by the Strait of Magellan, Tierra del Fuego is cold, windy and wildly scenic.
  • Iguazu Falls. Multiple falls, formed as the Parana River drops between 197 and 262 feet into the river below, become almost one continuous flow of water when the river runs high.
  • Lake Maracaibo. An inlet from the Caribbean Sea, at about 100 miles long and 75 miles wide, this is the largest lake in South America. Lake Maracaibo was formed from mud deposits millions of years ago and now boasts huge petroleum deposits.
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