Volunteering In South America
South America’s land mass is the fourth largest in the world, and over the great expanse of land you’ll find everything from glaciers, to beaches, to mountains to rainforests. Twelve countries (and one dependency) make up the continent: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, Suriname, Guyana and Venezuela (French Guiana is controlled by the French Government). The peoples of South America have been heavily influenced by Spanish, Portuguese, British and French colonialism but the ancient traditions are still present in so much of day to day life.
There is much economic disparity in South America, and even leaders in development like Chile and Brazil have large populations of people living in poverty. Financial resources are unevenly distributed, and this takes it toll on the poor above all others.
The need for volunteers to bridge the gaps between resources and necessity is ever present, even in countries those countries who are making headlines for their economic success. Currently, most volunteer attention is focused poorer countries like Bolivia and Colombia, which boast low GDPs and quality of life, and those countries bordering the Amazon are popular with environmentalists.
Learn about traveling to Argentina on FrugalMonkey, which has Argentina travel information including city profiles, visa requirements, and more.
Population & Diversity
South America boasts a very high and diverse native population, as well as diversity in people of European settlers. Northern countries like Colombia and Peru have higher native Indian populations, while southern countries boast more European ancestry. Chile has a high German-descendant population, in addition to those of mixed Spanish ancestry, and native Mapuche heritage. Brazil is more racially mixed, with large Portuguese, Dutch and African descendant populations. Paraguay and Uruguay are much more homogenous, with the large majority being their population being of mixed Spanish Indian descent (1/4 of Uruguay’s population is actually of Italian descent).
The South American Climate
Much of South American’s climate is temperate and seasonal, especially along the coasts in the central part of the continent, where temperatures ranges vary greatly. In Bolivia and Paraguay, temperatures range from below zero to 23º, with the coldest temperatures occurring during the October-March rainy season.
Farther north, in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, average temperatures are higher. Chile’s snakelike shape make temperature ranges much greater, and combined with its proximity to the Andes and glacial areas of Patagonia, average temperatures for the country are difficult to calculate. Brazil’s rainforest and coastline creates a more tropical and humid climate, with temperatures hovering between 20 º-25 º.