How Well Do You Know These Latin American Countries?

Zoe Samuel

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Latin America is so named because it is where the Romance languages of Spanish, French and Portuguese are spoken. These languages derive from Latin, and the name has carried over for centuries. That means all the nations of Central and South America are included, covering both the northern and southern hemispheres.

Latin American history is generally known quite poorly by people from outside the region. Partly this is due to the eurocentric way that world history is often taught, where the Americas are written of as though they were empty continents simply waiting to be populated by the arriving Conquistadors. However, there were great civilizations in these areas before anyone from Europe arrived, including the Inca, Olmec, Aztec and Maya. They built great pyramids and roads that were thousands of miles long and thoroughly policed. They had sophisticated farming techniques designed to maximize high altitude, steep or arid conditions. They mined gold and silver from the mountains around them. They enjoyed rich cultural traditions and had sophisticated administrations. The nations we know today are a blend of these civilizations and those that arrived and displaced but could not erase them. Let's see how much you know about their modern descendants!

This country has the longest coastline and largest population in South America, as well as the most greenery.

Brazil is the biggest country in South America, with the massive Amazon rainforest and river sustaining its population of over 200m.

This country is home to some of the finest Mayan ruins, a city that was once an Aztec capital, and also sinkholes known as "cenotes" that contain mysterious and beautiful swimming holes.

The cenotes are one of the wonderful features of Mexico. Similarly, Mayan ruins are easily visited on the Yucatan peninsula. Mexico City, the capital, was once Tenochtitlan, the seat of Aztec power.

This country shares a border with Panama and is the second most biodiverse in the world.

Colombia is also the rainiest country, thanks to its dense jungles.

This country contains the highest mountain in South America, Aconcagua, and is noted for its excellent horses.

Argentina is a large country in the southeast of South America. It is noted for its horse culture, which spreads across its extensive highlands and plains.

This is the most-spoken indigenous language in South America.

It is spoken by eight million people in a variety of countries.

This country is home to Machu Picchu, the Andes mountains, and its capital of Lima.

Peru has many pre-Columbian sites like Machu Picchu that are well preserved, as well as textile, art and other traditions.

This country contains Angel Falls, the tallest uninterrupted fall in the world, and is currently suffering hyperinflation and very bad government.

Poor Venezuela has seen better days, as low oil prices and terrible corruption have torn the country apart. Normally it can be a prosperous and stable place.

This country was basically created by America, and is home to the most important trade route in the western hemisphere.

Panama is a small country that came into being at the behest of the USA as a way of controlling the Panama Canal, the most important trade route in the world after the Suez Canal.

One of two landlocked countries in South America, this country's name translates to roughly "the river where men live and are ornate with crowns of various feathers".

Paraguay has been independent since 1811 and is growing fast despite some major wars in its history.

This famous body of water straddles the border of Bolivia and Peru.

This important body of water is in two countries. It is also a major Incan site.

This country is the largest outermost region of the European Union, being a French protectorate.

French Guiana is not in the Schengen free movement zone but it is technically part of France and thus the EU!

This country is the smallest in South America and has one of the least dense populations on the planet.

Suriname is on the north coast of South America and is among the most sparsely populated nations in the world.

This country is home to the Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth, and lays claim to parts of Antarctica.

Chile has a variety of interesting territorial features within a relatively small space - that is, the country is huge, but it changes topography, climate and geography really darn fast as you cross it.

This unincorporated territory isn't quite a US state, but it's not independent either.

Puerto Rico has dabbled with the idea of statehood. After Hurricane Maria, its already struggling economy was severely damaged and the government's response was lackluster. For some, this is an argument against statehood within a nation that does not value Puerto Rico. However, others see it as a function of Puerto Rico's lack of representation. Puerto Ricans are Americans and many of them join the military and serve their country.

This country on the island of Hispaniola suffered greatly from colonization by two empires, but fought back and freed itself in 1804.

A newly free Haiti defeated the French invaders when they tried to re-colonize it. These days, the country is still recovering from a terrible earthquake in the last decade.

This formerly Mayan country has a booming textile industry, loads of coffee and sugar cane, and a largely agricultural economy.

Honduras' agricultural economy exposes it to natural disasters and limits growth, so a move has been made in the last couple decades to diversify and modernize into new industries.

This country has the smallest population of any Latin American country, and is a French protectorate.

St. Bart's is a popular tourist destination where people pay good money to spend a few days in what is essentially paradise.

This country is in South America but part of is north of Panama, which is in Central America.

It's a quirk of the way the land is shaped that Colombia has a small section north of a little part of Panama.

This Latin American country is the closest to the USA, at only 93 miles, and is Spanish speaking.

Cuba has suffered from dictatorship but has benefited from a very enterprising stance as a weaker country very near an unfriendly world power.

The Amazon flows through six countries. Which of these is not one of them?

The Amazon is in the north half of the continent, though it has tributaries all over the place - many thousands of them in all.

This country has no standing army, spends 50% more than the global average on education, and recently diversified its economy.

Costa Rica is a stable democracy in a region beset by authoritarians. It is an example to many nations!

This country was mostly settled by the Cuzcatlecs and was later part of the Olmec and then Mexican Empires.

El Salvador on the Pacific coast suffers from high poverty but also enjoys great beauty and very dense jungle.

This landlocked country is home to the tallest statue in South America, as well as the highest capital city.

The tallest statue is not Christ the Redeemer in Rio in Brazil: it's Virgen de la Paz, which is even bigger!

This country was part of the Incan Empire, it's the number one exporter of bananas in the world, and includes the Galapagos islands.

Ecuador means "equator," because that is where it is! It used to be under Spanish control.

This Venezuelan body of water is misleadingly named.

It's not actually a lake, more of an estuary, but it's in Venezuela either way!

This country has the largest forested area by percentage and Dutch is the official language of the government.

Over 94% of Suriname is forested. Although Dutch is the language used officially, a number of local languages are used commonly. It is the only place outside of Europe where Dutch is spoken by a majority of the population.

Formerly known as Karukera or "Land of the Beautiful Waters," this country is French-ruled and in the Leeward Islands.

Guadeloupe is still under French dominance. It was British for a while and slavery was ended there, but Napoleon restored it when the French took over again.

This country's capital is Montevideo, and its name means "river of the painted birds".

Uruguay shares a river border with Argentina and is mostly based around the Uruguay and La Plata rivers.

This country is a biodiversity hotspot, a democracy, and a part of the Mayan Empire.

Guatemala used to suffer from dictatorship, but now it is a democracy and growing fast.

This country is 2,000 miles long but also includes Easter Island, 2,300 miles into the Pacific.

Chile has a very long coastline, but it also has a very long reach into the middle of the Pacific. The sovereignty of Easter Island may be up for debate.

This country, independent since 1824, contains the oldest signs of human habitation in South America, and its GDP has an astonishing annual growth rate of 5.9%.

There has clearly been human life in South America since at least 9000 BC. Peru is home to some of its oldest civilizations. It is an emerging market.

This country noted for its floral species is home to the world's smallest orchid.

It's called the minuscule orchid and it is only 2.1mm wide. We mentioned Ecuador earlier but we just love the flowers so much, we had to revisit it.

This country is half of the island of Hispaniola and its native residents are the Taino people, who Columbus personally met when he landed.

Columbus was initially very impressed by the Taino and wrote about how beautiful, smart and civilized they were. Once he realized he wanted to enslave them, however, magically he decided they were ugly, stupid and barbaric, and sadly that image was conveyed home to justify the barbarity perpetrated on them. The population dropped by about 95% at his hands.

This French protectorate's name is a corruption of "island of flowers," and it has a stunningly consistent climate and three major mountains.

Martinique is a beautiful island near Dominica and is under French control.

This country's capital is Caracas, and it is independent, though it was once part of Gran Colombia.

Venezuela is a biodiversity hotspot with verdant jungles. It is the 33rd largest country in the world.

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes