South America is a veritable treasure chest waiting to be explored, full of some of the most fantastic scenery on the planet that is still relatively unknown to most. Boasting many "World's Most" titles, its brilliant landscapes are as diverse as they are mesmerizing, and the only thing warmer than the friendly culture are the lush rainforests.
Latin American cuisine is nearly as diverse as Latin America itself, with each country and region boasting its own specialties. Each regional cuisine is influenced by native foods and spices as well as the influences of other cultures. Mexican food is famously spicy, thanks to the popularity of the indigenous chile pepper which has been a basic ingredient in Mexican cuisine for thousands of years, while Argentinian cuisine is traditionally beef-oriented and cattle have played a major role in Argentinian culture since they were brought to Argentina by Spanish conquistadors in 1536.
Within each country, there are distinct regional specialties as well. Colombia, for example, is incredibly geographically diverse, and its cuisine reflects this diversity: in the city of Medellin and the surrounding mountainous Antioquia region, the typical dish is the hearty bandeja paisa, a substantial and filling meal including sausage, beef, beans, rice, pork rind, an arepa, plantain, fried egg, and a slice of avocado, while in tropical Cartagena, cuisine is solidly Caribbean, with seafood, coconut rice, and spicy flavors dominating the menu. Many countries' cuisine also shows the strong influence of the many different cultures that have left their mark on that nation. Peruvian cuisine is known as one of the biggest examples of fusion cuisine, with Peruvian food giving a veritable history of multicultural influence including indigenous cultures, Spanish colonists, and immigrants from Italy, Germany, China, Japan, and West Africa.
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1. Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon rainforest is the most famous of all Latin American wonders for a good reason: it covers over 2 million square miles and spans nine different countries. With unparalleled biodiversity, the Amazon is home to the largest collection of living plants and animal species in the world. In fact, 10% of all known species on the planet live in the Amazon. An astonishing number of unique species call it home including pink river dolphins, transparent glass frogs, capybaras, giant river otters, jaguars, jaguarundis, tapirs, golden lion tamarinds, sloths, macaws, harpy eagles, and hoatzin birds.