The continent of South America, although smaller than North America, is still a vast landmass covering over 6,000,000 square miles. There are 12 independent nations and one foreign held colony occupying the continent, with the nation of Brazil accounting for nearly half of the land area and population. But when it comes to prosperity and the level of economic development that we outsiders view as representing the first world, only Argentina, Uruguay and Chile appear to qualify based upon our own rigid criteria. Brazil is rapidly developing its industrial and agricultural infrastructure, but like México, it still suffers from massive poverty and governmental corruption.
Argentina, Uruguay and Chile have evolved along totally different historical lines, and in each nation the population base is primarily European. In all three countries there is a strong mix of people from the Mediterranean, central and eastern portions of Europe, and the overall population base shows little to no mixing with the indigenous peoples who were here at the time of original colonization. Thus these countries share more of a commonality with the United States and Canada and less with the other countries of Latin America where there is a strong mix of indigenous-European and African ethnic/racial lines.
The physical environments of Argentina, Uruguay and Chile are also similar to many of the landscapes found in North America, as these countries occupy latitudes that extend from the subtropical through mid latitudes into colder reaches that almost border being sub polar. This is atypical for South America, a continent whose remaining countries all share environments that would be classified as tropical.
But like the rest of Latin America, these countries have seen explosive episodes in their history. Revolutions, counter-revolutions and popular uprisings of the masses have led to many episodes of turbulence, as recently as the late 20th century. Only in recent years have democratic principles settled in, allowing each country to concentrate upon its economic development.
This traveler’s companion is designed for those visitors who plan to travel between Buenos Aires and Valparaiso, exploring the magnificent scenery of Argentina and Chile. Uruguay is small and very much like the flat Pampas region around Buenos Aires, but its coastal margins offer a mix of rich historic architecture, vineyards and beautiful beaches. You will find that Argentina and Chile are exceptionally spectacular countries with regard to physical landscapes, and modern countries with regard to their infrastructure. They are the most often visited of South American nations when it comes to being on cruise itineraries.
I trust that this traveler’s companion will be beneficial in helping you to become acquainted with the landscapes, history and cultures of the three countries to be visited. Many cruise lines offer more extended circumnavigations of the South American continent, but it is the route between Buenos Aires and Valparaiso that is the most popular because of its unimaginable beauty and cool summer weather, standing in stark contrast to the rest of the continent.
This is not a typical guidebook such as Fyodor’s or Frommers. You will not find restaurant or hotel recommendations, but rather brief descriptions of the ports of call, showing you their major highlights. The primary focus is to offer you an overall introduction to the lands and peoples you will be seeing.
If you like this introduction, my entire book plus many other traveler’s companion books are all available here.
I would also invite you to join me in 2015 and 2016 during the summer months, as I will be cruising the Baltic Sea with Silversea Cruises.
For more information about joining Dr. Lew Deitch on one of these cruises, contact us.
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