South America, the southern part of the American double continent, is the
fourth largest continent on earth.
South America is the southern part of the American continent. It is
separated from North America by Central America and extends to Cape Horn. South
America is often seen as a separate continent. The border with North America is
controversial. One can consider the Tehuantepec isthmus or the isthmus of Panama
as the border with North America. The total area of the continent, assuming
the latter border, is 17.8 million km².
The western part of the continent is shaped by the Andes, which extend from
the north to the south of the continent. They form the most important climate
and watershed on the continent. In the eastern part of South America, low
mountain ranges and extensive table and lowlands dominate. The main streams of
the continent and number of countries can also be found on
Climate and vegetation
While the eastern side of the Andes is characterized by a tropical climate
with heavy rainfall, arid conditions prevail on large parts of the west
coast. The climate of the west coast is decisively determined by the cold water
of the Humboldt Current, which prevents precipitation on the coast. It is only
because of the El Niño climate phenomenon that heavy rainfall occurs on the west
coast of South America every few years. Tierra del Fuego in the far south of the
continent already has sub-polar conditions. Argentina, in particular , has many
steppe and savannah landscapes.
Over 350 million people live in South America. The population is largely made
up of the descendants of the Spaniards and Portuguese, as well as the Native
Americans. There are also black Africans, immigrant Asians and non-Iberian
Europeans. The countries of South America are suffering from severe
urbanization. The majority of the population is concentrated in a few large
cities, which often have more than one million inhabitants.
Unasur - Union of South American Nations
Unasur is a bloc made up of the twelve countries of South America. Its
objective is to promote the economic, social, cultural and political integration
of its member countries.
The Unasur (Union of South American Nations) is a pack that
brings together the twelve countries of South America: Argentina, Bolivia,
Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and
Venezuela. The main objective of the agreement is to foster integration between
its member countries.
Background to the creation of Unasur
Although the economic bloc is recent, the idea of integration between the
countries that are part of South America is quite old. Since
the independence of the American colonies, economic integration between South
American countries has been seen as an alternative for survival, an end to
colonial dependence and economic development.
During the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, there were several attempts to
promote this union between countries. The most consistent of these was
Mercosur, created in 1991 with the aim of establishing a free trade
zone between member countries through the reduction of customs borders and the
adoption of a single tariff for common external negotiations.
Although Mercosur has managed to boost the economy of the member countries,
increasing economic integration between them and causing the development of
their individual economies, the bloc has failed to include all the countries of
South America, effectively boosting only the five economies of the its member
countries (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela). In addition, as
it has few members, the recurring crises in the national economies of the member
countries caused the weakening of this economic bloc, which is no longer so
Creation of Unasur
In order to try to unify all the economies of the South American countries
and to promote the cultural, economic, social and environmental development of
South America, in 2004, the creation of a South American Community of Nations
was proposed. In 2008, the twelve countries signed in Brasilia a document
instituting the creation of the bloc, which, from that moment on, became known
as Unasur - Union of South American Nations.
Main objectives of Unasur
Unlike Mercosur, which intended to create a free trade zone between its
member countries, Unasur's main objective, according to the constitutional
treaty of the bloc, is to create an integration space, getting even closer to
the integration model developed by the European Union, as it
tries to develop joint actions that go beyond the economic sphere. According to
the Constitutive Treaty of the Union of South American Nations, among the main
areas of interest of the bloc's activities, the following actions stand out:
- Cultural: Aiming mainly at consolidating a South
American identity and recognizing cultural diversity among peoples;
- Social: Through actions that favor social and human
development, the eradication of poverty, illiteracy and inequality and
universal access to quality education, social security and health services.
- Economic: Based on economic and commercial cooperation,
industrial, productive and energy integration and the development of common
infrastructures, promote economic development and financial integration
among the bloc's member countries.
- Political: Promote actions aimed at the political and
democratic strengthening of the bloc and the defense and security of nations
through citizen participation and the fight against terrorism, corruption,
trafficking (of people, arms and drugs), organized crime and the
proliferation of nuclear weapons.
- Environmental: Develop actions that guarantee the
protection of biodiversity and the reduction of environmental impacts in
- Scientific: Through the development of common policies
and projects for research, innovation and transfer of scientific and
technological knowledge, which reduce the scientific dependence of the
countries that are part of Unasur.
Thus, Unasur emerges as an alternative for integration between the countries
of South America in the face of the current world scenario of the predominance
of multilateral agreements, such as the European Union, the African Union and,
more recently, the Trans-Pacific Association Agreement. Despite
the desire for unity among countries in different areas of society, it remains
to be seen whether the actions taken by this body will achieve results as
satisfactory as those of the European Union or whether differences between
member countries and the constant political and economic crises will cause the
weakening of this bloc, just as it happened with Mercosur. As the creation of
the bloc is still relatively recent, it is not possible to conjecture about its
effects for the countries that integrate it.