The Land below the Equator

South America stretches all the way from the equator to the South Pole. It is home to the largest rainforest on the planet and some of the highest, most treacherous mountains as well. Volcanoes dot the western boundary of South America, and rolling beaches are found on the eastern coast.

South America is surrounded by water. The Atlantic Ocean forms the eastern boundary and the Pacific Ocean forms the western boundary. Part of the northern boundary is formed with Central America while the rest is bounded by the Caribbean Sea. South America is part of the region that historians refer to as the New World. It was first mapped by Europeans in 1507 as explorers came to realize that this area was not part of North or Central America.

Cape Horn Island is the southernmost spot of South America. It is known for severe winds, harsh weather, and hazardous conditions. In the past, sailors and traders trying to reach the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic had to travel the dangerous path around Cape Horn. They would often encounter williwaw winds. This was the only path around South America until the Panama Canal opened in 1914. The Panama Canal provided shippers, sailors, and traders a passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

WILLIWAW: Williwaw is the name for the winds that sometimes come up from nowhere around the tip of South America and in other regions. Williwaw winds are sudden and are created by wind howling down from mountains to the ocean. The cold air from the snow-covered mountains rushes down and often knocks boats on their side.

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