50 things you didn't know about these Latin American countries

  • Facts about South America

Thinking of heading out to South or Central America next summer? Or just want to brush up on your useless knowledge for the day that pub quiz question finally pops up?

Here are some more unusual bits of knowledge that you might not know about some of the best-known South and Central American countries. Because who doesn't love a weird and wonderful fact?

South America


1. The potato originated in Peru - when the Spanish conquered the Inca empire, it was the first thing they exported back to Europe.
2. In Peru, it's traditional to give friends and family yellow underpants on New Year’s Eve.
3. There are 10 million alpacas in the world, and three-quarters of them live in Peru.


4. Officials in Rosario, home town of footballer Lionel Messi, have banned babies being named 'Messi'.
5. The current pope, Pope Francis, once worked as a bar bouncer in Buenos Aires.
6. Argentina was the first country to use fingerprinting in criminal investigations.
7. Infamous revoluntionary Che Guevara was Argentine, not Cuban, as many believe. He was also born in the same hometown as...Lionel Messi.
8. Argentina was the first country in Latin and South America to legalize same-sex marriage.


9. Bolivia has an annual rainfall of over 5 meters, making it one of the wettest countries on the planet.
10. In La Paz, people dressed as zebras help pedestrians cross the road.
11. Bolivia is home to the world's largest butterfly sanctuary, near Santa Cruz.
12. A clock on the National Congress building in the main square of La Paz runs backwards to remind citizens to think differently.
13. Bolivia's infamous 'Death Road' claims the lives of 200-300 people each year.


14. The country is home to the world's first two UNESCO heritage sites - the Galapagos Islands and the city of Quito.
15. Ecuador is the world’s largest exporter of bananas


16. The only national football team in the world that has never lost a game to Brazil? Norway.
17. According to a 2007 report, the Brazilian Amazon is home to over 70 tribes.
18. For the 1932 Olympics, Brazil couldn't afford to send its athletes to Los Angeles so sent them on a ship and made them sell coffee on the way.


19. The world's second biggest swimming pool is in Chile, at the San Alfonso del Mar resort. It's over nine football fields long!
20. Penguins can be found living in the Southern reigons of Chile.
21. The oldest known mummy in the world was found in the Chile's Camarones Valley
22. Divorce was only legalised in Chile in 2005.
23. The official name for the Chilean soccer team is the 'O’Higgins a Patriot of Chilean Rule'.


24. There are more sheep in Uruguay than humans.
25. The first-ever FIFA World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930.
26. Uruguay has the longest national anthem in the world, at six minutes long
27. The country is the first in the world to provide free laptops and Wi-Fi to its school children.


28. Pistol dueling is legal as long as both parties are registered blood donors.
29. It's considered rude to say ‘no’ in Paraguay - instead, they'll say 'thank you' or 'another day'.
30. Instead of ringing a doorbell when visiting someone's home, the people of Paraguay will clap before entering.

Central America


31. There's a rumour that the Caesar salad originated in Mexico - but whether true or not, it definitely had nothing to do with the Roman emperor Julius!
32. It's illegal to play the national anthem incorrectly.
33. The oldest university in North America is The National University of Mexico, founded in 1551
34. Former president Pedro Lascurain held the post for just 26 minutes - the shortest presidency on record.


35. There are more than 30 volcanoes in Guatemala, out of which three are active.
36. In 2010, a massive sinkhole opened up in Guatemala City. It was 60 feet wide and 30 stories deep.


37. Honduras is known as the “Banana Republic” for its status in exporting bananas worldwide.
38. The clock in Comayagua Cathedral is said to be the oldest clock in the Americas.
39. The Honduran currency, the Lempira, is named after an Indian chief that died trying to save his land from the Spanish.


40. Nicaragua has the lowest crime rate of any Central American country.
41. Bianca Jagger was born and raised in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua.
42. In the city of Leon, they don't give directions as 'east and west', but instead, 'upstairs and downstairs', based on the rising and setting of the sun.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

43. Fast food restaurants like McDonalds, Burger King and KFC do home delivery.
44. Costa Rican women keep their maiden name when getting married, instead of taking their husband's surname.
45. The majority of streets in the country are unnamed - instead, directions are given based on landmarks and distances.
46. In Costa Rica, you can find goat's cheese, sour cream and chipotle blueberry flavours of ice cream.
47. It's not uncommon for Costa Ricans to give coffee to babies.

El Salvador

48. El Salvador is smaller than the state of Massachusetts.
49. It's home to the largest airport in all of Central America.
50. The 'quinceanera', celebrating a young girl's 15th birthday, is a popular tradition.

All South America tours

All Central America tours

Images: Shutterstock

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