Economy of South America

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Economy of South America
Population 410,013,492 (2010)[N 1]
GDP $3.990 trillion (nominal, 2016)
$6.567 trillion (PPP, 2017)
GDP growth
Per capita: 5.5% (2008)
GDP per capita
nominal: US$17,239 (2016)
PPP: US$21,156 (2016)
400,000 (0.011%)
Unemployment 9% (2002)
Top 10% income

All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.

The economy of South America comprises approximately 410 million people living in twelve nations and three territories. It encompasses 6 percent of the world's population.

From the 1930s to 1980s, countries of South America used Import Substitution, an economic policy which replaces foreign businesses as well as imports with domestic production. This was a policy made to produce more development and help grow domestic businesses, which are not competitive with other international industries. However, this policy created a debt crisis in the South America.[1]

South America was falling farther behind the Western countries over the past two centuries. This can be explained by South America´s high concentration on primary commodities as well as the state of the educational system and institutional structure, some of which are still related to its colonial past, others to recent political developments.[2]

It was only from the 1990s when countries in South America switched over to the system of Free-Market economy. This eventually pulled countries in South America out of the debt crisis. Now, major economic activities include agriculture, industry, forestry, and mining.

Economic sectors[edit]


The main agricultural products include: Coffee, soybeans, wheat, rice, corn, sugarcane, cocoa, citrus, beef, bananas and shrimp are also important agricultural products for many countries.[clarification needed]


Brazil has the third-largest manufacturing sector in the Americas. Accounting for 28.5 percent of GDP, Brazil's industries range from automobiles, steel, and petrochemicals to computers, aircraft (Embraer), and consumer durables.


Chile contributes about a third of the world copper production. Brazil is the world’s leading producer of niobium and tantalum, and Peru is the largest silver producer and the second-ranked producer of bismuth and copper. [3]

Economy by country[edit]

Economy of:

Economic history of:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Excludes French Guiana


  1. ^ "Encyclopædia Britannica". South America. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  2. ^ Baten, Jörg (2016). A History of the Global Economy. From 1500 to the Present. Cambridge University Press. p. 153. ISBN 9781107507180. 
  3. ^ [1]