South America, the fourth largest of the earth's seven continents (after Asia, Africa, and North America), occupying about 17,819,100 sq km (about 6,880,000 sq mi), or about 12 percent of the earth's land surface. It lies astride the equator and tropic of Capricorn and is joined by the Isthmus of Panama, on the north, to Central and North America. The continent extends about 7400 km (about 4600 mi) from the Caribbean Sea on the north to Cape Horn on the south, and its maximum width, between Ponta do Seixas, on Brazil's Atlantic coast, and Punta Pariñas, on Peru's Pacific coast, is about 5160 km (about 3210 mi).
"South America," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2000. © 1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.