What is the Largest Influence of European Culture in South America?

South America is known for its rich cultural and ethnic diversity. The continent has a deep-rooted history that is influenced by a complex mix of indigenous, African, and European cultures. Among these, it is the European influence that remains the most dominant across the continent. In this piece, we will explore the largest influence of European culture in South America.

The Arrival of the Europeans in South America

The arrival of European explorers in South America dates back to the late 15th century. It was Christopher Columbus, a Genoese explorer, who accidentally discovered the Americas while searching for a sea route to India. These early European explorers came from different countries like Spain, Portugal, England, and France, and each brought their own set of customs and traditions to the continent.

The Spanish Influence in South America

Of all the European influences in South America, it is the Spanish influence that remains most significant. The Spanish colonized most of South America during the 16th century, and their influence can be seen in the continent’s art, music, religion, and language.

The Spanish influence is most apparent in the architecture of many South American cities. Most of the cities were modeled after Spanish colonial towns and cities, which had a distinct layout, with a central plaza and a cathedral or church. Examples of Spanish colonial architecture can be found in Quito, Ecuador, and Cartagena, Colombia.

In South America, Spanish is the most widely spoken language, with millions of people speaking Spanish as their first language. Spanish is also the official language of most South American countries, and many regional dialects have developed as a result of the Spanish influence.

The Portuguese Influence in South America

While the Spanish influence is most apparent in South America, the Portuguese influence cannot be ignored either. Portuguese explorers first arrived in Brazil in the early 16th century and went on to colonize the country. The Portuguese influence is most apparent in Brazilian culture, which has a distinct mix of African, Indigenous, and Portuguese elements.

One of the most significant Portuguese influences in Brazil is the language. Portuguese is the official language of Brazil and is spoken by over 200 million people in the country. The Portuguese also brought their own culinary traditions to Brazil, which had an impact on Brazilian cuisine, with dishes like Feijoada and Bacalhau becoming popular in the country.

The Influence of European Art and Music in South America

European art and music have also had a significant influence on South America. During the colonial period, South American artists were largely inspired by European styles, and many European masterpieces were brought to the continent. This led to a blend of European and indigenous art styles, resulting in unique South American artistic traditions.

European music also played a significant role in the development of South American music. European musical instruments like the guitar and the piano were introduced to South America during the colonial period, and local musicians incorporated these instruments into their music.


In conclusion, the largest influence of European culture in South America is undoubtedly the Spanish influence, which left a lasting impact on the continent’s architecture, language, and religion. However, the Portuguese influence in Brazil and the impact of European art and music cannot be ignored either. Today, South America remains a rich melting pot of cultures, influenced by its history and the mix of diverse traditions that continue to thrive on the continent.

Similar Posts