11 Islands in South America

Written by Megan Martin
Published: June 18, 2022
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The Amazon River is home to many of the islands of South America.

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When it comes to islands, South America has no shortage of them. Made up of around a dozen countries, you can find tens of thousands of islands in South America. Chile alone has 43,471 islands

In this article, we’ll explore 11 of the most interesting islands in South America – one from each of 11 countries. Ready to learn more? Keep reading!

Argentina: Isla Apipé Grande

Argentina is home to many different bodies of waters – as well as many islands.

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This Argentina island is found in the Paraná River, right on the border of Argentine and Paraguay. The Isla Apipé Grande is around 15.5 miles (or 25 kilometers) across – the Big Island of Hawaii is around 93 miles across, for reference. This size, however, can fluctuate depending on the weather, season, and how high the river is at the time. 

Some sources consider the Isla Apipé Grande to be the largest enclave in the world. An enclave is an area or territory of one country that is completely surrounded by a different country. For the Isla Apipé Grande, it is surrounded by Paraguay. 

Bolivia: Isla del Sol

The Isla del Sol is found in Lake Titicaca.

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The Isla del Sol, or the Island of the Sun, is an island in Bolivia. Unlike other islands that you may be more familiar with, the Isla del Sol isn’t found in an ocean or river. Instead, it’s found in Lake Titicaca. 

This island in South America is rich in both history and wildlife. The rough terrain is perfect for eucalyptus trees, and the island is named for the many ruins found here. These ruins can date back to the time of the Inca period around six centuries ago. They believed this island to be where their sun god was born, which is where its name comes from. Some of the ruins you can find here include Titi Qala, Chinkana, Q’asa Pata, and Pillkukayna

Brazil: Ilha do Marajo

The water buffalo or domestic Asian water buffalo in water
Marajo is home to water buffalo.

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Brazil’s Ilha do Marajo, also known just as Marajo, is a river island in Brazil. It’s found in an estuary where the Amazon meets the Atlantic ocean. This creates a unique island in South America with diverse wildlife. Ilha do Marajo is home to everything from thick mangrove forests to sandy beaches. It’s most known for its farms, however. It also supports a healthy population of water buffalo!

With a size of around 183 miles (295 kilometers) long, Ilha do Marajo is no small island. It’s around double that of Hawaii’s Big Island, and it’s around the same size as Switzerland. Ilha do Marajo is actually one of the largest islands in the entire world, as well as the second-largest island in South America.  

Chile: Isla de Pascua

Easter island
The ancient moai on Isla de Pascua were made hundreds of years ago.

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Home to tens of thousands of islands, it can be hard to pick just one to focus on in Chile. However, few islands in the world are as iconic as the Isla de Pascua – more commonly known as Easter Island. 

Historically, the Isla de Pascua was home to the Rapa Nui people. This is the same civilization that built the thousands of statues over the island known as ma’oi. The island became a part of Chile in 1888, and the Rapa Nui people were given citizenship in Chile nearly a hundred years later. 

As far as inhabited islands go, the Isla de Pascua is considered the most remote. The nearest island is 1,289 miles away, and it only had a population of around 50 people back in 2013. Although it is considered a part of Chile, it’s 2,182 miles away from the continental region of the country. 

The Isla de Pascua is also known for the Polynesian rat, or the kiore to the Māori people. Many believe that this little rodent played a hand in the island’s gradual deforestation. 

Colombia: La Corota Island

Corota island panoramic and Cocha lake
La Corota Island panoramic and Laguna de la Cocha.

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La Corota Island, or Isla de la Corota, is home to the Isla de La Corota Fauna and Flora Sanctuary. This is the smallest national park in all of Colombia! Like the Isla del Sol, La Corota Island is a lake island, found in the Laguna de la Cocha. 

While it may seem surprising that such a small island is so protected, La Corota Island is actually the second most biodiverse island in the entire world. Over 1,500 species of plants can be found on the island, including over three dozen species of orchids. On top of this, you can find hundreds of species of birds and a variety of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. There are two hiking trails that help show off everything this island in South America has to offer: El Quiche Trail and La Totora Trail. 

Ecuador: Galápagos Islands

goldfinch perched on a branch with flowers
Naming a finch Darwin is in relation to Charles Darwin and his observations while traveling.

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Just like Isla de Pascua, the Galápagos Islands are some of the most well-known islands in the world. It’s also one of the most well-known islands in South America. The Galápagos Islands is where Charles Darwin begin his studies in finches and other animals, which lead to the development of the theory of evolution. 

There are 19 different islands apart of the archipelago that is the Galápagos Island. These islands in South America are located a little over 600 miles off the shores of Ecudaor. Typically, you can only reach the islands in South America by plane.

Guyana: Wakenaam

Essequibo river trip Views around Guyana's Interior and rainforest
There are nearly 400 islands in the Essequibo River of Guyana.

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Wakenaam is one of nearly 400 islands in the Essequibo River of Guyana. Due to hundreds of years of settlement, mostly people with a lineage tracing back to Africa and India make up the island’s 4000-person population. Wakenaam’s name, however, is Dutch.

Along with sharing the rich biodiversity of the mainland of Guyana, Wakenaam is also rich in culture and agriculture.

Paraguay: Yacyretá Island

Bearded Tachuri
The Bearded Tachuri is one of the birds you may see on Yacyretá Island.

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Like the Isla Apipé Grande, Yacyretá Island is located in the Paraná River. In fact, this island is less than 18 miles away from the Isla Apipé Grande, although it’s in an entirely different country. 

One of the most iconic features of Yacyretá Island is the white sand dunes its shores boast. Deeper on the island, you can find flooded natural grasslands and humid forests that are rich with rare species. Some of the birds you may be lucky enough to encounter here include the

  • Sharp-tailed tyrant
  • Black-masked finch
  • Ochre-breasted pipit
  • Bearded tachuri
  • Lesser grassfinch. 

Because of the rare bird species here, this island in South America is a popular birding location. 

Peru: Taquile Island

Two indigenous Quechua women in traditional clothes walking down the path to the harbor of Isla Taquile (Taquile Island) with the Titicaca Lake in the background, Peru.
Two indigenous Quechua women in traditional clothes walking down the path to the harbor of Isla Taquile (Taquile Island) with the Titicaca Lake in the background, Peru.

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As one of the largest lakes in the world, it’s no surprise that Lake Titicaca is home to another amazing island in South America. Taquile Island is just a short distance away from the Isla del Sol in Bolivia. This island can reach heights of 13,287 feet above sea level, and it has a rich local culture.

The people of Taquile Island are known as Taquileños. Although the most common language of Peru is Spanish, Quechua is the second most common. The Taquileños people speak a dialect of this language known as Puno Quechua. 

Tequile Island also boasts a rich history and niche of textile work. Here, only the men knit, and it’s a practice that begins in their early childhood. Women spin and dye the wool used for knitting, as well as weaving. One of the most important pieces of clothing in the culture of Taquile Island is the chumpi. This is a unique belt that helps tells stories about local culture and personal history. 

Suriname: Kwana Island

Dugout canoe navigating the Brokopondo reservoir, Suriname.
Dugout canoe navigating the Brokopondo reservoir, Suriname.

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Kwana Island is an island in the Brokopondo Reservoir of Suriname. A coastal paradise made complete by white sand and palm trees, this island in South America has become a popular tourist spot.

The earliest inhabitants of the island named Kwana Island for a local species of fish found in the surrounding Reservoir. You can also find many other fish species here, including bream. 

Uruguay: Isla de las Gaviotas

Birds with long necks: Great Egret
The Isla de las Gaviotas is home to many different species of egret.

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The Isla de las Gaviotas, also known as Seagulls Island, is actually an islet. Islets aren’t too different than islands – they’re just small. While this may be true of the Isla de las Gaviotas, it has a rich wilderness full of diverse bird species. In fact, many consider it to be a birder’s paradise.

Here, you can find several species of egret, the vibrant magnificent frigatebird, the great kiskadee, and dozens of others. 

Venezuela: La Blanquilla Island

Best farm animals
You can find feral goats on this island in South America.

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Last but certainly not least, La Blanquilla Island is a triangular island in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. Named for its white shores, it’s actually a popular spot for divers. One of the most notable underwater locations is the island’s coral reef, which features a rare black coral.

However, the island itself also packs interesting surprises. This includes a variety of wildlife, from cacti to iguanas to even feral donkeys and goats.

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About the Author

I'm a content writer with almost five years of experience. I recently graduated from Wingate University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a double minor in biology and professional and technical writing. The American kestrel is my favorite animal, but I also like sharks and alligators. In my free time, I like to write creative fiction, watch documentaries, and explore nature.