The Largest City in South America Ranked by Population

Do you know the largest city in South America. Below we list the cities that are South America's largest, either by size, population or both.

It's not surprising that Brazil, South America's largest country has five cities listed. Not all cities are tourist destinations, but each has its own attractions, history and sightseeing opportunities.

Big cities aren't for everyone, but if you like the bright lights and buzz of a thriving metropolis you should check out these cities.

  • 01 of 10
    Aerial view of the buildings of Sao Paulo
    ••• Bambu Productions/Iconica/Getty Images

    Sao Paulo is the largest city in South America by population. This is not surprising as Sao Paulo is Brazil's center of commerce and a huge sprawling metropolis.

    Although Sao Paulo probably isn't on your list of vacation hot-spots it is a thriving city worth checking out. A bit of a concrete jungle, when the day's work is done, the visitors and residents of this city of trade and industry like to play as hard as they work.

  • 02 of 10
    Rio de Janeiro and Sugarloaf Bay
    ••• Rio de Janeiro and Sugarloaf Bay. ArtToday.com

    Rio, a cidade maravilhosa, is spectacularly located, and to live up to the scenery, cariocas and visitors enjoy a vivid lifestyle nestled between fabulous beaches and rainforested hills.

    Rio is most known for its fabulous parties during Carnavale but don't miss out on the upcoming Olympics in Rio - it's guaranteed to be an experience of a lifetime.

  • 03 of 10
    Bogota, seen from Cerro Monserrate
    ••• Bogota, seen from Cerro Monserrate. ©2006 Ron Miller, All Rights Reserved http://www.RonTravel.com

    Bogota is the third largest city in South America by population, which is not surprising as it is Colombia's capital city.

    It is also one of the highest cities by elevation at 2620 m. (8646 ft) in the Andes. It is a modern city that respects its histories so you will see new highrise buildings alongside colonial churches.

    You'll see a bit of everything, fantastic art galleries and museums, universities and gorgeous theaters. But you'll also find shanty towns and neighbourhoods full of graffiti. 

    Bogota is a complicated but interesting city that should not be missed.

     

     

  • 04 of 10

    Buenos Aires

    Buenos Aires Obelisk
    ••• Buenos Aires Obelisk. Roberto Ingledew

    Big. sprawling Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is cosmopolitan and yet retains a neighborhood feel in the barrios. 

    Buenos Aires is known for its dining scene and nightlife, after steak and a bottle of Malbec from Mendoza head out to tango bars and learn to dance.

    Looking for something more active? Don't forget to take in a game of one of the world's most popular soccer teams - Boca Juniors. It's not a cheap experience but worth the ticket price to be alongside passionate locals.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Salvador, Brazil

    Salvador, Bahia
    ••• Salvador, Bahia. ClipArt.com
    An exotic tropical city in a vast country that encompasses everything from deserts to rain forests. Near the equator and nearer the South Atlantic Ocean, Salvador is what Americans are imagining when they think of the place where "The Girl from Ipanema" strolled.
  • 06 of 10
    Caracas Cityscape
    ••• Caracas Cityscape. Javier Pierini / Getty Images

    Venezuela's capital and largest city is the center of commerce, culture, economics and the base for touring the country's attractions, including Angel Falls and the llanos.

  • 07 of 10

    Belo Horizonte, Brazil

    The name of the city means "Beautiful Horizon," and the inland city was developed along the plan of Washington, DC. It is one of the largest cities in Brazil and a commercial and university city with many cultural opportunities.
  • 08 of 10
    Brasilia, Goias
    ••• Brasilia, Goias. Fernando Bueno / Getty Images
    Brazil's capital, Brasilia is a monument to what Brazilians can do and have done. It's a city pointing like an arrow into the future. It's built on a massive scale, with large, innovative buildings, a freedom of spirit and imagination.
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    Guayaquil Rooftops
    ••• Guayaquil Rooftops. ©2006 Ron Miller, All Rights Reserved http://www.RonTravel.com

    Many travelers zip through Guayaquil on their way to the Galapagos. Those who take the time to explore the city and southern coastal Ecuador might be pleasantly surprised. While Ecuador is a small country, Guayaquil has all the benefits of a metropolis like other largest city in South America.

    READ: How to spend 24 hours in Guayaquil

  • 10 of 10
    Botero Museum, Medellin
    ••• (c)BaconIsMagic.ca
    Medellin is the capital of Antioquia department in Colombia and enjoys a temperate climate that gives the city the names of The Land of Eternal Spring and Capital of The Flowers. Colombia's second largest city, Medellin is a principal manufacturing and industrial area, as well as a commercial flower growing region, particularly orchids, but for years was best known as the center of The Colombian Cartels.