Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Patagonia, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay
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From a traveller perspective, South America splits into roughly three regions. The more developed Southern countries of Argentina, Uruguay and Chile; with their European feel, political stability and relatively high standards. This is where many start/finish a trip. Then you have the less developed 'Inca and Amazon' countries - Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador/Colombia. Here you have the main concentration of travelers, drawn not only by the world famous sights, but also the significantly lower cost of travel (certainly in Bolivia). And lastly you have Brazil, which although often combined as part of a larger trip (typically Rio and/or the Foz do Iguaçu), needs to be treated separately due to its size.
South America on the whole lacks difficult border crossings and visa headaches (although Americas will run into hefty charges). Bus transport is easy to arrange and there is a very established trail of attractions (often known as the 'Gringo Trail'). This however causes many to 'bite off more than they can chew' in terms of distances to be covered overland, not finding the time or the energy to discover out of the way gems and (although good value on a world level) spending too much [money] in the Southern developed countries and/or (especially) Brazil.
The most 'backpackery' countries are Bolivia and Peru with a clear 'trail' of attractions, 'party' hostels/towns/tours and lots of people to meet. Tour mentality and the type of other travelers (certainly at the budget end) you meet can jade some, certainly in the case of Bolivia where you'll find the best value for money on the continent.
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