The Fourth largest continent, South America ranks only 5th in population. South America was the home of many other native American civilization until the first Europeans arrived. Its 12 independent countries which once colonies of Europeans powers, particularly Spain and Portugal, whose languages culture and religion have greatly influenced the region. Many South Americans are farmer who grow their own food. Three-quarters of the continents population live in large, over crowded cities. These countries suffer huge foreign debts. In the early 19th century, the area won its independence, but the new South America countries were poor and unstable. Polarization of rich and poor, over crowded cities, and trade in illegal drugs are a problem in most of the countries, many of which have a reputation for violence. South America's habitats include tropical forests of the north, grasslands of the center and south, tributaries of the river Amazon the Andes Mountain. Today, the nation of south America have a vibrant culture that include local European and African elements. But today, most Americans live in cities.