A digital land cover map of South America has been produced using remotely sensed satellite data acquired between 1995 and the year 2000. The mapping scale is defined by the 1 km spatial resolution of the map grid-cell. In order to realize the product, different sources of satellite data were used, each source providing either a particular parameter of land cover characteristic required by the legend, or mapping a particular land cover class. The map legend is designed both to fit requirements for regional climate modelling and for studies on land cover change. The legend is also compatible with a wider, global, land cover mapping exercise, which seeks to characterize the world's land surface for the year 2000. As a first step, the humid forest domain has been validated using a sample of high-resolution satellite images. The map demonstrates both the major incursions of agriculture into the remaining forest domains and the extensive areas of agriculture, which now dominate South America's grasslands.