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Amazon Web Services has added an eighth geographic region to its global public-cloud platform. The new region is in South America (first one on the continent), and the data centers supporting it are located in the Sao Paolo region.

The region enables companies in South America and companies elsewhere that have clients in South America, run applications in data centers located there. This cuts down the latency that exists when applications are served to South America but processed elsewhere.

An Amazon spokesperson said the region was being supported by data centers in two distinct locations but declined to provide any further detail about the facilities.

Andy Jassy, senior VP at AWS, said many customers in South America had been using the company’s cloud services in existing regions in US, Europe and Asia.

“With the launch of the new South America (Sao Paulo) Region, these customers can now run their applications in Brazil, which significantly reduces latency to end-users in South America and allows those needing their data to reside in South America to easily do so,” Jassy said.

A number of South American companies are already using Amazon’s cloud services supported by the new data centers. They include Orama, a Brazilian financial services company that uses AWS for its customer relationship systems.

Orama CEO Guilnherme Horn said, “The opening of the South America … region will enable greater flexibility in developing new services as well as help us comply with the needs of the regulations of the financial markets.”

Brazil’s Gol Airlines is using AWS to provide on-board WiFi services to its customers and other purposes; online coupon site Piexe Urbano is hosted on Amazon’s cloud; and these are just a few examples, according to Amazon.

This is the fourth region Amazon has added in 2011. The other three were Tokyo, US West (a data center in Oregon) and GovCloud (an infrastructure built specifically to serve the public sector).

Amazon launched its cloud services in early 2006 and has since become a dominant force in the Infrastructure-as-a-Service market, to a large extent helping shape it as it grew. The company’s cloud is now serving customers in more than 190 countries.