What a choice. Warm climates and world-renowned beaches, or beautiful Old World architecture and sometimes-questionable weather. Of course, there's far more to South America and Eastern Europe than these tourist considerations. Both are increasingly popular destinations for investors' dollars as well.

These regions are certainly similar in some respects. Both have a legacy of poor governments and even worse stewardship of national economic and environmental policy. But in many respects, today's governments seem increasingly focused on making sure that those legacies stay in the past. In their place are some economies that now look like they just might be able to produce above-average growth for a fair stretch of time.

Today, we debate which of these two regions may hold the better potential for investors looking to add some international exposure to their portfolios.

Economic details*
(Largest per region in total GDP)

Country GDP/Capita GDP Growth Inflation
Brazil $4,460 3.6% 4.7%
Argentina $5,150 4.7% 9%
Venezuela $6,010 5.4% 16.6%
Russia $5,980 5.5% 9.5%
Turkey $4,810 3.7% 9.7%
Poland $8,260 4.1% 1.8%
Data from Economist Intelligence Unit.
*Projections for 2006.

Notable companies:

  • Brazil: Petrobras (NYSE:PBR), CVRD (NYSE:RIO), Banco Bradesco (NYSE:BBD)
  • Argentina: YPF (NYSE:YPF), Telecom Argentina (NYSE:TEO), Banco Frances (NYSE:BFR)
  • Venezuela: CANTV (NYSE:VNT)
  • Russia: NorilskNickel (OTC BB: NILSY.PK), Mobile Telesystems (NYSE:MBT), Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods (NYSE:WBD)
  • Turkey: Turkcell (NYSE:TKC)
  • Poland: Central European Distribution (NASDAQ:CEDC)

In this match, I'll be taking a look at South America, while Rich Smith focuses on Eastern Europe -- or, more specifically, Russia.

For more international stock ideas, check out The Motley Fool International Report: Around the World in 80 Minutes.

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson owns shares of Turkcell but has no financial interest in any other stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.