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Amazon rainforest & river basin travel destination info

Amazon rainforest & river basin travel destination info

Amazonia (sometimes called Pan-Amazonia) is a huge region covering about 40% of the South American continent.

It encompasses the northern parts of Brazil and Bolivia, the eastern parts of Peru and Ecuador, the southeastern parts of Colombia and Venezuela and all of Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. It is one of the worlds most diverse biological areas and is fed by rivers taking their offspring in the Andes of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia and running into the Atlantic ocean in east Brazil.

World largest rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest (Brazilian Portuguese: Floresta Amazônica or Amazônia; Spanish: Selva Amazónica or Amazonía) is a moist broadleaf forest in the Amazon Basin of South America. The area, also known as the Amazon Basin, encompasses seven million square kilometers (1.2 billion acres), though the forest itself occupies some 5.5 million square kilometers. States or departments in four nations bear the name Amazonas after it. The Amazon represents over half of the planet's remaining rainforests and comprises the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest in the world.

Unparalleled Biodiversity

Wet tropical forests are the most species-rich biome, and tropical forests in the Americas are consistently more species rich than the wet forests in Africa and Asia. As the largest tract of tropical rainforest in the Americas, the Amazonian rainforests have unparalleled biodiversity. More than 1/3 of all species in the world live in the Amazon Rainforest.

The region is home to about 2.5 million insect species, tens of thousands of plants, and some 2000 birds and mammals. To date, at least 40,000 plant species, 3,000 fish, 1,294 birds, 427 mammals, 428 amphibians, and 378 reptiles have been scientifically classified in the region. Scientists have described between 96,660 and 128,843 invertebrate species in Brazil alone.

The diversity of plant species is the highest on earth with some experts estimating that one square kilometer may contain over 75,000 types of trees and 150,000 species of higher plants. One square kilometer of Amazon rainforest can contain about 90,790 tonnes of living plants. This constitutes the largest collection of living plants and animal species in the world. One in five of all the birds in the world live in the rainforests of the Amazon. To date, an estimated 438,000 species of plants of economic and social interest have been registered in the region with many more remaining to be discovered or cataloged.

Naming of the region

The name Amazon is said to arise from a battle which Francisco de Orellana (The Spanish conquistador who departed from Quito to discover the Amazon) had with a tribe of Tapuyas where the women of the tribe fought alongside the men, as was the custom among the entire tribe. (Orellana's descriptions may have been accurate, but a few historians speculate that Orellana could have been mistaking indigenous men wearing "grass skirts" for women.) Orellana derived the name Amazonas from the ancient Amazons of Asia and Africa described by Herodotus and Diodorus in Greek legends.

Amazonian tribes

The Amazon Basin includes a diversity of traditional inhabitants as well as biodiversity in both flora and fauna. These peoples have lived in the rain forest for thousands of years, and their lifestyles and cultures are well-adapted to this environment. Contrary to popular belief, their subsistence living methods do not significantly harm the environment. In the past few decades, the real threat to the Amazon Basin has been deforestation and cattle ranching by large multinational corporations. People that live here also consume an extremely small amount of energy generated by plants and primary producers. Their energy-use percentage in the world is nearly zero. This is potentially helpful to the environment.

The Amazon basin is inhabited by roughly 26 million people, of which 11 million on the Brazilian side. The two largest cities in the Amazon basin are Manaus (1.4 million, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas) and Belém (1 million, capital of the Brazilian state of Pará).

The Worlds mightiest river

The Amazon River or River Amazon (Portuguese: Rio Amazonas; Spanish: Río Amazonas) of South America is the largest river in the world by volume, with a total river flow greater than the next top ten largest rivers flowing into the ocean combined.

The Amazon River accounts for approximately 1/5 of total world's river flow, and it has the largest drainage basin in the world. Recent findings indicate that the Amazon may in fact be the longest river as well, since it is second to the Nile River by only 400 meters. Because of its vast dimensions, it is sometimes called The River Sea (o rio-mar in Portuguese), and at no point is it crossed by bridges.

Origin of the Amazon river 

The Upper Amazon has a series of major river systems in Peru (many of which are alike in Ecuador) that flow North and South into the Marañón and Amazon River. Among others, these include the following rivers: Morona, Pastaza, Nucuray, Urituyacu, Chambira, Tigre, Nanay, Napo, Huallaga, and Ucayali. The same as in the snow-crested Andes high above Lake Lauricocha in central Peru and Volcanoes Cotopaxi and Antisana in Ecuador, the headstream of the Marañón River rises in the glaciers in what is known as the Nevado de Yarupa. Rushing through waterfalls and gorges in an area of the high jungle called the pongos, the Marañón River flows about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) from west-central to northeast Peru before it combines with the Ucayali River, just below the provincial town of Nauta, it also merges with the Napo river in Ecuador to form the mighty Amazon River. The primary tributaries of the Marañón River are--from south to north--the Crisnejas, Chamayo, Urtcubamba, Cenepa, Santiago, Moroña, Pastaza, Huallaga, and Tiger Rivers.

The most distant source of the Amazon is disputed between the glaciers of Cotopaxi (5,897 m) and Antisana (5260 m) volcanoes in Ecuador and a glacial stream on a snowcapped 5,597 m (18,363 ft) peak called Nevado Mismi in the Peruvian Andes, roughly 160 km (100 mi) west of Lake Titicaca and 700 km (430 mi) southeast of Lima. The waters from Nevado Mismi flow into the Quebradas Carhuasanta and Apacheta, which flow into the Río Apurímac which is a tributary of the Ucayali which later joins the Marañón to form the Amazon proper.

Source of the Amazon Formally, though, the union of the Ucayali and the Marañón form the Río Amazonas, which changes its name to Solimões on the triple frontier between Peru, Colombia, and Brazil, and later changes its name back to the Amazon only after it meets the Rio Negro near Manaus. After the confluence of Río Apurímac and Ucayali, the river leaves Andean terrain and is instead surrounded by flood plain. From this point to the Marañón, some 1,600 km (990 mi), the forested banks are just out of water, and are inundated long before the river attains its maximum flood-line. The low river banks are interrupted by only a few hills, and the river enters the enormous Amazon Rainforest.

The river systems and flood plains in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela whose waters drain into the Solimões and its tributaries are called the "Upper Amazon".

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