The Amazon is the longest river, with 20% of all the fresh water on the planet, flowing through almost all of South America and being the most full-flowing river on earth.
The famous river, which winds its way through all of South America, keeps explorers all over the world busy. The Amazon can be studied endlessly, but it is impossible to know it to the end.
The Amazon at the origins of legend
The Amazon is the most water-bearing and full-flowing river in the entire world. It provides one-fifth of the world’s water supplies to the world’s oceans. The greatest river on the planet originates in the Andes and ends in the Atlantic Ocean on the Brazilian side.
All of South America is washed by the waters of the longest river.
Aparai tribe, they come from the southern shore of the Amazon.
History of the discovery of the Amazon
The confluence of the Ucayali and Marañon rivers forms the majestic Amazon, which for several millennia has continued uninterrupted. There is information that the Amazon got its name, thanks to the Spanish conquistadors, who once fought with the Indians on the banks of the mighty river.
Then the Spaniards were struck by the fearlessness with which the militant Indian women fought them.
The undiscovered Amazon.
So the river, which has always been associated with the once female tribes of brave female warriors, has found a name. What here is truth and what is fiction? Historians are still guessing and leading scholarly debates about it.
In 1553, the Amazon was first mentioned in the famous book “Chronicle of Peru.
An aboriginal tribe makes its first contact with the outside world.
The first news of the Amazons
The earliest information about the Amazons dates back to 1539. Conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada was on a trek through Colombia. He was accompanied by royal officials, whose subsequent report contains information about a resting place in the Bogotá Valley. It was there that they learned of an amazing tribe of women who lived on their own and used the stronger sex only for procreation. The locals called them the Amazons.
Floating Houses of Iquitos, Amazon River, Peru
It is mentioned that the queen of the Amazons was called Harativa. Supposedly the conquistador Jimenez de Quesada sent his brother’s warlike women to uncharted lands.
But no one has been able to confirm this information. And this information has little to do with the discovery of the river itself.
Cab on the Amazon River.
The discovery of the river by Francisco de Orellana
Francisco de Orellana was a conquistador whose name is firmly associated with the name of the mighty South American Amazon. According to historical accounts, he was one of the first Europeans to be able to cross the country in its widest part. Naturally, the clash of the conqueror with the Indian tribes was inevitable.
The route of Orellana’s 1541-1542 expedition.
In the summer of 1542 Orellana and his companions found themselves in a large village on the coast of the famous river. The royal subjects saw the local natives and engaged them in battle. It was supposed to be easy to subdue the tribe. But the stubborn Indians did not want to recognize the authority of the Spanish ruler and fought desperately for their lands. Were they brave women or just long-haired men?
It is hard to judge, but at the time the conquistador was delighted by such desperate resistance of the “Amazons” and decided to name the river after them. Although, according to the original idea, Francisco de Orellana was going to give it his own name. Thus, the river of the impenetrable jungle acquired its majestic name of Amazon.
Tribal girls on the Amazon River.
The delta of the Amazon River
About 350 kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean begins the delta of the world’s most full-flowing river. Ancient age has not prevented the rushing Amazon from reaching beyond its native banks. This was due to the active tides, ebb tides and the influence of currents.
The beauty of the Amazon: lilies and lilies.
Incredible masses of debris are carried by the river into the world’s oceans. But this interferes with the growth process of the delta.
Originally, the source of the Amazon was considered the main tributary of the Marañón. But in 1934 it was decided that the Ucayali River should be considered the priority.
The delta of the South American Amazon has an incredible area – up to one hundred thousand square kilometers, and the width is two hundred kilometers. A huge number of tributaries and straits are what characterize this river.
But the Amazon delta does not enter the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Animal life near the river
To visit the Amazon and be amazed by the incredible flora and fauna every biologist researcher or curious traveler who is interested in the unexplored world. The plants and animals that live along the Amazon’s coastline make up the world’s genetic pool without exaggeration.
The Jesus lizard, named because it can run on the surface of the water.
More than 100 species of mammals, 400 varieties of birds, insects, invertebrates, flowers and trees – they surround the lands of Amazonia in a tight ring, ruling unlimitedly. The entire basin of the mighty river is occupied by the rainforest. A unique natural formation or equatorial forest of Amazonia surprises with its climatic conditions. Heat and high humidity are their main features.
It is noteworthy that even at night the temperature does not drop below the 20 degree mark.
Jaguar in the tropical jungle of the river delta.
The lianas are thin stems that promptly reach an impressive length. Moving through these dense thickets will clearly require cutting your way through, because there is almost no sunlight penetrating through the lush vegetation. A true wonder of Amazonian flora is the enormous water lily, which is also capable of supporting a human weight.
Up to 750 species of different trees are sure to make even the most sophisticated explorer and traveler marvel.
It is in the Amazon that you can see the mahogany, gewey and cacao, as well as unique seibas, the fruits of which are surprisingly similar to cotton fibers.
On the coast of the South American river there are giant milk trees whose sweet sap resembles milk in appearance. Equally amazing are the castaña fruit trees, which can feed surprisingly tasty and nutritious nuts that somewhat resemble curved-shaped dates.
The tropical forests of the Amazon are the “lungs” of South America, so the activities of ecologists are aimed at preserving the vegetation in its pristine form.
You can often see the capybara on the coast. This is a South American rodent that is impressive in size and looks incredibly similar to the guinea pig. The weight of this “rodent” is up to 50 kilograms.
The unpretentious tapir lives near the shores of the Amazon. It is an excellent swimmer and reaches 200 kilograms in weight. The animal feeds on fruits of some trees, leaves and other vegetation.
A water-loving member of the feline family and a dangerous predator, the jaguar can safely move through the water column and even dive.
Fauna of the Amazon
The Amazon is home to a huge number of fish and other river creatures. Especially dangerous should include the bull shark, which weighs more than 300 kilograms and reaches three meters in length, as well as piranhas. These toothy fish can devour a whole horse in just a few seconds to the skeleton.
But they do not dominate the Amazon, because the caimans pose a threat to all life. This is a special kind of alligator.
Among the friendly inhabitants of the dangerous turbulent river are dolphins and beautiful ornamental fish (guppies, scalarias, swordfish), of which there are countless numbers – more than 2500 thousand! One of the last two-breathing protopters on the planet has found its home in the waters of the Amazon.
Here you can also see the rarest arowanas. This meter-long fish can jump high above the water and swallow huge bugs on the fly.
Giant snake in the Amazon.
One of the scariest creatures on the planet lives in the restless waters of the Amazon. It is a river anaconda that fears neither caimans nor jaguars. The deadly and swift snake can instantly overpower an opponent and kill its prey. The length of this water boa reaches 10 meters.
Piranha caught by spinning.
The dense forests of the Amazon are an irreplaceable ecosystem that is constantly threatened by mass tree-cutting. The river banks have long been undergoing devastation.
Back in the second half of the twentieth century, most of the forests were turned into pastures. As a result, the soil has suffered greatly from erosion.
Unfortunately, little is left of the pristine jungle on the Amazon coast. The scorched and partially cleared vegetation is almost impossible to regenerate, although environmentalists around the world are trying hopelessly to remedy the situation.
Somewhere in the Amazon jungle.
Rarest species of animals and plants are extinct due to the disruption of the Amazon ecosystem. Previously, a rare breed of otters lived here, but global changes in the natural environment have wiped out the population. The arapaima is a true living fossil. But the giant fish is also threatened with imminent extinction. Four hundred million years ago, these aquatic inhabitants appeared. But now the fish prefer to be bred on local farms to save their extinction. Despite all efforts, the oldest fish in the Amazon continue to go extinct due to catastrophic environmental disruption.
Endangered species include the famous mahogany and real rosewood with its extremely valuable wood. It is from this wood that expensive eco-friendly furniture is made all over the world. It should be stressed that active deforestation along the banks of this South American river seriously threatens not only the ecology of the surrounding areas but also the entire world.
The Amazon River, flowing in South America, is not for nothing listed as another wonder of the world (besides the seven existing ones). It is the most full-flowing freshwater basin in the world. It also leads in terms of area and length.
For a long period of time, the debate has not subsided over the direction in which the river flows, where its source comes from, how many tributaries it has, and so on. It is worth dealing with these and other nuances.
The main attraction of South America can rightly be considered the Amazon River.
It runs through the Amazon Basin, formed at the end of the Pre-Cambrian period.
Water from melting glaciers flowed down from the mountains (originating at an altitude of about 5000 meters) with such force that it flooded the land and laid the riverbed.
To this day, the process of water accumulation continues thanks to abundant atmospheric humidity, which supports this gigantic water system.
The tropical local climate is very variable – the sun is hot during the day and the ice begins to melt intensely and the meltwater rushes to the foot of the mountains.
Tons of snow avalanches form the strongest streams, and as they move, they pick up a frantic pace. Therefore, at the mouth of the river, the currents are quite turbulent.
At an altitude of about 3,500 meters, the Amazon enters an atmosphere of high humidity, which is created by the forests around it. That’s why you can find a lot of waterfalls here.
So the current does not weaken as the water needs to work its way through the mountain obstacles. Finally, having descended to the foothills of the Andes, the waters of the Amazon spill over the valley and continue their movement surrounded by jungle.
This basin and the surrounding areas, not yet fully explored along its entire length, are called the Amazon. It extends over eight states, but most of it is located in Brazil. What is surprising is that in different sections the river has its own name.
For example, the part from the confluence of the creek with the Ucayali to the beginning of the Rio Negro is called the Solimões. And the Peruvians call the Amazon Rio de Janeiro Marañón.
The river system is oriented at subequatorial and equatorial latitudes and runs from west to east. The Amazon runs through lowlands and plains, is swamped in places, and filled with equatorial forests (Selva).
It is characterized by high humidity, extreme swampiness and strong soil acidification. Many varieties of exotic plants grow here. The coastal zone of the channel is lowlands.
Throughout the river, the shoreline is presented in three stages:
- The uppermost (about 50 m high) – Terra firma;
- the middle (often flooded during floods) – Varzea ;
- lower (swampy terrain) – Igapo.
Complete information about where the Amazon River is located here.
What does the river look like in the photo?
You can see what the seventh wonder of the world, the Amazon, looks like in the photo:
The Amazon begins with Apachete Creek, located in Peru. The source joins with several streams to form the Apumirac, which joins first with the Marañón, then with the Ucayali and then transforms into the Amazon. The distance from the source of the Ucayali is 7,000 kilometers.
The reservoir falls into the Atlantic Ocean, where it forms a large delta (its area is comparable to Bulgaria – about 100 000 km2). Very long ago, the Amazon entered the Pacific Ocean, but over time it has changed its direction.
All information about the source and mouth of the reservoir is presented here.
The largest are considered:
- Rio Negra;
We described the tributaries in detail in the article at the link.
The coverage of this river system can be judged by the average flow rate per year – more than 7 thousand cubic meters of water (this is about 15% of the total river flow on the planet).
It can be characterized by the nature of its flow as lowland. In the Andes, where it begins, the flow is quite strong because of the fall of water from the heights, but then the river flows along the entire length of the lowland area.
What does the flow pattern of the Amazon depend on can be found here.
The Amazon basin covers an area of about 7.2 square kilometers. During the dry season, the width of the river is 11 km.
For this reason, no bridges are laid across the river, with the exception of one place – the tributary of the Rio Negra (the bridge, more than 3.5 km long, connects the port with the village of Iranduba).
How long is the Amazon compared to some of the great rivers:
|Name of water area||Length, km|
Hence the conclusion that on the basis of such data, the Amazon is the longest river in the world.
In the article at the link we discuss why the Amazon is longer than the Nile, and whether it has always been so.
What are the distinctive features of the body of water?
The Amazon is remarkable for many things. To give a complete overview of the attractions of this amazing river is problematic. But to highlight the main ones, is realistic.
What the body of water is famous for:
- The most full-flowing and large-scale freshwater body;
- forms almost the largest delta as it flows into the Atlantic Ocean;
- is surrounded by the largest wet tropical massifs;
- the water in it rises greatly (up to 1,400 km) at high tide of the ocean;
- the only place on earth where the largest freshwater dolphin in the world, the Boto, lives is the Amazon, as well as about 5.6 thousand tropical fish species.
- One of the amazing representatives of the Amazon flora is Victoria-regia: the size of its leaves is such that a full-sized person can fit into them.
During the season of heavy rainfall, an area comparable to that occupied by England is flooded. And in the dry season, millions of river inhabitants are trapped, making it a paradise for predators.
More fish live in the Amazon than in the Atlantic Ocean. And it takes at least 4 hours to fly around all the rainforests along the river.
There are many of them, but in the article we will highlight 4 of the most famous ones:
- Angel – considered the highest waterfall in the entire world (about 1,054 m). It is located in the tropical jungle of Venezuela. The water falls from Mount Auyantepui.
- Iguazu – is located on the river of the same name, flowing on the border between Brazil and Argentina. The height from which the stream of water falls is about 82 meters.
- Cucenan – rushes down from Mount Matai in Venezuela. Its height is 610 meters. It is located on the Cucenan River.
- Cayetur – one of the largest waterfalls in the world, up to 225 m high. It is located on the Potaro River in Guyana. It is five times the height of Niagara Falls.
The inhabitants of
Many fish and other inhabitants live in the waters of the Amazon.
But the following deserve special attention:
- bull shark (weighing up to 300 kg at three meters in length);
- Caimans (a type of alligator, up to 6 meters in size);
- pink dolphins;
- ornamental fish: scalarias, guppies, swordtails;
- fish protopters (double-breasted);
- arowan fish (2 meters long) that can jump high above the water surface and catch midges on the fly;
- anaconda (about 9-10 meters long and weighing up to 250 kg);
- water squirrels;
- mackerel hydrolic (a fish with sharp teeth like a vampire);
- pacu fish (has jaws resembling those of a human).
And this is not the whole list of the fauna of the river basin.
Animal and plant life
Anyone would be interested to visit the Amazon to admire the amazing flora and fauna of the coastal zone.
There are over 100 species of mammals, up to 400 species of birds, insects, invertebrates.
And the plants and trees (there are about 800 species) form a dense impenetrable jungle along the river, where there is always high humidity. And the temperature does not drop below 20 degrees, even at night.
What grows along the banks of the Amazon:
- giant water lilies;
- redwood and milkfruit;
- seiba (its fruits look like cotton fibers);
- castanea, which bears nuts
- hami (resembling dates).
This is only a small part of what can be found in the exotic forests of the Amazon.
Of the animals, it is worth highlighting:
- capybara (a giant rodent, similar in appearance to the guinea pig);
- tapir (an excellent swimmer, weighing about 200 kg);
These are the most striking representatives. All the information and interesting facts about the river’s inhabitants can be found here.
The use of the Amazon for economic purposes causes significant damage to the ecosystem of the basin.
The following are considered the most important:
- The deterioration of the soil structure, in particular its erosion;
- uncontrolled deforestation of forest assets;
- mass extinction of rare representatives of flora and fauna;
- pollution of soil and water with heavy metals.
To solve all these problems, a comprehensive approach is needed. The state tries to solve them in every possible way. Particular emphasis is placed on the recovery of destroyed forests.
The Amazon exists in a rather unusual regime. It is influenced by rainfall and tidal waters. The river is full almost all year round.
The water level fluctuates mainly due to the right (southern) and left (northern) tributaries.
Therefore, floods on the right side are observed from October to March and on the left side – from April to October.
Especially large water rises in May-July, when the meltwater from the Brazilian Andes (northern) comes down. In September, the flow is minimal.
What else you need to know about the river’s regime, read our article.
As already mentioned, the Amazon’s main source of nutrition is precipitation. No less important are the oceanic inflows in the lower reaches, when the river rises to 1,400 km. This floods large forested areas.
The largest Amazon tributaries are recharged mainly during the seasonal monsoons in the summer (in the equatorial belt precipitation practically does not stop all year round).
This accounts for their instability in flow – violent floods in summer and intense decline in winter (up to complete desiccation). But in general, the regime throughout the Amazon is fairly uniform.
Read more about power sources in the article at the link.
Economic use of the Amazon is quite large. It manifests itself in the following:
Shipping . If we talk about the length of the Amazon together with all its tributaries, it is about 25 thousand km.
But only 4,300 km are adapted for ships. The main receiving ports are Manaus, Sintaren, Belém and Obidos, as well as Iquitos in Peru.
About the economic use of the river in detail here.
Top 5 Facts.
There are many amazing things to say about the Amazon and the surrounding area. Some facts have developed from history, others have been obtained by research.
It would be difficult to list everything, but some aspects are worth noting:
- In 2011, scientists discovered that the world’s largest underground river, no less long, flows under the Amazon at a depth of 4 km. It is called Hamza (after the Indian scientist who discovered it).
- A quarter of all the oxygen on the planet is produced by the Amazon rainforest.
- The volume of water flowing from the river into the ocean is so great that desalination takes place over an area of up to 160 km.
- On the banks of this Brazilian river there are still many tribes that have absolutely no contact with the outside world. Most scientists believe that it is not necessary to try to get in touch with them.
- There is a theory that in the past a huge orchard grew on the site of the flow of the Amazon. It is a remnant of the civilization that existed in this area about 3,000 years ago.
As a separate point, we can highlight an interesting feature. All the tributaries to the Amazon differ not only in area and length, but also in the color of the water – dark, milky, greenish, gray and even scarlet.
Only this river can boast such a variety of colors. Near the port of Manaus, the water in the river has a double hue – dark and light.
The Amazon is located in South America and is rightfully considered the Queen of Rivers. It takes the lead in many ways. First, it is the most full-flowing freshwater basin in the world, collecting about 50% of all water from South America.
The volume of water dumped into the ocean is so enormous that it accounts for about 20-25% of the planet’s total water supply. Most of the flowing tributaries are themselves full-fledged and fairly large rivers.
And more recently, the Amazon is listed as the longest river system. In addition, its estuary is 10 times larger than the world’s largest channel, the English Channel. Not surprisingly, it is home to a huge island, similar in size to Scotland.