Facts about Amazon River

We found 20 facts about Amazon River

Its basin covers nearly half of South America

In the year 1500, European explorers stumbled upon one of the most remarkable wonders on the planet: the amazing Amazon River. This majestic waterway stretches across much of South America. 

Throughout history, the Amazon River has served as a vital transportation route, facilitating trade and scientific expeditions into the heart of the Amazon Rainforest.

The Amazon River and its surrounding rainforest are unparalleled in their ecological importance. Often referred to as the "lungs of the earth," the Amazon Rainforest plays a critical role in mitigating climate change by absorbing vast amounts of carbon dioxide. This awe-inspiring ecosystem is home to an astonishing number of species of plants and animals, many of which are endemic and undiscovered by science.

It is home not only to animals but also to people, with some 50 million people living along its banks, representing about 400 ethnic groups.

Amazon River
The Amazon River was first discovered by Spanish explorer Vicente Yáñez Pinzón.

He discovered the river in March 1500 while sailing along the coast of Brazil and named it Río Santa María del Mar Dulce, which was later shortened to Mar Dulce (Sweet Sea). The present day name may be derived from the indigenous people, led by women, who attacked the European explorers on the banks of the river.

This is a reference to mythical female warriors from Hellenistic culture.

Whether the Amazon is the longest river on earth is still a matter of debate.

It may be longer or shorter than the Nile, depending on the measurement criteria used. It's length may be anywhere between 6,275 and 6,992 km, while Nile is estimated to be between 5,499 and 7,088 km.

In terms of water volume discharge, the Amazon River comes first.
It has a discharge of approximately between 6,591 and 7,570 cubic kilometers per year, which makes it greater than the next seven largest rivers combined.
It flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

The mouth of the river is located in Brazil, but its exact location is difficult to determine due to complicated geography. The largest major city at the mouth of the Amazon is Belém, a port founded in 1616, which has about 1.5 million inhabitants.

The Amazon River rises in the high Andes of Peru. It does not have a single source.

There are three headwaters that are considered the source of the river: the Apurímac, the Mantaro and the Marañón (considered the main source of the Amazon). 

The Amazon River basin covers about 44% of South America's land area, about 6.1 million km2.

It is estimated that about 400 different ethnic groups inhabit the banks and basin of the Amazon River.

It flows through three countries: Peru, Colombia, Brazil.

It is part of the border between Colombia and Perú. 

The first European to navigate the length of the Amazon River was the Spanish conquistador Francisco de Orellana.
He achieved it in 1541, 41 years after the river was discovered by the Europeans, and thus is sometimes confused as the discoverer of the Amazon River.
The enormous discharge of water dilutes the salinity of the Atlantic Ocean for an area of 2,5 million square kilometers.
Beneath the Amazon River flows another - the Hamza River.

Hamza is about 6000 km long aquifer that flows at a depth of about 4 km and enters the Atlantic Ocean deep below its surface. The water in Hamza is salty as it mixes with deep salt deposits. The discovery of the underground river was announced in 2011.

There are no bridges on the Amazon River.

While it is not impossible to build a bridge across the Amazon River, such a structure would not survive the rainy season. Each rainy season, the river's water level can rise more than 30 feet (9 meters), flooding a large amount of nearby land. Under such conditions, no bridge could survive. But the locals do not complain, because they used to cross the river in the most suitable way: boats and ferry.

Amazon estuary is about 325 km wide.

Within it, there is a giant river island, Marajó, which is flanked on both sides by the Amazon River. It occupies an area of 40,100 km2.

Located almost on the equator, Marajó has 20 major rivers and is covered with savanna vegetation and palm swamps.

The Amazon River is home to the Amazon river dolphin, also known as the pink river dolphin.

It is the world's largest species of river dolphin and one of the Amazon's greatest attractions. Usually these mammals can be seen swimming alone or in pairs, but some lucky ones may encounter larger pods.

The Amazon River Basin is a propitious habitat for various species of fish, making it the leader of freshwater fish species worldwide.

There are over 3,000 species of fish, including the Red-bellied piranha, the Tucunaré Peacock bass, the Arapaima, the Armored catfish, and the Bull shark. 

Up to 60 species of piranha live in Amazonian waters, as well as over 100 electric fish species, including the famous electric eel.

More than half of the fish species found in the Amazon River are endemic.

About 200 species are adapted to be frugivores. These feed mainly on forest fruits and seeds.

The largest predator found in the waters of the Amazon river is the Black Caiman.

It is the largest caiman of the family Alligatoridae.

Black caiman
The black caiman can grow up to 6 meters and weigh up to 450 kg. It is one of the largest living reptiles.  Rigelus / CC BY-SA 3.0
In 2011, researchers discovered two new species of freshwater stingrays in the Amazon River.
The Heliotrygon (rosai and gomesi), commonly referred to as the Pancake stingrays, is the first new genus of stingrays from the Amazon described since 1987.
The Amazon River, now flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, once flowed in the opposite direction.

About 10 million years ago, the Amazon changed course from flowing into the Pacific Ocean.

The river's redirection was caused by the formation of the Andes, whose uplift created huge lakes in their eastern foothills. Over time, these lakes were filled with sediment that washed down from the slopes of the Andes with rainfall. Huge amounts of sediment gradually filled the lakes and continued to flow, raising the ground level. In short, as the surface of the western part of the continent rose above the eastern part, the Amazon River began to flow in the opposite direction.

It has over 1,100 tributaries.

Longest one is Madeira, measuring 3,380 km.

In 2016, researchers discovered a 9,300-square kilometers coral system in the muddy waters of the mouth of the Amazon River.
The Amazon Reef is one of the world’s largest reef systems. It contains 73 species of fish, over 60 species of sponge, and a wide range of starfish and corals, including staghorn corals.
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