Huwebes, Mayo 10, 2012
he Amazon River is the second longest river (Only to the Nile), in the world and the longest and largest river of South America.
The river is 6,437 kilometres long, and carries more water than any other river, even more than the Mississippi, Nile, and Yangtze rivers together.
The river is 2.5 to 10 kilometres wide during most of its course.
At some points it is too wide for a person on one bank to see the opposite shore.
It widens to about 150 kilometres at its mouth.
The depth of the Amazon averages about 10 metres and increases to more than 90 metres at some places.
The Amazon River Basin covers about 7,000,000 square kilometres and is the world's largest tropical rainforest.
The temperature averages 29 °C nearly throughout the year.
Rainfall in the Amazon region ranges from 130 centimetres in the low-lying areas to 305 centimetres near the Andes Mountains in Peru.
The air is very humid throughout most of the river basin.
Ocean going vessels can sail about 3,700 kilometres up the Amazon to Iquitos, in Peru.
Belem, on the Para River, and Manaus, 1,600 kilometres upstream from the mouth of the Amazon, are important ports.
The Amazon begins 5,240 metres above sea level in the Andes Mountains of Peru as a small stream called the Apurimac River.
The Apurimac joins the Ucayali River, and they join the Maranon River, the Amazon's upper branch near Iquitos, Peru, and form the main channel of the Amazon.
The river continues eastward across Brazil and flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Amazon tumbles rapidly through the Andes and falls about 5,000 metres during the first 970 kilometres.
It falls only about 240 metres more during the rest of its course.
The river flows at a speed of about 2.5 kilometres per hour during the dry season, but the flow increases to about 5 kilometres per hour in the rainy season.
More than 200 streams and rivers flow into the Amazon River. An unusually high ocean tide occasionally overpowers the current at the mouth of the Amazon.
This creates a wall of water called a 'bore' that measures up to 4.5 metres high and rushes upstream.
Many different fish live in the Amazon River, including the fierce, flesh-eating piranha and the pirarucu, one of the largest fresh-water fish of South America.
The basin area is the home of such animals as alligators, anacondas, monkeys, parrots, sloths, and many species of insects.
The indigenous Indians lived in the Amazon River basin before white people first came to the area.
In 1500, Vincente Pinzon, a Spanish explorer, was probably the first European to see the Amazon.
In 1541 and 1542, Francisco de Orellana, another Spaniard led the first exploration of the river by a European.
His expedition followed the Amazon from the mouth of the Napo River in Peru to the Atlantic.
Orellana and his group was attacked on their journey by fierce female Indian warriors.
The Spaniards called their attackers Amazons, after the female warriors in Greek mythology.
The name was later given to the river and the nearby area.
During the mid-1800's, the Amazon basin became an important source of rubber, obtained from trees in the region, until about 1910, when plantations in Southeast Asia began to produce rubber more cheaply, and the economy of the region collapsed.
Since the 1960's, the Brazilian government has built roads and airports in the Amazon basin.
New towns and farms have been established in the basin, and its population has grown.
The Amazon rain forest has a great variety of plant life.
Scientists have found more than 3,000 species of plants in 2.5 square kilometres there.
The trees stand as tall as 60 metres.
Their tops grow so close together that only a little sunlight can reach the ground.