Amazonia facts

The Amazon Rainforest is a very particular part of our planet, often presented as the lung of Earth, as 20% of our oxygen is produced by its trees. But there are other facts that you should know about it!

The largest rainforest on Earth…

Amazonia facts

Amazonia is the world’s biggest rainforest; larger than the next two largest rainforests combined (the Congo Basin and Indonesia). It is composed by over 390 billion trees of 16 000 different species! Nine countries of South America have a part of their territory covered by this rainforest.

 

… and the greatest river

Amazon facts

The Amazon is the greatest river in the world by so many measures: the volume of the water it carries to the sea (approximately 20% of all the freshwater discharged into the ocean comes from here; more than the next seven largest independent rivers combined), 40% of South America is irrigated by water from Amazon. Finally, the Amazon is one of the wider and longest rivers in the world, approximately 6 5000 Km long.

 

A divine name

Amazonia facts

In 1540, Francisco de Orellana – a Spanish explorer, and conquistador – completed the first known navigation of the entire length of the Amazon River, which initially was named “Rio de Orellana”. During this trip, whilst crossing the Tapuya territory (on the West part of today’s Brazil), the boat was attacked by the Indians. As customary in this tribe, the women of the tribe fought alongside the men. Orellana, impressed by the courage of these women, named them Amazonas, a derivation of the mythological Amazons, from Greek legends.

 

The Amazon river changed its direction

Amazon fact A few thousands of years ago, the Amazon River flowed west-ward instead of east-ward, as it does today. The rise of the Andes caused it to flow into the Atlantic Ocean.

A rich wildlife

Between 2010 and 2013, 441 new florae and animals species were discovered in Amazonia. It’s hard to imagine the diversity of the wildlife there. For instance, more than 2,5 million species of insects live there. Among the famous species, we could mention the Jaguar, the Piranha, the Anaconda, but also the Poison Dart Frog. This little frog (not even 5 cm long) produce a very deadly venom. Each frog contains enough poison to kill 10 humans!

 

A treasure for the humanity

Amazonia facts

25% of pharmaceutical products are made from ingredients from the Amazon rainforest. However, less than 1% of trees and plants have been tested by scientists. Preserving these trees could allow us to find ingredients to cure some deceases.

 

The home of untouched tribes

More than 50 untouched tribes have been counted in Amazonia, mainly in Brazil. However, some parts of the rainforest remain unexplored. Protecting this forest means also protecting these people. We wrote an article about untouched tribes around the World, check it here!

 

A giant in danger

Amazon facts

Around 17% of the Amazon rainforest has been lost in the last 50 years, mostly due to forest conversion for cattle ranching. Deforestation in this region is particularly rampant near more populated areas, roads and rivers, but even remote areas have been encroached upon when valuable mahogany, gold and oil are discovered. Different elements allowed to reduce this danger in the last 10 years (pressure of NGO, new protected areas, recognition of indigenous territory, improved law enforcement). However, the situation is still critical, and a surface equivalent to 7 football fields is deforested every minute.

The destruction of the Amazonia is not unsalvageable; we can all still act to save it. The NGOs WWF and Adventure Life give, for instance, some tips to help protect the Amazon with small daily actions.

 

credit photo: 1, 2, 4: Niel Palmer; 3: Painting from Albert Eckhout, 5,6,8: wikimedia
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  1. Fábio Inácio says:

    What a great piece of facts about Amazonia. It is amazing how great it is, just a shame we are destroying it, more than 17% in the last 50 years is so much, unfortunately, I believe that will be more and more :(
    I am happy that still some untouched tribes living their life calm and safe!!

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