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Amazon Basin

The Amazon Basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries. The basin is located mainly (40%) in Brazil, but also stretches into Peru and several other countries. The South American rain forest of the Amazon is the largest in the world, covering about 8,235,430 km2 with dense tropical forest. For centuries, this has protected the area and the animals residing in it.

Plant life

Not all of the plants and animals that live in the Amazon Basin are known because of its huge unexplored areas. No one knows how many species of fish there are in the river. Plant growth is dense because of the heavy rainfall. One tropical fruit tree that is native to the Amazon is the abiu. There are thousands of plants, all in different colors, sizes, and shapes. Also, there are many vines and huge trees that give shade when the weather is hot.


The Amazon river Basin has an equatorial climate. Annual rain fall is approximately 1500-2500 mm. Day temperatures typically reach 30-35C, while night temperatures reach 20-25C.

Human occupation

Amazonia is very sparsely populated. There are scattered settlements inland, but most of the population lives in a few larger cities on the banks of the Amazon and other major rivers, such as in Iquitos (Peru), Manaus and Belem (Brazil). In many regions, the forest has been cleared for soy bean plantations and ranching (the most extensive non-forest use of the land) and some of the inhabitants harvest wild rubber latex and Brazil nuts. This is a form of extractive farms, where the trees are not cut down, and thus this is a relatively sustainable human impact.


The Amazon Basin is bounded by the Guiana Highlands to the north and the Brazilian Highlands to the south. The Amazon, which rises in the Andes Mountains at the west of the basin, is the second longest river in the world. It covers a distance of about 6,400 km before draining into the Atlantic Ocean. The Amazon and its tributaries form the largest volume of water. The Amazon accounts for about 20% of the total water carried to the oceans by rivers. Some of the Amazon Rainforest is deforested because of a growing interest in hardwood products.

Politically the basin is divided into the Brazilian Amazonia Legal and the Peruvian Amazon.


The most widely spoken language in the Amazon is Portuguese, followed closely by Spanish. On the Brazilian side Portuguese is spoken by at least 98% of the population, whilst in the Spanish-speaking countries there can still be found a large number of speakers of Native American languages, though Spanish easily predominates.

There are hundreds of native languages still spoken in the Amazon, most of which are spoken by only a handful of people, and thus seriously endangered. One of the most widely spoken languages in the Amazon is Nheengatu, which is descended from the ancient Tupi language, originally spoken in coastal and central regions of Brazil. It was brought to its present location along the Rio Negro by Brazilian colonizers who, until the mid-17th century, used Tupi more than the official Portuguese to communicate. Besides modern Nheengatu, other languages of the Tupi family are spoken there, along with other language families like Je (with its important sub-branch Jayapura spoken in the Xingu River region and othes), Arawak, Karib, Arawa, Yanomamo, Matses and others.

See also

Deforestation by region

External links

Bibliography on Water Resources and International Law Peace Palace Library

Information and a map of the Amazon's watershed

Amazon biogeography

Herndon and Gibbon Lieutenants United States Navy The First North American Explorers of the Amazon Valley, by Historian Normand E. Klare. Actual Reports from the explorers are compared with present Amazon Basin conditions.

Amazon Alive: Light & Shadow documentary film about the Amazon Basin

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Amazon Basin

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