The Amazon was named after the legendary female warriors from Greek mythology. It is the world’s largest tropical rainforest covering over 5.5 million square kilometres of area. The Amazon is so big that the UK and Ireland would fit into it for a whopping 17 times. And if it were a country then it would be the ninth-largest in the world. It is found in South America, stretching across nine countries, including Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. Here are some other interesting and lesser-known facts about the iconic Amazon.
1. It’s Diversity
The Amazon is known for its incredibly rich ecosystem. There are around 40,000 kinds of plants, 1,300 kinds of birds, 3,000 species of fish, 430 mammals and 2.5 million various insects. It is home to many dangerous species such as the electric eels, flesh-eating piranhas, poison dart frogs, Jaguars and Anacondas. It is also home to a fish named Pirarucu, a meat-eater that can grow up to 3m long, This dangerous fish has teeth on the roof of its mouth and on its tongue. The Amazon is also home to some 21 million people. Including an expected 50 remote tribes who haven’t made contact with modern civilization yet.
2. The Amazon River
There is a little debate about if the Amazon river is the longest river in the world. According to some researchers, the Amazon River is 4,000 miles in total which would make it the second-longest river after the Nile River in Egypt which is 4,132 miles in length. But according to a group of scientists, the Amazon river actually starts in the Peruvian Andes and extends for 4,225 miles, longer than the Nile River. Anyway, the Amazon river is the biggest river by volume. It pumps out a tremendous 55 million gallons of water into the Atlantic per second.
3. Secret Rivers
A 2006 geological study discovered that the Amazon used to run east to west but changed direction once the Andes rose through the continent, due to the continental drift, some 100 million years ago. Amazon rain forest holds many secrets. One of those is its lesser-known rivers. The Hamza River in the Amazon Rain forest which roughly has the same length and has even bigger width compared to the Amazon River is an underground river located 4 kilometres under the Amazonian. Another fascinating river in the rain forest is the ‘The Boiling River’. The river is literally boiling and at times its temperature can be as high as 93 degrees Celsius.
4. The Sahara desert Helps The Amazon To Survive
Incredibly, the world’s largest desert supports the world’s largest and most bio-diverse rainforest. Recent research, using satellite imagery and advanced dust cloud modelling techniques, suggest that particles get picked up in the Sahara desert and blown over the Atlantic before settling in the Amazon. Since the Amazon requires a continuous supply of fresh dust and phosphorous in its uppermost soil to continue to thrive, the Sahara desert provides much of its needs.
5. The Issue Of Deforesting
The Amazon rainforest is going extinct at an alarming rate.1.5 acres of the Amazon vanishes every single second and an average of 137 species become extinct each day with it. The Amazon rainforest accounts for 30% of global carbon emissions and if it continues to disappear at this rate, in 40 years, there would be nothing left. Sadly, most of the deforestation is done to make room for pastures to raise cattle.
6. “The Lungs Of The Earth“
Or at least this is what we believed. Because the rainforest pumps out an enormous 20% of the world’s oxygen each day which is far more than any other ecosystem, we called it ”the lungs of the earth”. But its decomposing plant matter also puts out roughly the same amount of CO2, about 30%. Which means the rainforest is more or less in equilibrium. And the vast majority of the oxygen we breathe actually comes from microorganisms throughout the world’s oceans. The Amazon actually have more of a cooling effect on the global climate absorbing a huge amount of heat from the sun.
7. The Bottom Of The Forest Is Quite Dark
One hectare of the rain forest can contain more than 750 types of trees and 1,500 types of plants. The forest is so dense that the forest floor only gets 1% of sunlight through the thick canopy which makes it almost completely black. In fact, when it rains it takes around 10 minutes for the water to flow down to the bushes below.
8. A Man Swam The Whole River
A man named Martin Strel swam the entire length of the Amazon river in 2007. He swam up to ten hours a day for 66 days to complete his journey. He is the first man to do so and he holds the Guinness World Record for it.
9. A Lot Of Our Food & Medicine Comes From There
More than 80% of the world’s food varieties originate from the Amazon rainforest. 70% of the plants that are known to have anti-cancer properties are found in the rain forest. Although only 1% of plant species of the Amazon have been tested for medicinal properties, more than 25% of modern pharmaceuticals contain Amazonian ingredients.
10. Climate Change Can Destroy The Amazon
Other than deforestation, another thing that is damaging and even has the capability to destroy the great Amazon rainforest is climate change. It is estimated that if climate change increases the world’s temperature by only 3 degrees Celsius then 75% of the Amazon would be destroyed.
do you know any other interesting, or lesser-known facts about the Amazon? Do let us know your thoughts in the comments below.