The Amazon River
Facts and Figures

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  • The Amazon River source is a small stream in the Andes mountains of Peru. The river flows across Peru into Brazil where it is known as the Rio Solimoes until it reaches the confluence with the Rio Negro near Manaus. From there to the Atlantic Ocean it is called the Rio Amazonas.

  • 20 % of all freshwater that flows on the earth moves through the Amazon basin's system. This is greater than the next 8 largest rivers combined.

  • 5 trillion gallons of water flows into the Atlantic Ocean every day. This amount would fill Lake Ontario in 3 hours.

  • The Amazon River is navigable by large ocean vessels for 2,300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to Iquitos, Peru, where ships are nearer to the Pacific Ocean than the Atlantic.

  • The force of the Amazon is so strong at its mouth, that it flows 125 miles into the Atlantic before the fresh water of the Amazon mixes with salt water of the ocean.

  • Torrential downpours can cause the river to rise 40 feet during the wet season.

  • There are 2 very different types of water which occur in the Amazon basin. White water rivers (the Amazon and Napo Rivers) are actually a muddy brown color and are full of silt and alluvial matter. Black water rivers (the Nanay and Yanayacu Rivers) have very little silt and are very acidic and higher in humic matter. These different water properties cause different plant species to grow in areas flooded by the different water types. For example, the famous giant water-lily, Victoria amazonica, grows only in white water areas.

  • 90 % of Amazon lowlands are covered by "terra firme" (firm ground) forests which never flood during the rainy season. The flooded forests (igapó and várzea) cover two percent of this region. Flooded forest vegetation has adapted to survive up to 8 months underwater.

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