- The Amazon Basin occupies over 2.5 million square miles and includes
major portions of 9 South American countries.
- Almost 2/3 of Peru is covered by tropical rainforest, and under 6
percent of the country's population lives in the jungle. The lush rainforest
of the Amazon supports the most diverse array of flora and fauna found
in the world. There are millions of species of plant and animal life
still unclassified and mostly undiscovered. The Amazon contains over
25,000 species of exotic plants, 100 species of trees in 1/2 square
mile area (a single tree can support over 2,000 epiphytic plants whose
weight is 1/3 that of the tree), 2,800 species of birds (over 600 species
in areas we visit), 4,000 species of butterflies, more than 3,000 species
of fish, and over 60 species of reptiles.
- The Amazon basin produces approximately 20% of Earth's oxygen.
- In spite of the rich and luxuriant appearance of the rainforest, it
is extremely fragile. Almost all nutrients are recycled by rapid decomposition
back into the vegetation, thereby creating a nutrient-poor soil that
is highly susceptible to disturbance. When land is cleared, there is
heavy erosion and usually only 4 or 5 years of productivity in the soil.
- In the 1500's more than 6 million Indians lived in the Amazon rainforest.
Today fewer than 250,000 remain. An average of 1 tribe has perished
in each year this century.