Amazon Basin

Amazon Basin

Overview
The Amazon Basin is the part of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 drained by the Amazon River
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

 and its tributaries that drains an area of about 6915000 square kilometres (2,669,896.4 sq mi), or roughly 40 percent of South America. The basin is located in the countries of Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, Guyana
Guyana
Guyana , officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and of the British...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, and Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 . The Amazon rain forest is the largest in the world, covering about 8235430 square kilometre with dense tropical forest.



As much of the Amazon is unexplored, many of its indigenous plants and animals are unknown.
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Encyclopedia
The Amazon Basin is the part of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 drained by the Amazon River
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

 and its tributaries that drains an area of about 6915000 square kilometres (2,669,896.4 sq mi), or roughly 40 percent of South America. The basin is located in the countries of Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, Guyana
Guyana
Guyana , officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and of the British...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, and Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 . The Amazon rain forest is the largest in the world, covering about 8235430 square kilometre with dense tropical forest.

Plant life



As much of the Amazon is unexplored, many of its indigenous plants and animals are unknown. Plant growth is dense and the variety of animals living is comparatively more because of the heavy rainfall and the dense forests covered with huge evergreen and coniferous forests. The forests are in fact so thick that the dense "roof" created by the leaves and branches does not allow the sunlight to reach the ground. The ground remains dark and damp. Only shade tolerant trees and vegetation may grow here. Orchids and bromeliads use trees and other plants to get closer to the sunlight. They grow hanging onto the branches or tree trunks with aerial roots, not as parasites but as epiphytes. One tropical fruit tree that is native to the Amazon is the abiu
Abiu
Pouteria caimito, the abiu, is a tropical fruit tree originated in the Amazonian region of South America. It will grow an average of high, and can grow as high as under good conditions. Its fruit’s shape varies from round to oval with a point. When ripe, it has smooth bright yellow skin and will...

. There are thousands of plants, all in different colors, sizes, and shapes. There are also many other living organisms that have their homes in these plants.

Animal life


Mammals.

Birds.

Reptiles and amphibians.

Fishes. With more than 2,200 species the Amazon Basin has a larger fish fauna than any other river basin on Earth, and Amazonia is the center of diversity for Neotropical fishes
Neotropical fishes
The freshwater fishes of tropical South and Central America represent one of the most diverse aquatic ecosystems on Earth, with more than 5,600 species, representing about 10% all living vertebrate species...

 (Albert and Reis, 2011).

Some of the major fish groups of the Amazon Basin include:
  • Order Gymnotiformes
    Gymnotiformes
    The Gymnotiformes are a group of teleost bony fishes commonly known as the Neotropical or South American knifefishes. They have long bodies and swim using undulations of their elongated anal fin...

    : Neotropical electric fishes
  • Family Characidae
    Characidae
    The Characidae, characids or characins are a family of freshwater subtropical and tropical fish, belonging to the order Characiformes. The name "characins" is the historical one, but scientists today tend to prefer "characids" to reflect their status as a by and large monophyletic group at family...

    : tetras and allies
  • Family Loricariidae
    Loricariidae
    Loricariidae is the largest family of catfish , with almost 700 species and new species being described each year. Loricariids originate from fresh water habitats of Costa Rica, Panama, and tropical and subtropical South America. These fish are noted for the bony plates covering their bodies and...

    : armoured catfishes
  • Subfamily Cichlinae
    Cichlinae
    Cichlinae is a subfamily of South American fishes in the cichlid family. They are predatory and relatively elongated in shape. Of the three genera in the subfamily, some species of Cichla reach almost in length, making them by far the largest cichlids of the Americas, and among the largest...

    : Neotropical cichlids
  • Subfamily Poeciliinae: guppies and relatives

Climate and seasons


The Amazon river
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

 Basin has a tropical rainforest climate
Tropical rainforest climate
A tropical rainforest climate, also known as an equatorial climate, is a tropical climate usually found along the equator...

. Annual rain fall is approximately 1500–2500 mm. Day temperatures typically reach 30–35°C, while night temperatures reach 15–25°C.

The climate consists of two seasons, a "dry" or low-water season, and a wet season during which the rivers flood adjacent low lying forests.

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
Iquitos
Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest, with a population of 370,962. It is the capital of Loreto Region and Maynas Province.Located on the Amazon River, it is only above sea level, although it is more than from the mouth of the Amazon at Belém on the Atlantic Ocean...

 (Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

), Manaus
Manaus
Manaus is a city in Brazil, the capital of the state of Amazonas. It is situated at the confluence of the Negro and Solimões rivers. It is the most populous city of Amazonas, according to the statistics of Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, and is a popular ecotourist destination....

 and Belém
Belém
Belém is a Brazilian city, the capital and largest city of state of Pará, in the country's north region. It is the entrance gate to the Amazon with a busy port, airport and bus/coach station...

 (Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

). In many regions, the forest has been cleared for soy bean plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

s and ranching (the most extensive non-forest use of the land) and some of the inhabitants harvest wild rubber
Rubber
Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, is an elastomer that was originally derived from latex, a milky colloid produced by some plants. The plants would be ‘tapped’, that is, an incision made into the bark of the tree and the sticky, milk colored latex sap collected and refined...

 latex
Latex
Latex is the stable dispersion of polymer microparticles in an aqueous medium. Latexes may be natural or synthetic.Latex as found in nature is a milky fluid found in 10% of all flowering plants . It is a complex emulsion consisting of proteins, alkaloids, starches, sugars, oils, tannins, resins,...

 and Brazil nut
Brazil Nut
The Brazil nut is a South American tree in the family Lecythidaceae, and also the name of the tree's commercially harvested edible seed.- Order :...

s. This is a form of extractive farms, where the trees are not cut down, and thus this is a relatively sustainable human impact.

The largest organization fighting for the indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 in this area is COICA
Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin
Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin was founded in 1984 in Lima, Peru. This organization coordinates the following nine national Amazonian indigenous organizations:...

, which is a supraorganization emcompassing all indigenous rights
Indigenous rights
Indigenous rights are those rights that exist in recognition of the specific condition of the indigenous peoples. This includes not only the most basic human rights of physical survival and integrity, but also the preservation of their land, language, religion and other elements of cultural...

 organizations working in the Amazon Basin area, living in several countries.

River commerce


The river is the principle path of transportation for people and produce in the regions, with transport ranging from balsa rafts and dugout canoes to hand built wooden rivercraft and modern steel hulled craft.

Sustainable opportunistic agriculture in undeveloped areas


Seasonal floods excavate and redistribute nutrient-rich silt onto beaches and islands, enabling dry-season riverside agriculture of rice, beans, and corn on the river's shoreline without the addition of fertilizer, with additional slash and burn
Slash and burn
Slash-and-burn is an agricultural technique which involves cutting and burning of forests or woodlands to create fields. It is subsistence agriculture that typically uses little technology or other tools. It is typically part of shifting cultivation agriculture, and of transhumance livestock...

 agriculture on higher floodplains. Fishing provides additional food year round, and free-range chickens need little or no food beyond what they can forage locally. Charcoal made largely from forest and shoreline deadfall is produced for use in urban areas. Exploitation of bush meat, particularly deer
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

 and turtles is common.

Non-sustainable agriculture in developed areas


Extensive deforestation, particularly in Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, is of considerable worldwide concern as it is leading to the extinction of known and unknown species, reducing biological diversity and negatively impacting soil, water, and air quality. A final part of the deforestation process is the large-scale production of charcoal for industrial processes such as steel manufacturing. Soils within the region are generally shallow and cannot be used for more than a few seasons without the addition of imported fertilizers.

Geography


The Amazon Basin is bounded by the Guiana Highlands to the north and the Brazilian Highlands
Brazilian Highlands
The Brazilian Highlands or Brazilian Plateau are an extensive geographical region, covering most of the eastern, southern and central portions of Brazil, in all approximately half of the country's land area, or some 4,500,000 km²...

 to the south. The Amazon, which rises in the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

 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
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. 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
Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest , also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America...

 is deforested
Deforestation
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

 because of a growing interest in hardwood products.

The highest point in the watershed of the Amazon is the peak of Yerupajá
Yerupaja
Yerupajá or Nevado Yerupajá is a mountain of the Cordillera Huayhuash in west central Peru, part of the Andes. At 6,635 m/21,768 ft it is the second-highest in Peru and the highest in the Cordillera Huayhuash...

 at 6,635 m (21,768 ft).

Politically the basin is divided into the Brazilian Amazônia Legal
Amazônia Legal
Amazônia Legal is the largest socio-geographic division of the South American nation of Brazil, which contains all of its territory in the Amazon Basin...

, the Peruvian Amazon
Peruvian Amazon
The Peruvian Amazon is the area of the Amazon jungle included in the territory of Peru, from the east of the Andes to borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia. This region comprises 60% of the country and is marked by a large degree of biodiversity...

, the Amazon Region of Colombia
Amazon Region of Colombia
The Amazonía Region is a region in southern Colombia. It comprises the departments of Amazonas, Caquetá, Guainía, Guaviare, Putumayo and Vaupés, and covers an area of 403,000 km², 35% of Colombia's total territory...

 and parts of Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

 and the Venezuelan state of Amazonas
Amazonas (Venezuelan state)
Amazonas State is one of the 23 states into which Venezuela is divided.The state capital is Puerto Ayacucho. The capital until the early 1900s was San Fernando de Atabapo. Although named after the Amazon River, most of the state is drained by the Orinoco. Amazonas State covers a total surface...

.

Languages


The most widely spoken language in the Amazon is Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

, followed closely by Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

. On the Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 side Portuguese is spoken by at least 98% of the population, whilst in the Spanish-speaking countries a large number of speakers of indigenous languages are present, though Spanish is predominate.

There are hundreds of native languages still spoken in the Amazon, most of which are spoken by only a handful of people, and thus are critically endangered
Endangered language
An endangered language is a language that is at risk of falling out of use. If it loses all its native speakers, it becomes a dead language. If eventually no one speaks the language at all it becomes an "extinct language"....

. One of the most widely spoken languages in the Amazon is Nheengatu
Nheengatu
The Nheengatu language , often spelled Nhengatu, is an Amerindian language of a Tupi–Guarani family. It is also known by the Portuguese names língua geral da Amazônia and língua geral amazônica, both meaning "Amazonian General Language," or even by the Latin lingua brasilica...

, which is descended from the ancient Tupi language, originally spoken in the 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, who primarily used Tupi rather 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
JE is a hypothetical intermediate source text of the Torah postulated by the DH. It is a combination and redaction of the Jahwist and Elohist source texts. According to this hypothesis, J was composed c. 950 BC, E was composed c. 850 BC, and the two were combined into JE c. 750 BC. JE was...

 (with its important sub-branch Jayapura
Jayapura
Jayapura City is the capital of Papua province, Indonesia, on the island of New Guinea. It is situated on Yos Sudarso Bay . Its approximate population in 2002 was 200,000....

 spoken in the Xingu River
Xingu River
The Xingu River , also called Rio Xingu, is a 1,230-mile long, river in north Brazil; it is a southeast tributary of the Amazon River.-Description and history:...

 region and othes), Arawak
Arawakan languages
Macro-Arawakan is a proposed language family of South America and the Caribbean based on the Arawakan languages. Sometimes the proposal is called Arawakan, in which case the central family is called Maipurean....

, Karib, Arawá
Arawa
In Māori tradition, Arawa was one of the great ocean-going, voyaging canoes that was used in the migrations that settled New Zealand.It was formed from a great tree in Rarotonga, a place "which lies on the other side of Hawaiki" . The canoe belonged to Tama-te-kapua, son of Houmai-tawhiti...

, Yanomamo, Matsés
Matsés
The Matsés or Mayoruna are an indigenous tribe of the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon. The tribe's ancestral lands are currently threatened by illegal logging practices and poaching. These homelands are located between the Javari and Galvez rivers...

 and others.

See also


  • Amazon Conservation Association
    Amazon Conservation Association
    Amazon Conservation Association is a 5013 non-profit organization working to conserve the biodiversity of the Amazon Basin through the development of new scientific understanding, sustainable resource management and rational land-use policy....

  • Deforestation by region
    Deforestation by region
    Deforestation by region considers the rates and causes of deforestation vary from region to region around the world. In 2009 2/3 of the world forests were in 10 top countries: 1) Russia, 2) Brazil, 3) Canada, 4) USA, 5) China, 6) Australia, 7) Congo, 8) Indonesia, 9) Peru and 10) India.World...


External links