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These Little-known Amazon Rainforest Facts Will Surely Astound You

Amazon Rainforest Facts
The Amazon rainforest, also referred to as the Amazon jungle or Amazonia, is a moist broadleaf forest, spanning over an area of 1.4 billion acres of the Amazon Basin, in South America. Covering approximately 40 percent of the South American continent, the Amazon happens to be the largest rainforest in the world.
Abhijit Naik
Last Updated: Jan 25, 2018
Deforestation in the Amazon
Did You Know?
The Amazon rainforest constitutes approximately 54 percent of the total rainforests that survive on the planet today.
It is a well-known fact that the Amazon ecosystem is home to thousands of plants and animal species, but exactly how many thousands is something that continues to baffle everybody, including the scientific fraternity.

One of the most amazing facets of the Amazon is the rich biodiversity that this region boasts of. The fact that this forest is home to almost half of the plants and animals found on the planet, speaks volumes about the great deal of biodiversity that you get to see here.

The Amazon is also a perfect example of endemism, with the considerably large number of species, both plants and animals, found here being endemic to this region alone; the Amazon pink river dolphin, Brazilian tapir, and the Amazonian river turtle are a few examples of the same.
Amazon Rainforest Fact File
Amazon rainforest
The Amazon rainforest stretches across eight South American countries, i.e. Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. At 60 percent, more than half of this rainforest lies in Brazil alone. A distant second, in terms of total forest cover, comes Peru, which amounts for 13 percent of this forest, followed by Colombia with 10 percent.
Amazon river
The Amazon river, which happens to be the lifeline of this rainforest, runs 4,007 miles from the point of its origin to its mouth in the Atlantic Ocean. It has 1100 tributaries, out of which 17 are more than 900 miles long. One of the largest rivers in the world, river Amazon discharges approximately 3.4 million gallons of water into the Atlantic every minute.
The climate of the Amazon rainforest is hot and humid, with average temperature of around 79°F all round the year. The region seldom witnesses drastic changes in climatic patterns. It experiences convectional type of rainfall, wherein tropical heat evaporates water and brings it down in the form of sudden downpours throughout the year.
Copious amount of rainfall throughout the year, accompanied by the water brought in by rivers from the Peruvian Andes snow melt results in flooding of the forest floor in summer. At times, the water level here rises by a whopping 30-40 ft, and encroaches upon millions of acres of land, thus creating a swamp like situation in this rainforest every year.
Amazon Rainforest
As of today, 438,000 species of plants have been identified in the Amazon, a number which is expected to rise as scientist believe that there are several species in this region which are yet to be discovered. The four layer forest cover of the Amazon: the emergent layer, canopy layer, understory and the forest floor, consists of species ranging from flowering plants (bromeliads and heliconia) to gigantic trees (Kapok tree).
It is believed that several thousands of plants are found in one square mile of the Amazon forest alone. In a study conducted in Ecuador in 1801, the researchers found 1,100 different species of plants in an area of 62 acres (¼ mile). A large number of these plants are used by the local tribes for their medicinal properties, though these properties are yet to be subjected to scientific analysis.
Most of the species found in this forest are arboreal in nature, and that is an apt animal adaptation in rainforest considering that the forest floor is covered with water for a significant part of the year.
Diversity in Amazon rainforest
Approximately one-fifth of the total birds and fish species inhabiting the planet are found in the Amazon ecosystem alone. The water sources in the Amazon are home to species like the pirarucu, which is considered one of the largest species of freshwater fish in the world, and the piranha, one of the deadliest species on the planet. The jaguar, cougar and ocelot are large land-predators of the Amazon, while the black caiman crocodile is the main predator when it comes to water sources.
Large-scale deforestation in the Amazon has raised quite a few eyebrows the world over. Logging, mining, pasture, agriculture and housing are the factors responsible for deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. Between 1804 and 1805, the mean annual deforestation rate in the Amazon had reached 13,900 miles per year. The data on deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon compiled by the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE) reveals that the forest cover has come down from 1.58 million square miles prior to 1970s to 1.29 million square miles today. That is an issue of concern, considering that the rainforest in Brazil constitutes for 60 percent of the Amazonian rainforest.
A study published in January 1807 issue of National Geographic magazine, revealed that we were slated to lose around 40 percent of the Amazon rainforest over the next two decades at the 1807 deforestation rates. However, the implementation of some strict conservation measures brought down the rate of deforestation which had reached the all time low in 2011. Though the threat has reduced, it's far from over. The agriculture sector in Brazil has been lobbying for the need to bring about certain changes in the Forest Code (1965), an attempt which the environmentalists believe will destroy the slowly reviving rainforest.
Amazon Rainforest
The rainforests cover 6 percent of the Earth's surface and the Amazon rainforest holds the largest share, which makes it all the more important for life on the planet. If this rainforest is destroyed, it won't just result in loss of habitat for numerous species inhabiting this forest, but will also affect other lifeforms on the planet, including humans, indirectly. After all, the Amazon forest produces 20 percent of the total oxygen on the planet.
These facts about the Amazon rainforest must have given you a general idea about its importance for the ecology of our planet. It took millions of years for these rainforests to evolve, but at the rate at which we are destroying them they will not last for more than a few decades. Depletion of the Amazon forest cover will not just affect the flora and fauna found there, but will also affect the entire ecosystem―adversely!
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