GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE AMAZON

                                                                                                                              
The Amazon basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries. The Amazon drainage basin covers an area of about 6,915,000 km2 (2,670,000 sq mi), or roughly 40 percent of the South American continent. It is located in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

Most of the basin is covered by the Amazon rainforest, also known as Amazonia. With a 5,500,000 km2 (2,100,000 sq mi) area of dense tropical forest, this is the largest rainforest in the world.

The name 'Amazon' is said to arise from a war Francisco de Orellana fought with a tribe of Tapuyas and other tribes from South America. The women of the tribe fought alongside the men, as was the custom among the entire tribe. Orellana derived the name Amazonas from the mythical Amazons of Asia described by Herodotus and Diodorus in Greek legends.

The region is home to about 2.5 million insect species, tens of thousands of plants, and some 2,000 birds and mammals. To date, at least 40,000 plant species, 2,200 fishes, 1,294 birds, 427 mammals, 428 amphibians, and 378 reptiles have been scientifically classified in the region. One in five of all the bird species in the world live in the rainforests of the Amazon, and one in five of the fish species live in Amazonian rivers and streams. Scientists have described between 96,660 and 128,843 invertebrate species in Brazil alone.
The biodiversity of plant species is the highest on Earth with one 2001 study finding a quarter square kilometer (62 acres) of Ecuadorian rainforest supports more than 1,100 tree species.

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BIODIVERSITY

                                                                                                                              
Wet tropical forests are the most species-rich biome, and tropical forests in the Americas are consistently more species rich than the wet forests in Africa and Asia. As the largest tract of tropical rainforest in the Americas, the Amazonian rainforests have unparalleled biodiversity. One in ten known species in the world lives in the Amazon rainforest. This constitutes the largest collection of living plants and animal species in the world.


The region is home to about 2.5 million insect species, tens of thousands of plants, and some 2,000 birds and mammals. To date, at least 40,000 plant species, 2,200 fishes, 1,294 birds, 427 mammals, 428 amphibians, and 378 reptiles have been scientifically classified in the region. One in five of all the bird species in the world live in the rainforests of the Amazon, and one in five of the fish species live in Amazonian rivers and streams.


The biodiversity of plant species is the highest on Earth with one 2001 study finding a quarter square kilometer (62 acres) of Ecuadorian rainforest supports more than 1,100 tree species.A study in 1999 found one square kilometer (247 acres) of Amazon rainforest can contain about 90,790 tonnes of living plants. The average plant biomass is estimated at 356 ± 47 tonnes per hectare. To date, an estimated 438,000 species of plants of economic and social interest have been registered in the region with many more remaining to be discovered or catalogued.The total number of tree species in the region is estimated at 16,000.

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PLANT LIFE

                                                                                                                              
As much of the Amazon is unexplored, many of its indigenous plants and animals are unknown. Plant growth is dense and its variety of animal inhabitants is comparatively high due to the heavy rainfall and the dense and extensive evergreen and coniferous forests. The sunlight can not reach the ground because of the dense roof created by plants.

The ground remains dark and damp and only shade tolerant trees and vegetation will grow here. Orchids and bromeliads exploit 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.

The Amazon basin contains thousands of plant species. The bromeliads are special in that they hold water, and frogs may use these plants to hatch their eggs, besides many other living organisms that have their homes in them. The kapok tree is the biggest tree of the Amazon rainforest, as it can grow to 200 feet tall and the trunk can be 10 or 11 feet in diameter.

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ANIMAL LIFE - MAMMALS                                                                                                                

More than 14,000 species of mammals are found in the Amazon, the majority of which are species of bats and rodents. Its larger mammals include the jaguar, ocelot, capybara and tapir.

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ANIMAL LIFE - BIRDS                                                                                                               

About 1500 bird species inhabit the Amazon basin. The biodiversity of the Amazon and the sheer number of diverse bird species is given by the number of different bird families that reside in these humid forests. An example of such would be the cotinga family, to which the Guianan cock-of-the-rock belong. Birds such as toucans, and hummingbirds are also found here. Macaws are famous for gathering by the hundreds along the clay cliffs of the Amazon River. In the western Amazon hundreds of macaws and other parrots descend to exposed river banks to consume clay on an almost daily basis, the exception being rainy days.

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ANIMAL LIFE - REPTILES                                                                                                               

There are more than 450 species of lizards, snakes, turtles, tortoises, and caiman in the Amazon Basin.

The world's largest snake, the anaconda, inhabits the shallow waters of the Amazon and the Emerald tree boa and boa constrictor live in the Amazonian tree tops. Also the basilisk lizard lives in the Amazon basin.

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CLIMATE AND SEASONS                                                                                                              

The Amazon River basin has a low-water season, and a wet season during which the rivers flood adjacent low lying forests. The climate of the basin is generally hot and humid. In some areas, however, the winter months (June–September) can bring cold snaps, fueled by Antarctic winds travelling along the adjacent Andes mountain range. Such cold conditions can be devastating for some of the region's tropical plant and animal species

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