The Amazon rainforest is the world’s biggest rainforest and about 60% of it falls within Brazil’s borders! The area is lauded for its incredible biodiversity, containing 10% of the world’s known flora and fauna.
More and more of the Amazon is destroyed each year. The forest is an incredible resource—both scientifically and economically—so it is crucial that we take good care of it. Here are 10 facts that will prove just how amazing the Amazon is!
1. The Amazon basin is the size of 48 contiguous United States (about 3.8 million square miles)! If it were a country, it would be the 9th largest in the world.
2. 20% of Earth’s oxygen is derived from the Amazon rainforest alone.
3. The Amazon River empties 28 billion gallons into the Atlantic every minute and contains 16% of all the world’s river water.
4. Billions of years ago the Amazon River flowed west-ward instead of east-ward as it does today. The change in direction is due to the formation of the Andes Mountains!
5. Areas that receive rainfall or water from the Amazon contribute to 70% of South America’s GDP. The weather patterns are so powerful that the Amazon influences rainfall as far away as the US!
6. The rainforest is a huge moneymaker: 1 acre of timber harvested from the rainforest nets $400 per year and ranching cattle on 1 acre nets $60 each year. However, both of these practices damage the environment. Sustainably harvesting resources from an acre of rainforest can net $2400 per year and also employs local natives!
7. A recent study found that a 3°C rise is world temperatures would destroy around 75% of the Amazon.
8. It is estimated that there were 10 million indigenous people living in the Amazon rainforest 500 years ago. Today, there are less than 200,000.
9. Today, there are between 400 and 500 different indigenous tribes living in the Amazon rainforest and it is believed that about 50 of them have never been in contact with the outside world!
10. The rainforest canopy, the top branches and leaves of the trees, is so thick that the Amazon floor is in permanent darkness. When it rains, it takes around ten minutes for the water to reach the ground!