Amazon Rainforest...
Lungs of the Planet


Amazonia or Amazon rainforest covers more than half of Brazil and it's the world's largest tropical rainforest.

The word rainforest was coined in 1898 by a German botanist to describe forests that grow in constantly wet conditions.

It's been named "Lungs of the Planet" because nearly 20% of the world's oxygen is produced by it.

Its name comes from the Amazon river, the largest river system in the world, with 1,100 tributaries and a drainage basin of 2,700,000 sq. miles.

Amazon river is the lifeline of the rainforest and most of its water comes from the snow melt in the Andes of Peru - it originates high up in the mountains and formed by the join efforts of the Ucayali and MaraƱon rivers.


It also receives about nine feet of rain every year during rainy season, causing the water level to rise between 30 and 45 feet.
Whenever rain falls in the river basin, it all drains into the jungle and the Amazon river.

Tens of millions of acres get flooded creating the world's highest level of biodiversity.
With temperatures constant ant 75-80 degrees F. it provides the perfect conditions for life.

See a larger Map and if you have a minute to spare, listen to rainforest sounds.

In fact, within its range live over a million different species of animals, mammals such as the Amazon Pink river dolphin or the Amazonian manatee, more than 2,000 Amazon river fish species - more species than in the entire Atlantic ocean - birds, insects and spiders, being the insect world the one with more diversity - over 500,000 species of insects and spiders alone.

Read some more facts about the jungle here.


Amazon rainforest is home to many strangest looking, largest and smallest, most dangerous and least frightening, loudest and quietest animals on Earth.
Visit Rainforest Animals to know more about it.

Native indigenous tribes have lived there for over 20,000 years now.

However different in dialects spoken, customs and levels of bellicosity, they all share and developed their own ways of life in harmony with nature.

The arrival of Europeans and foreigners in general to the jungle - particularly in the last century or so -has disrupted this balance due to a number of reasons and threatened their lives and habitat to the verge of extinction.

Read more about deforestation here.

Amazon rainforest is vertically divided in four layers and each of them has a unique ecosystem, animals and plants...

  • Emergent:
    It's the uppermost layer also known as the Dominants.
    The tallest trees are found here, towering as much as 200 feet above the forest floor and up to 16 feet around. A good example is the great kapok tree.
    Many of the birds, including eagles and parrots inhabit there.

  • Canopy:
    The primary layer of the forest.
    An estimated 70 to 90% of life in the rainforest exists in the trees. It's home of monkeys and parakeets among many others.

    Leaves in the canopy act like miniature solar panes.
    Through photosynthesis - the process of converting sunlight into energy - they provide the source of power to the forest.
    For that reason, these plants have a higher yield of fruits, seeds and flowers, attracting a wide diversity of animals and birds such as toucan.

    In addition, they play an important role in regulating regional and global climate, because it's the principal site of interchange of heat, water, vapor and atmospheric gases. Please visit Amazon rainforest canopy for more info.

  • Understory:
    Little sunshine reaches this area - only 2-15% of the sunshine that falls on the canopy.
    Plants here have to grow larger leaves to reach sunlight.
    It's home of lichens, orchids and ferns.

  • Forest Floor:
    Darkest area of the rainforest since less than 2% of sunshine reaches the forest floor.
    In consequence, decay here occurs quickly for leaves, seeds and fruits.
    It's home of the largest animals of the forest.

At present time, unfortunately, an estimated 47% of the Amazon rainforest has been deforested, occupied or altered by human activity.
Only 53% could be considered "intact".

It's threatened by illegal gold mining, hunting, unsustainable logging, irregular agriculture and cattle ranching, dams, fires as well as gas and oil exploitation.
More on this at deforestation page.

Amazon rainforest is on the brink of becoming a vast desert.

Scientists believe that destruction could become irreversible within a decade.

For a vast listing of resources, plant and animal life, native tribes, endangered species and conservation facts and dangers, please visit The South America Travel Library.