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Table of Contents
The Amazon River in South America is the largest river by discharge of water in the world, and the second in length. The Amazon river runs 4,000 miles from the Andes to the sea and is longer than any river but the Nile.
See the fact file below for more information on the Amazon River or download the comprehensive worksheet pack which can be utilized within the classroom or home environment.
Geology of the Amazon River
- The Amazon river is in the continent of South America, within the Amazon Rainforest.
- It runs through Guyana, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru.
- There are over 200 tributaries to the Amazon River. A tributary is a freshwater stream that feeds into a larger stream or river.
- The Amazon river stretches a length of 6400 kilometers (4,000 miles).
- The Amazon is divided into three sections, the Upper Amazon, the Lower Amazon, and the Mouth.
- The river systems and flood plains in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela, whose waters drain into the Solimões and its tributaries, are called the “Upper Amazon”
- The Lower Amazon begins where the darkly colored waters of the Rio Negro meet the sandy-colored Rio Solimões (the upper Amazon), and for over 6 km (3.7 mi) these waters run side by side without mixing.
- The lower Amazon seems to have once been a gulf of the Atlantic Ocean, the waters of which washed the cliffs near Óbidos.
- The definition of where exactly the mouth of the Amazon is located and how wide it is is a matter of dispute because of the area’s peculiar geography.
- The initial source of the Amazon river is Lago Villafro in the Andes Mountains, Peru.
- The largest city along the Amazon River is Manaus. This is a Brazilian city with a population of 1.7 million.
- The mouth of the Amazon river is from Brazil into the Atlantic ocean.
- Belém is the major city and port at the mouth of the river the Atlantic Ocean.
- Although the Amazon River is the second largest in the world, it’s the largest in terms of the size of its watershed, the number of tributaries, and the volume of water it discharges to the sea.
- The plume generated by the river’s discharge covers up to 1.3 million km2 and is responsible for muddy bottoms influencing a wide area of the tropical north Atlantic in terms of salinity, pH, light penetration, and sedimentation.
- There are no bridges across the entire width of the river. This is not because the river would be too wide to bridge; for most of its length, engineers could build a bridge across the river easily. For most of its course, the river flows through the Amazon Rainforest, where there are very few roads and cities.
- Crossing the Amazon River is mostly done by a ferry.
- The Amazon River is so vast that it is estimated to be responsible for one-fifth of the freshwater that reaches the surrounding oceans.
- The Amazon basin, the largest in the world, covers about 40% of South America, an area of approximately 7,050,000 km2.
- The Amazon River and its tributaries are characterized by extensive forested areas that become flooded every rainy season.
- Every year, the river rises more than 9m (30ft), flooding the surrounding forests.
- These forests are known as várzea (“flooded forests”).
- The Amazon’s flooded forests are the most extensive example of this habitat type in the world.
- The Amazon rainforest, which surrounds the Amazon River, is also the largest in the world.
- The Amazon River is home to around 5,600 species of fish, with more that are still unknown to science and being discovered each year.
- The arapaima, known in Brazil as the pirarucu, is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world. It can grow up to 15 feet (4.6 m) in length.
- Another gigantic fish of the Amazon River is the Arowana. It is a predatory fish that can reach a length of 120 cm (47 in).
- The Amazon is also infamous for the piranha. Omnivorous by nature, it can gather in large schools and may attack livestock.
- There are approximately 30 to 60 species of piranha. But only a few species are known to attack humans, most notably, the red-bellied piranha. This tends to happen when water levels are low and food is scarce, like during the dry season or prolonged drought.
- The candirú, native to the Amazon River, is a parasitic freshwater catfish species.
- Another catfish ‘walks’ overland on its ventral fins to reach new pools of water.
- The goliath catfish native to the Amazon River can reach 3.6 m (12 ft) in length and 200 kg (440 lb) in weight.
- The electric eel and more than 100 species of electric fishes inhabit the Amazon basin.
- River stingrays are also found in the Amazon River, as are bull sharks, which have been reported as far as 4,000km (2,500 mi) up the river.
- The Amazon River is home to the endangered pink river Dolphin.
- This is the largest species of river dolphin, and it can grow to lengths of up to 2.6 m (8.5 ft).
- The color of its skin changes with age; young animals are gray, but become pink and then white as they mature.
- The dolphins use echolocation to navigate and hunt in the river’s tricky depths.
- The Amazon and its tributaries are the main habitats of the giant otter.
- It is sometimes known as the “river wolf,” and is one of South America’s top carnivores.
- Because of habitat destruction and hunting, its population has dramatically decreased. It is now listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which effectively bans international trade.
- The Anaconda is found in shallow waters in the Amazon basin. One of the world’s largest species of snake, the anaconda spends most of its time in the water with just its nostrils above the surface.
- Species of caimans, that are related to alligators and other crocodilians, also inhabit the Amazon as do varieties of turtles.
Birds and Butterflies
- The Amazon River basin may be the most speciose region for butterflies. Nine countries have territory in the Amazon River basin or immediately adjoin this region.
- Isolation has led to the evolution of endemic higher taxa.
- The Hyacinth macaw is the largest parrot in the world. It is 4 feet (1.2 m) long from beak to tail.
- The Toco toucan is the largest species in the toucan family.
- The Blue and yellow macaw is one of the prettiest Amazon Rainforest birds.
- Also abundant are the Scarlet macaw, Spectacled owl, Hoatzin, Jabiru stork, and the Laughing falcon.
- It is estimated that there are over 800 plant species of economic or social value in this forest, but this is constantly being amended.
- Palms are thought to be the most abundant plant in the Amazon Rainforest. The most abundant is the açai palm (Euterpe oleracea), which is a canopy species growing over 20 meters (65 ft) tall. Their berries feed a diversity of animals, including macaws, parrots, toucans, monkeys, and more.
- Myrtles, laurels, bignonias, figs, Spanish cedars, mahogany, and rosewoods are common. They support a myriad of epiphytes (plants living on other plants)—such as orchids, bromeliads, and cacti—as well as ferns and mosses.
- 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.
- Species of tropical trees native to the Amazon include Brazil nut, rubber tree, and Assai palm.
The Amazon River and People
- In the Pre-Colombian era, the Amazon River was especially important to Amazonian societies as it facilitated trade with Andean civilizations and agriculture in South America’s highlands.
- There is a lot of archaeological evidence to show that there were many large and complex societies that lived in towns and cities along the Amazon River.
- After the arrival of Europeans, the river was explored. The Spanish Conquistador, Vincent Yanez Pinson, is believed to have been the first European to do so in March 1500.
- In the 19th century, many explorers from Europe arrived to document the plants and animals that lived in and around the river.
- Moving into the colonial era, the Amazon River was used to facilitate the economic exploitation of the Amazon region. Steamboats were built to navigate the river and its many tributaries. Economic development from steamboats saw towns and commerce develop deep into the Amazon region, especially where rubber plantations could be grown.
- Unfortunately, the deeper people ventured up the Amazon River, the more indigenous people became exposed to diseases and exploitation.
- In the 20th century, much of the area around the Amazon River remained uncultivated, until the 1960s when exploitation of the Amazon basin was seen as a way to boost the economy.
- The Amazon River itself has no dams, but there are over 400 dams on its tributaries. More damming projects are underway to try and develop hydroelectric power. This is very controversial because of the effects of damming on ecosystems.
Amazon River Worksheets
This bundle includes 11 ready-to-use Amazon River worksheets that are perfect for students to learn about the Amazon river which runs 4,000 miles from the Andes to the sea and is longer than any river but the Nile.
This download includes the following worksheets:
- Amazon River Facts
- Tracing Amazon River
- Amazon River Word Search
- Fact or Bluff
- What am I?
- Longest Rivers
- Legend from the River
- Poet’s Corner
- Citizen of the World
- Map of Ideas
- Slogan Making
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there dolphins in the Amazon River?
Yes! The Amazon River is home to the endangered freshwater dolphin.
What is the Amazon River famous for?
It is the greatest river in South America and boasts the largest drainage system in the world.
How did the Amazon River get its name?
It is believed that one of the early Spanish explorers came into conflict with an indigenous tribe and was attacked by female warriors. So he named the river after the mythological Greek female warriors, the Amazons.
What countries does the Amazon flow through?
The Amazon River flows through five countries from its source to the Atlantic ocean: Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Brazil.
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Link will appear as Amazon River Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 6, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.