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Orinoco is a South American river flowing from Brazil through Venezuela to the Atlantic Ocean. The Orinoco is one of the longest rivers in South America at 2,140 kilometers. Orinoquia, the term for its drainage basin, covers 880,000 km2 (340,000 square miles), with 76.3 percent of it in Venezuela and the remainder in Colombia. The Orinoco is the third largest river in the world by discharge volume of water. Together with its tributaries, the Orinoco is the major transportation system for eastern and interior Venezuela and the llanos of Colombia.
See the fact file below for more information on the Orinoco or alternatively, you can download our 26-page Orinoco worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The name Orinoco is derived from Warao (Guarauno) words meaning “a place to paddle” or, in other words, a navigable place.
- The mouth of the Orinoco was documented on August 1, 1498 during the third voyage of Christopher Columbus.
- Its source at the Cerro Delgado–Chalbaud, in the Parima range, was unrecognized until 1951, 453 years later.
- The source, near the Venezuelan–Brazilian border, is 1,047 meters (3,435 ft) above sea level and was explored in 1951 by a Venezuelan–French team.
- In the 16th century, the Orinoco delta and Apure and Meta tributaries were explored by German expeditions under Ambrosius Ehinger and his successors.
- In 1531, Diego de Ordaz sailed up the river to the Meta starting from the main outlet in the delta.
- Antonio de Berrio sailed down the Casanare to the Meta, and then down the Orinoco and back to Coro.
- In 1595, Englishman Sir Walter Raleigh sailed down the river, reaching the savannah country after he captured de Barrio to conduct an expedition to find the fabled city of El Dorado.
- In 1800, Alexander von Humboldt explored the basin, reporting on the pink river dolphins. He published extensively on the river’s flora and fauna.
- The Angostura Bridge, the first bridge across the Orinoco, at Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela was completed in 1967.
- In 2006, the Orinoquia Bridge, the second bridge near Ciudad Guayana, was completed.
- The Orinoco flows in a wide ellipsoidal arc, surrounding the Guiana Shield, and is divided into four stretches of unequal length that roughly correspond to the longitudinal zonation of a typical large river:
- Upper Orinoco, 144 miles (242 kilometers) long, a narrow river with waterfalls that flows through the mountainous landscape in a northwesterly direction.
- Middle Orinoco, 450 miles (750 kilometers) long, flows northward along the Venezuelan–Colombian border, flanked on both sides by the westernmost granitic upwellings of the Guiana Shield which impede the development of a flood plain, to the Atures rapids near the confluence with the Meta River at Puerto Carreño.
- Lower Orinoco, 596 miles (959 kilometers) long with a well-developed alluvial plain, flows in a northeast direction, from Atures rapids down to Piacoa in front of Barrancas.
- Delta Amacuro, 124 miles (200 kilometers) long, empties into the Gulf of Paría and the Atlantic Ocean, a very large delta—some 12,000 square miles (30,000 square kilometers) and 230 miles (370 kilometers)—at its widest.
- The Orinoco basin has a tropical climate with only slight changes in average temperature throughout the year.
- It has only two seasons—a rainy winter season that runs from April through October or November, and a dry summer season that lasts from November through March or April.
- The precipitation in the entire basin area varies greatly, with coastal regions receiving less than 20 inches and some inland areas receiving enough rainfall to be considered a rainforest.
FLORA AND FAUNA
- Most of the natural trees in the region have been eradicated by deforestation. The trees that survive in the open savanna are mainly those that have adapted to the dry conditions, such as the chaparro (scrub oak) and the dwarf palm, as well as sedges and swamp grasses.
- Along the river growing in rich alluvial soil are the morichales, named after the miriti or moriche palm.
- There are over one thousand species of birds in the region, including the scarlet ibis, umbrella bird, bellbird, flamingo, and colorful parrots.
- There are also bountiful species of fish such as electric eels, catfish often weighing over 200 pounds, and the Caribe Piranha or Pygocentrus cariba, commonly considered the most aggressive piranha of the Characidae family. The Boto, also known as the Amazon River dolphin, that can grow up to nine feet in length, boa constrictors, and caimans are also known to inhabit the Orinoco River system.
- The Orinoco Crocodile, reaching over 20 feet, is one of the rarest reptiles in the world, with fewer than 250 specimens known to exist in the wild. Its present-day range is restricted to the Orinoco basin.
- The Highlands are rich in mineral deposits such as iron ore, manganese, nickel, vanadium, bauxite, and chrome. There are also deposits of gold and diamonds. Petroleum and natural gas deposits are abundant in the delta area.
- Agricultural products include cotton, rice, and sugarcane.
THE BASIN AND THE MAJOR RIVERS
- The huge Orinoco river basin, estimated at between 880,000 and 1,200,000 square kilometers, has a huge tropical forest covering the southwestern section of the basin. Much of it is inaccessible. North of the Orinoco are vast, grassy plains known as llanos.
- The Guiana Highlands, also called the Guiana Shield, covers the remainder of the area which forms a portion of the northern coast of the continent. It is a two billion-year-old Precambrian geological formation, possibly the oldest on the planet, that hosts the impressive and mysterious table-like mountains called tepuis. Its highlands are the source of some of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls such as Angel Falls, Kaieteur Falls and Kuquenan Falls.
- Major rivers: Apure, Arauca, Atabapo, Caroní, Casiquiare canal, Caura, Guaviare, Inírida, Meta, Ventuari and Vichada.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Orinoco across 26 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Orinoco worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Orinoco which is a South American river flowing from Brazil through Venezuela to the Atlantic Ocean. The Orinoco is one of the longest rivers in South America at 2,140 kilometers. Orinoquia, the term for its drainage basin, covers 880,000 km2 (340,000 square miles), with 76.3 percent of it in Venezuela and the remainder in Colombia. The Orinoco is the third largest river in the world by discharge volume of water. Together with its tributaries, the Orinoco is the major transportation system for eastern and interior Venezuela and the llanos of Colombia.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Orinoco Facts
- Factual Thoughts
- All About Orinoco
- Orinoco Historical Ladder
- Endangered Species
- Vocabulary Time
- Major Rivers
- Natural Resources
- Orinoco’s Flora and Fauna
- The 4 Parts
- Save the River
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Link will appear as Orinoco Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, November 21, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
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