The Amazon River originates in the foothills of the Andes, and flows for 4,000 miles through Brazil, Peru, Venezuela and Colombia. The Amazon river is over 6,000 miles long and has millions of animals in its ecosystem. The Amazon is home to tapirs, jaguars and some species found nowhere else on earth. Over 500 species of fish are found only in the Amazon River and its surrounding forests, including catfish weighing up to 440 lbs, piranhas with teeth like razor blades, and electric eels that can deliver a powerful shock through their entire bodies as they swim.
There are a lot more Amazon River facts for kids to reveal! Whether you are curious about this amazing river or simply want to find new information about the Amazon River, we are sure these cool facts below are what you are looking for. From the history of the Amazon River name to fun facts you may never know, you will find them all here. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- 1. The World’s Largest River By Volume
- 2. It’s Named After A Greek Myth
- 3. The Amazon River Once Flowed Backwards
- 4. The Second Longest River On Earth
- 5. The Only Shark Lives In Amazon River
- 6. Home To The Amazon River Dolphin
- 7. It Has Over 100 Dams That Impact On River Environment
- 8. It Has No Bridge
- 9. It Crosses Through Nine Countries
- 10. Rain Makes 40% Water In South America Ends Up At Amazon River
- 11. An Athlete Swam The Entire Length Of The Amazon River In 66 Days
- 12. The Amazon River Has 20% Of The World’s Freshwater Supply
- 13. The Biggest Fish In Amazon River
- 14. Coral Reef System At The Amazon River Delta Discovered
- 15. Dangerous Canoe Trip To The Amazon River From Canada
1. The World’s Largest River By Volume
Of all the rivers in the world, the Amazon River has the most freshwater. Every second, the river discharges about 200,000 liters of freshwater into the ocean. Together, these freshwater flows make up around 20% of all river water that reaches the ocean, making it the largest river by volume in the world.
In the Peruvian Andes, a little brook gives rise to the Amazon river. Over the northern half of South America, it curves its way east. Eventually, it will grow and spread out to transport around 20% of the freshwater on the earth to the sea.
2. It’s Named After A Greek Myth
Francisco de Orellana, the first European to arrive in the region, called the Amazon River and the Amazon Rainforest after coming into contact with the local Pira-tapuya inhabitants. Pira-tapuya men and women battled side by side in a conflict against de Orellana and his troops. Greek mythology describes the “Amazons” as a band of nomadic female warriors that traveled the Black Sea.
The Scythians, a people group renowned for being experts in horseback riding and archery, are the basis for the tale of the Amazons, which is partly fictional. Despite not being an all-female civilization as the Greek myth suggests, women in Scythian society participated in both hunting and combat alongside men. According to this narrative, de Orellana is said to have named the river “the Amazon” after his conflict with the Pira-tapuyas, comparing the Pira-tapuya women to the Amazons of Greek myth.
3. The Amazon River Once Flowed Backwards
The Amazon River used to run in the opposite direction from how it does today, towards the Pacific Ocean, between 65 and 145 million years ago. When the Amazon River’s flow shifted from west to east, forming the huge Amazon River that exists today with water flowing towards the Atlantic Ocean, a really amazing enigma resulted. There used to be a hill where the mouth of the Amazon River is now, allowing for this westerly flow. The westward ascent of the Andes Mountains caused the Amazon River to change its course.
Additionally, it is thought by experts that the breakup of South America and Africa caused the river to flow in the opposite direction as the entire landmass altered over time. The progressive modifications in the flow of hot, viscous rock deep beneath the South American continent also contributed to the about-face.
4. The Second Longest River On Earth
The Amazon River is the second-longest river in the world at around 4,000 miles. This makes the river the longest in South America. The 4,132-mile-long Nile River is longer than the amazing length of the Amazon. The Yangtze River, which is only around 85 miles shorter than the Amazon, is the next-longest river after the Amazon.
Major river systems that branch off of this river can be found in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. However, the Andes are thought to be the Amazon River’s most remote source, according to Brazilian scientists. This source is reportedly a glacial stream that travels around 700 kilometers from the Nevado Mismi summit in the Peruvian Andes.
5. The Only Shark Lives In Amazon River
The bull shark is the only species of shark that may be found in the Amazon River. Although freshwater is typically thought of as being safer than the ocean, this isn’t always the case! The Amazon River is the world’s largest river by volume, and it is also the home of a shark that is extremely hazardous.
Bull sharks frequently get captured in the Amazon after migrating inland from the ocean. These sharks have been caught in rivers, estuaries, lakes, and other water bodies. They are known to reside in salt, fresh, and brackish waters.
6. Home To The Amazon River Dolphin
One of only four “genuine” river dolphin species is the Amazon River Dolphin, also referred to as the pink river dolphin or boto. River dolphins only inhabit freshwater environments, in contrast to their ocean-dwelling siblings. The Amazon River Dolphin is thought to have evolved some 18 million years ago, according to a fossilized dolphin that was found in Peru’s Pisco Basin.
The Amazon River dolphin is relatively common in the waters of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers, but due to recent population losses brought on by a variety of human activities, it is today regarded as an endangered species. The pollution and damming of the Amazon River have an especially negative impact on dolphin populations. Additionally, fishermen kill dolphins to use as bait.
7. It Has Over 100 Dams That Impact On River Environment
A 2018 study found that there are 142 dams in the Andean headwaters of the Amazon River, and another 160 are planned. However, the flow to the Amazon delta may be completely eliminated by the construction of hundreds of new dams. Studies of tropical rivers that have been dammed all over the world demonstrate that dams and reservoirs can have unanticipated effects, such as a considerable rise in greenhouse gas production.
The Amazon River system’s environment is harmed by the dams, which produce hydropower, which is used to generate electricity. Fish in the Madeira River, a section of the Amazon River in Brazil, have already been reported to be suffering harmful consequences, which scientists ascribe to the construction of hydroelectric dams.
8. It Has No Bridge
The 10 million inhabitants who reside along the Amazon River’s banks may only access the freshwater flow by boat, not bridges. But, why could it happen? The periodic fluctuations in the Amazon River bed contribute to the lack of bridges. The Amazon River can surge more than 30 feet during the wet season, in some areas triple its width.
With each seasonal inundation of rains, the Amazon’s soft riverbanks erode, turning once-steady sections into unstable floodplains. To have a firm footing, any bridge built to cross the Amazon River would have to be extremely long. There aren’t many roads that lead to the Amazon River, therefore most people rely on the river for transportation.
9. It Crosses Through Nine Countries
Brazil holds the vast majority of the Amazon River, which flows through Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, Peru, and the rest of the world. Even more nations are included in the Amazon River’s watershed, or the regions from which it draws freshwater. Rainfall from Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela also contributes significantly to the freshwater supply of the Amazon River.
Every year, the lowlands around the river and its tributaries flood, greatly enhancing the soil there. In addition, the basin is more than two thirds covered in selva, a type of rainforest.
10. Rain Makes 40% Water In South America Ends Up At Amazon River
Did you know that the Amazon river is super wet during the rainy season? Because the Amazon River receives around 40% of the water from all of South America, its height increases significantly during the rainy season. The watershed of the Amazon River catches precipitation from kilometers around the river, including the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Rainforest, like a broad net.
The largest rainforest on Earth is found in the Amazon River Basin. About 40% of the South American continent, including portions of eight South American countries, is covered by the basin, which is about the size of the forty-eight contiguous United States.
11. An Athlete Swam The Entire Length Of The Amazon River In 66 Days
Martin Strel conquered the huge Amazon River in 2007 and won his fourth Guinness World Record for long-distance swimming, defying risks in the basin’s most isolated areas. Strel, a seasoned athlete who had previously completed swims down the Danube, Mississippi, Parana, and Yangtze rivers, covered a total distance of 5,268 kilometers, which is longer than the Atlantic Ocean’s width. In 66 days, he broke the record.
He avoided swimming close to river banks and used kerosene and cream on his wetsuit to repel flesh-eating piranhas. In order to divert any hungry animals, he also has support boats flanking him that are prepared to drop raw meat and blood into the river.
12. The Amazon River Has 20% Of The World’s Freshwater Supply
When one considers it, the percentage is astounding. The Amazon River Delta in northern Brazil is where one-fifth of the freshwater that enters the oceans on our planet enters the Atlantic. The Amazon River has 1,100 tributaries and releases the most water into the Atlantic with 20.8 billion gallons per minute, reducing the salinity of the ocean for more than 100 miles offshore. Nine years’ worth of freshwater for New York City can be obtained from the water that the Amazon rivers release into the Atlantic each day.
Beginning as a little torrent in the Peruvian Andes, the Amazon river flows east over the northern half of South America, swelling and spreading out to transport almost 20% of the world’s fresh water to sea. What’s more, the Amazonian trees emit 20 billion tons of moisture into the atmosphere on a typical bright day, which seeds the clouds with rain.
13. The Biggest Fish In Amazon River
Arapaima gigas, sometimes referred to as pirarucu, is a type of arapaima that is indigenous to the Amazon River basin. This species, which was once thought to be the only one in the genus, is among the biggest freshwater fish. The largest fish in the Amazon River is now Arapaima gigas. The species must frequently surface in order to breathe air because they are obligate air-breathers.
Because they must breathe oxygen to survive, arapaimas can only submerge for 10 to 20 minutes. They often use a modified swim bladder that opens into the fish’s mouth and serves as a lung to stay close to the water’s surface before rising to breathe.
14. Coral Reef System At The Amazon River Delta Discovered
The Amazon River, which is famous for its diverse species, including flesh-eating piranhas and pink dolphins, also unveiled an amazing discovery: a huge coral reef that runs for over 600 kilometers. In 2016, researchers found a massive coral reef right where the river and ocean converge. The reef is said to be home to a distinctive ecosystem composed of a plethora of marine species, but it has been hidden from plain view for decades because of the enormous sediment upheaval brought on by the river’s flow.
The presence of the reef was first suspected in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the discovery was officially made, and it wasn’t until 2017 that the first images were made public. In the past few years, scientists have found a staggering variety of exotic fish, sea stars, sponges, and coral, as well as enormous sea sponges that are “as hefty as a tiny elephant.” Greenpeace, which conducted the first known study of the reef, quickly launched a campaign to safeguard this amazing new natural find from the impending threat of oil drilling.
15. Dangerous Canoe Trip To The Amazon River From Canada
On a canoe, Don Starkell and his two boys, Dana and Jeff, set out for the Amazon River from Winnipeg in 1980. Jeff, who was only 18 years old, intended to pursue a fall study of electronics. He had a lot of reservations about going. Dana, 19, was a working rock guitarist who tended to daydream more and was more likely to go with his instincts for two years.
When they arrived in Mexico, Jeff decided to end the dangerous tour, but Don and Dana continued. The father-and-son team arrived in the Amazon River almost two years later. They paddled more than 12,000 kilometers in total by the end of the journey.