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The Amazon River

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The 25 Longest Rivers in the World
The River as a Lifeline
The River as a Boundary
Geography links

The Amazon is the world's second-longest river at 3,980 miles. But the Amazon is one of the widest rivers on Earth, at times six whole miles wide. A full 20 percent of the water that pours out of the planet's rivers into the oceans comes from the Amazon.

The Amazon dominates South America, collecting water from 40 percent of the continent, in the form of thousands of tributaries, many of which are themselves more than 1000 miles long.

The Amazon River is part of a larger area called the Amazon Rainforest, which has a unique assortment of plants and animals. In some spots, the vegetation is so dense that sunlight can't reach the rainforest floor.

Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellana gave the river its name and was the first European to travel the length of the river. In 1541-2, he and his men encountered a tribe of fierce women who reminded him of the story from ancient Greece about Amazons, who were warrior women. Perhaps to warn later travelers about these fierce women, he named the river Amazon.

As with the Nile, the people who lived along the Amazon in ancient times used the river for agriculture and transportation. That hasn't changed.



 Facts About the Amazon River


3,980 miles


Iquitos, Peru


Atlantic Ocean, off Brazil

Countries Flows Through

Brazil and Peru

Major Cities Flows By/Through

Manaus and Macapa Brazil; Iquitos, Peru

Where Name Comes From

Amazons, warrior women in the Greek tradition

Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

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