The Amazon Basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries. The basin is located mainly (40%) in Brazil, but also stretches into Peru and several other countries. The South American rain forest of the Amazon is the largest in the world, covering about 8,235,430 km2 with dense tropical forest. For centuries, this has protected the area and the animals residing in it.
Not all of the big plant and animal live in the Amazon Basin are known because of its huge unexplored areas. No one knows how many species of fish there are in the river. Plant growth is dense because of the heavy rainfall. One tropical fruit tree that is native to the Amazon is the abiu.
The Amazon Basin has an equatorial climate. This means the area is wet with annual rain fall of 1500-2500 mm, a day temperature 30-35 C and night temperature 20-25 C and Humidity is very high.
Amazonian indigenous people
The Amazon Basin includes a diversity of traditional inhabitants as well as biodiversity in both flora and fauna. These peoples have lived in the rain forest for thousands of years, and their lifestyles and cultures are well-adapted to this environment.
The Amazon basin has been continuously inhabited for more than 12,000 years, since the first proven arrivals of people in South America. Those peoples, when found by European explorers in the 16th century, were scattered in hundreds of small tribes with no writing system except for the part ruled by the Inca Empire. Perhaps as many as 90 percent of the inhabitants died because of European diseases within the first hundred years of contact many tribes perished even before direct contact with Europeans, as their germs traveled faster than explorers, infecting village after village.
Upon the European discovery of America, the Portuguese and the Spanish signed the Treaty of Tordesillas, which divided the continents in two: a large Spanish western part, which encompassed all of then unknown North America and Central America, in addition to western South America; while the Portuguese received Eastern South America, which later became modern eastern Brazil. The Spanish claim was confirmed by explorers, most notably by the expedition of Francisco de Orellana in 1541-42
By the late 17th century Portuguese/Brazilian explorers had dominated much of the Amazon basin because the mouth of the Amazon river lay within the Portuguese side, and the Brazilian inward exploration venturers such as the Bandeirantes, who originated in São Paulo, had conquered much of what is today central Brazil (states of Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás) and then proceeded to the Amazon. In 1750 the Treaty of Madrid certified the transfer of most of the Amazon basin and the region of Mato Grosso to the Portuguese side, hugely contributing to the continental size of what is now Brazil.
In 1903 Brazil bought a large portion of northern Bolivia and made it its current state of Acre. In 2006 the new socialist Bolivian president Evo Morales talked about "getting it back. The Brazilians got it for the price of a horse". No action was taken and the two nations remain friendly. In the late 19th century, a US-Brazilian joint venture failed to implement the Madeira-Mamoré railway, in the state of Rondônia, with a huge cost in money and lives.
Intense deforestation began in the second half of the 20th century, with population growth and development plans such as the failed Brazilian Trans-Amazonian Highway. In the late 1980s the Brazilian Chico Mendes, who lived in Acre, became internationally famous for his passionate defense of the forest and its people, especially after he was shot to death by farmers whose interests he harmed.
Amazonia is not heavily populated. There are a few cities along the Amazon's banks, such as Iquitos, Peru and scattered settlements inland, but most of the population lives in cities, such as Manaus and Belém in Brazil. In many regions, the forest has been cleared for soy bean plantations and ranching (the most extensive non-forest use of the land) and some of the inhabitants harvest wild rubber latex and Brazil nuts. This is a form of extractive farms, where the trees are not cut down, and thus this is a relatively sustainable human impact.
The Amazon basin is bounded by the Guiana Highlands to the north and the Brazilian Highlands to the south. The Amazon, which rises in the Andes Mountains at the west of the basin, is the second longest river in the world. It covers a distance of about 6,400 km before draining into the Atlantic Ocean. The Amazon and its tributaries form the largest volume of water. The Amazon accounts for about 20% of the total water carried to the oceans by rivers.Some of the Amazon Rainforest is deforested because of a growing interest in hardwood products. It is also very grassy.
The most widely spoken language in the Amazon is Portuguese, followed closely by Spanish. On the Brazilian side Portuguese is spoken by at least 98% of the population, whilst in the Spanish-speaking countries there can still be found a large amount of speakers of Native American languages, though Spanish easily predominates.
There are hundreds of native languages still spoken in the Amazon, most of which are spoken by only a handful of people, and thus seriously endangered. One of the most widely spoken languages in the Amazon is Nheengatu, which is actually descended from the ancient Tupi language, originally spoken in coastal and central regions of Brazil, and brought to its present location along the Rio Negro by Brazilian colonizers, who until the mid-17th century used Tupi more than the official Portuguese to communicate. Besides modern Nheengatu, other languages of the Tupi Family are spoken there, along with other language families like Jê (with its important subbranch Jayapura spoken in the Xingu River region and othes), Arawak, Karib, Arawá, Yanomamo, Matsés and others. French, Spanish, and Portuguese are all similar to and derived from Latin.
- Bibliography on Water Resources and International Law Peace Palace Library
- Information and a map of the Amazon's watershed
- The Amazon basin : Fluvial ecosystems - Wetlands - Fluvial dynamics - Economic importane - An uncertain future (french)
- Amazon biogeography (French, English, Spanish)
- Amazon Alliance-For Indigenous and Traditional Peoples of the Amazon Basin (Englis, Spanish)
- Herndon and Gibbon Lieutenants United States Navy The First North American Explorers of the Amazon Valley, by Historian Normand E. Klare. Actual Reports from the explorers are compared with present Amazon Basin conditions.
- Territorial-Environmental Information System of Colombian Amazon SIAT-AC
- Amazon Alive: Light & Shadow documentary film about the Amazon Basin
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