What Is the Amazon Basin?

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  • Written By: Kathy Heydasch
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The Amazon Basin is a huge tropical rainforest area in South America that contains the Amazon river, the second longest river in the world, and its tributaries. Nearly half of the Amazon Basin is located in Brazil, but parts of it stretch into other South American countries as well. It covers an area over 3 million square miles, or over 8 million square kilometers, and contains some of the richest biodiversity found on the planet.

A tropical rainforest climate is one in which all months of the year have average precipitation of at least 2.36 inches (60 mm). As with most tropical climates, the Amazon Basin is found near the equator. It has little to no drought times and no season changes, making its climate as well as its wildlife somewhat unique.

There are few major cities in the Amazon Basin, and most of these are located on the Amazon river itself. The few scattered settlements found away from the river that are part of larger society typically focus on farming and ranching. Some residents in the area harvest rubber latex and Brazil nuts, both of which have minimal impact on the land, unlike farming which clears large areas of the forest.


Portuguese and Spanish are the most common languages spoken by inhabitants of the area, but there are hundreds of languages spoken by isolated tribes. Many of these tribes and their languages are in danger of becoming extinct as modern society expands its reaches. Extensive deforestation has occurred in much of the Amazon Basin, and efforts are undertaken every day to protect the natural habitats.

Much of the Amazon Basin is yet unexplored, increasing both its uniqueness and its value to the world. Thus in recent decades, many efforts have been made to save the rainforest from industry and development. This has resulted in companies needing to shift policy and procedure in order to satisfy consumers. Many products that contain components found in rainforests are certified to be “rainforest friendly,” meaning they only use products from companies that do not destroy any part of the Amazon Basin or any other rainforest.

The Amazon Basin is bordered on the north by the Guiana Highlands, on the south by the Brazilian Highlands and on the west by the Andes Mountains. Particularly prone to flooding, the valley's waterways constitute approximately 20% of the total amount of water carried by rivers into oceans. The Amazon River, which is approximately 4,000 miles (6,400 km) long, drains into the Atlantic Ocean.


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