The Amazon rainforest grows in the tropical basin of the Amazon River, is the world’s largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest, covers 5,500,000 square kilometers (1.4 billion acres) with more than one-third of the world’s species living there, and was formed an amazing 55 million years ago!
Although the rainforest includes territory that belongs to nine nations, the majority of the forest is contained within Brazil that has 60 percent, followed by Peru with only 13 percent.
The Amazon River is the Earth’s most voluminous river, is the second longest river in the world with the Nile being the first, is 11 times the volume of the Mississippi River, and drains an area equal to the size of the United States. The river’s daily discharge of freshwater out into the Atlantic Ocean surprisingly, for example, could supply New York City’s freshwater requirements for nine years! The basin, which is approximately the size of the 48 contiguous United States, covers 40 percent of the South American continent.
The Amazon is made up of a mosaic of ecosystems and vegetation types including the rainforest with its variable tree diversity.
There is a long history of human settlement; and with the introduction of mechanized agriculture, the region has been integrated into the global economy. Vast amounts of commodities such as timber, cattle beef and leather, timber, oil and gas, soy and minerals are some of what is being exported today to Europe, China, the United States, and other countries.
Government of Brazil is Protecting the Rainforest
The Brazilian government in October of 2014 placed an environmentally rich area of that rainforest under federal protection, and that created a federal reserve that is larger than the state of Delaware in the United States.
The new reserve, Alto Maues, is comprised of 6,680 square km (668,000 hectares, 1.65 million acres) of forests that are mostly untouched, are not known to have human presence, and is home to a minimum of 13 species of primates and over 600 species of birds.
A federal reserve means that forest clearing and development are forbidden. Putting substantial areas of rainforest under federal protection is a tool used to combat the ongoing deforestation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation is the main cause of carbon emissions in Brazil.