Into the Depths of the Amazon
Throughout the centuries people have tried to overcome the dominance of nature. No
bridge spans the river, which is the largest in the world in terms of watershed area,
number of tributaries, and volume of water discharged. The dense jungle of the Amazon
Basin has warded much human settlement. In some areas vegetation is so thick that sunlight
can't even reach the forest floor. Where did the word Amazon come from? A Greek myth.
Francisco de Orellana was a Spanish conquistador and the first European to travel the
length of the Amazon river, in 1541-42. Along the way, he and his men ran into a tribe of
fierce women warriors, each "doing as much fighting as ten Indian men." Orellana
recalled the Greek myth of warrior women and named the entire river "Amazonas."
The main headstream of the Amazon rises high in the Andes, rushing through waterfalls and gorges before entering the enormous tropical Amazon Basin. The largest portion of the basin are found in Brazil, includes parts of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia as well as a small part of Venezuela. Unlike many large rivers, the Amazon is very wide and straight until you get to the mouth of the river where it enters the Atlantic Ocean.
Measuring about 4000 mi. length, the river drains about 2.3 million square miles. During new and full moons, a tidal bore, or wave front from the ocean, sweeps some 400 miles upstream at speeds in excess of 40 miles per hour. This phenomenon often causes waves up to 16 feet in height.
In many stream valleys, inhabitants hostile to strangers continue to live much as they did before the arrival of the Europeans. The economy of the region is dominated by primitive agriculture, hunting and fishing, and the gathering of various forest products. Commercial farming, tourism, and industry play only a minor role in the region, but mining, oil drilling, and lumbering, the principal economic activities, are increasingly important.
The Amazon support the world with most of the oxygen while taking away the carbon dioxide gas. We are destroying the Amazon at an alarming rate. In 20 years the Amazon and all of the other rainforest in this world will be destroyed. We have to help safe this wonderful forest of green so our grandchildren may have a better life with no pollutants.
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