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The mighty Amazon River is the second longest river in the world after the Nile and the largest in terms of volume. It runs for 6400 kilometres from the Peruvian Andes to the Atlantic Ocean crossing several countries in South America, mostly Brazil and Peru. During the wet season the river can reach over 190 km in width, because it is so vast, it is sometimes called The River Sea. Its basin, the largest in the world, covers about 40% of South America.
Most of the river flows through the largest tropical rainforest in the world, the Amazon rainforest, which covers an area of 5.5 million square kilometres. The rainforest sustains 10% of the world’s known species of animals and 20% of the world bird’s species. Almost half a million indigenous Amerindian tribes live in the rainforest. Most tribes live entirely off the forests, savannas and rivers by a mixture of hunting, gathering and fishing. They grow plants for food and medicine and use them to build houses and make everyday objects.
The Amazon river supports over 3000 species of fish and new species are continually discovered. Amongst the many mammals the river hosts the largest specie of river dolphin: the endangered pink river dolphin or boto, the Amazonian manatee and the giant otter. It is also home to a whole host of deadly creatures such as anacondas, flesh–eating piranhas and the black caiman.
The four colours of the Amazon River; black, white, blue and brown; are a source of fascination with black and white waters sometimes flowing distinctly side by side for many kilometres before merging into each other.
Large ocean vessels can navigate the Amazon for 1500 kilometres from the sea to Manaus, smaller ocean vessels can reach as far as Iquitos in Peru, 3600 kilometres from the sea.