THE AMAZON BASIN
Amazonia is the largest tropical rain forest in the world. Originally, more than 2 million square miles of the region were covered by dense tropical forest. For centuries, its vastness and inaccessibility have protected the preponderant part of the forest, and still do so today. However, over the past 30 years, road building projects and colonization schemes are endangering certain areas.
The largest of the world's rivers in terms of volume of water discharged into the sea is the Amazon. This mightiest of rivers forms a network of water channels that permeates nearly half the continent of South America. The main river, the Amazon River, is some 4,080 miles long, second only to the Nile in length. It is fed by more than 1,000 tributaries, including seven that are more than 1,000 miles long, and it drains more than half of Brazil, as well as parts of Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela.
Over most of this vast region the climate is very warm and humid. Rain falls about 200 days each year, and total rainfall exceeds 80 inches per year. One result of so much rain is that Amazonia is covered by the largest tropical rain forest in the world. Another result is that the river carries by far the largest volume of water of any river in the world.
The Amazon River begins as hundreds of tiny streams high in the Peruvian Andes, some of them within 100 miles of the Pacific Ocean. Rushing down the slopes, stream after stream continues to merge to form larger and larger rivers. Near Iquitos in eastern Peru, the northeastward flowing Ucayali and the Rio Marañón, the two main headwaters of the Amazon, unite to form a truly major river.
The Amazon Basin has the greatest biodiversity per square metre anywhere on Earth. In the Peruvian Amazonia, the main three destinations to visit in order to experience the Amazon Life and to appreciate its wealth of animal and plant life, are Manu, Puerto Maldonado and Tambopata in the south west of Peru, and Iquitos in the north east of Peru.