The Amazon rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world, covering over five and a half a million square kilometres (1.4 billion acres).
Over half of the Amazon rainforest is located in Brazil but it is also located in other South American countries including Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Guyana, Bolivia, Suriname and French Guiana.
10% of the world’s known species live in the Amazon rainforest.
20% of the world’s bird species live in the Amazon rainforest.
The Amazon is estimated to have 16,000 tree species and 390 billion individual trees.
Many plants around the world have medicinal qualities. Of the plants known to have anti-cancer properties, 70% are found in the rainforest. Amazon natives use rainforest plants regularly but 90% of the ones they use have not been studied by modern science.
In 1500 there were between 6 and 9 million Amazon natives. Today there are only an estimated 250,000 left.
There are approximately 170 different languages spoken by the Amazon natives.
Around 400-500 indigenous Amerindian tribes call the Amazon rainforest home. It’s believed that about fifty of these tribes have never had contact with the outside world!
There are around 3000 fruits found in rainforests, and in the west we make use of around 200 of them. However, indigenous tribes make use of over 2000!
Due to the thickness of the canopy (the top branches and leaves of the trees), the Amazon floor is in permanent darkness. In fact, it’s so thick that when it rains, it takes around ten minutes for the water to reach the ground!
This area of immense natural beauty is sometimes referred to as ‘the lungs of the Earth’. This is because the rich vegetation takes carbon dioxide out of the air, and releases oxygen back in. In fact, more than 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon.
The rainforests have begun to be destroyed in the last 100 years to make way for farm land. Today, the rainforests are being destroyed by 1.5 acres every second.
Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has been declining since 2004, mostly due to the falling deforestation rate in Brazil. There are a variety of reasons for the decline, including macroeconomic trends, new protected areas and indigenous territories, improved law enforcement, deforestation monitoring via satellite, pressure from environmental groups, and private sector initiatives.
It’s estimated that if the climate change were to increase the world’s temperature by only 3 degrees Celsius then 75% of the Amazon would be destroyed.