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Amazon River: 18 Facts You May Not Know

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What makes your adventure more interesting are the details you know about the place you’re visiting; all pieces are impossible to grasp and not even needed unless you’re a tour guide or history teacher. In this article, I am sharing with you some fascinating/funny facts about the Amazon river that will enrich your experience.

Related: Swimming In the Amazon River (The Guide)

18 Facts About About Amazon River

1. If any water body carries more fresh water than any river in this world, it is the amazon river. It accounts for 20% of the freshwater that flows into the ocean.

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2. The Amazon river is estimated to have more than 1,100 tributaries, 17 of which are over 1,500 kilometres long. This is a significant length, as it makes these tributaries almost as long as some of the smaller rivers in the world.

3. The presence of such a large number of tributaries and their length contribute to the vastness of the Amazon River basin. The Amazon River basin spans over 7 million square kilometres and covers territories of nine South American countries, including Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador.

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4. In 2007, a team of Brazilian scientists claimed that Amazon might be the longest river, not the Nile. As per their result, which is not published, the amazon river is 4,225 miles long while the Nile is 4,160 miles (source). However, as it is not yet clarified, the current fact is that the Amazon river is 4,000 miles long. This debate has been ongoing for years, and it would be interesting to see where it ends.

5. The Amazon River begins in the Andes Mountains in Peru and flows through several South American countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and others, before eventually reaching the Atlantic Ocean.

6. The Amazon River basin, which covers an area of over 7 million square kilometres, is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. The region is home to an estimated 10% of the world’s species, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth.

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7. Animal species that are only found in the Amazon river basin are the Pink Amazon River Dolphin, Arapaima (predatory fish), Black Caiman (alligator), and Giant Otter (aquatic mammal). These species and many others are unique to the Amazon River basin and play essential roles in the region’s ecosystem.

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8. The Amazon River is responsible for the colour change in the Atlantic Ocean for about 200 miles from its mouth. The colour of the ocean in this region is influenced by the high levels of freshwater and sediment discharged into the sea by the Amazon River.

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9. Amazon river width averages 2 to 6 miles, and the maximum free width of the river’s permanent bed is about 8.5 miles. However, some reports suggest that Amazon rivers widen up to 35 miles during the flood season (source). So if you’re ever near the Amazon River during flood season, be prepared for a wild and wet ride, and bring your floaties because this river means business!

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10. Guys, do you know that at one time, approx 65 to 145 million years ago, the Amazon river was flowing in the opposite direction? This means instead of going to the Atlantic Ocean, the river’s final destination was the Pacific Ocean. How? The formation of Andes Mountain in the west forced the river to flow in the direction that we know today, but this change did not occur until millions of years after the Late Cretaceous period (source).

11. Amazon river is responsible for the rise of sea level in the Caribbean sea. When the tidal wave from the Atlantic Ocean reaches the mouth of the Amazon River, it is pushed upstream by the freshwater layer and creates a tidal bore that rises several meters. This rise in water level makes the freshwater from the Amazon towards the Caribbean Sea, resulting in an increase in sea level in the Caribbean Sea by several centimetres to a meter or more.

12. Amazon river dolphin is a fact on its own because this is one of those unique species of dolphin that can survive in freshwater. These dolphins are estimated to have evolved about 18 million years ago.

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13. There are no bridges; if you want to cross the Amazon river, the only feasible way is to use boats. However, the river itself is a medium of transportation for many people. There are no bridges because, during flood season, the width of the river can triple in some places and rise over 30 feet. So it requires a substantial and long bridge to make it worthwhile.

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14. It is estimated that around 40% of all the rainfall in South America drains into the Amazon River, making it one of the most significant contributors to the river’s water level.

15. The Amazon River has the most extensive floodplain in the world, covering an area of approximately 160,000 square kilometres (62,000 square miles).

16. The Amazon River basin is also home to the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon Rainforest, which covers an area of approximately 6.7 million square kilometres (2.7 million square miles).

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17. Joe Kane (USA) and Piotr Chmielinski (Poland) were the first explorers to paddle the Amazon river on 19 February 1985.

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18. Martin Strel swam the longest journey of 5,268 km; he swam the entire Amazon river in Peru/Brazil from 1 February to 8 April 2007 (source).

Related: Swimming In the Amazon River (The Guide)

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