Amazonia

The largest reservoir of biodiversity in the world… inexhaustible?

Amazonia is the largest reservoir of biodiversity in the world. It covers 7.3 million square kilometres (180 times the size of Switzerland!) and covers nine countries in South America. Nearly 16’000 tree species and 40’000 plants have been identified.

However, due to human activity, nearly 20% of the original Amazon forest has already been deforested, mainly for livestock breeding and feeding. This deforestation has an impact on the climate, since the forest acts as the planet’s lungs.

The Amazon river

It is the longest river in the world (6992 km) and also the one with the largest flow at its mouth: 209’000 m3/second.

It rises at an altitude of 5500 metres in the Peruvian Andes and flows into the Atlantic Ocean. At this point, the width of its mouth reaches 300 km. Almost 20% of the fresh water discharged into oceans comes from the Amazon.

Area

  • Amazon Basin: 7.3 million square kilometres.
  • Amazonian forest: 5.5 million square kilometres.
  • Covering 9 countries: Brazil (63%), Peru (13%), Colombia (10%), Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana.

Biodiversity

  • 390 billion trees.
  • 16’000 tree species (about 100 in Switzerland).
  • 40’000 plant species.
  • 2.5 million insect species.
  • 2200 species of fish.
  • 1300 species of birds.
  • 430 species of mammals.
  • 430 amphibian species.
  • 378 species of reptiles.

Deforestation

  • Between 25’000 and 45’000 square kilometres of forest are destroyed each year.
  • More than 20% of the original Amazon forest has been deforested, mainly for cattle breeding and feeding.
  • According to several estimates between 40 and 55% of the forest will have disappeared by 2050, if no action has been taken.

Amazonia, forest of women warriors ?

The Amazon forest first took its name from the river, itself named by the Spanish conquistador Francisco de Orellana in 1542. During a river expedition, the conquistador and his 57 men were attacked by female warriors who fired arrows from the shores, just like the Greek mythology’s Amazons.