TheÂ AmazonÂ rainforest, including theÂ AmazonÂ RiverÂ and jungle, cover 1.2 billion acres which is much of north-centralÂ SouthÂ AmericaÂ in parts ofÂ Brazil,Â Peru,Â Ecuador,Â Colombia,Â Venezuela,Â Bolivia, and theÂ Guyanas.
Rate of destruction of the AmazonÂ – Facts are sometimes hard to come by, as it significant portions disappear on a daily basis. Each decade portions of the Amazon as large as Texas are cut down to make room for cattle farms and for logging and the rate increases every year. In the past three decades more than twenty percent of the forest has disappeared. Brazil has one of the worst track records although other countries are not far behind. At current rates, some believe it could be completely gone in the next 50 years.
Amount of Water and Air in the AmazonÂ – The rivers and streams in the Amazon account for almost twenty percent of the worlds freshwater. It is often called the earthâ€™s lung as well, as it produces roughly twenty percent of the worldâ€™s oxygen and removes a large part of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The destruction has directly been linked to global warming and it is believed that the forest helps keep the earth 1 to 2 degrees cooler by balancing the rain and humidity in many parts of the world.
Traditional Amazonian CulturesÂ – There are many small, isolated tribes still remaining in the very corners of the rainforest. Many of them have remained uncontacted and have preserved their language, dress, and customs. Oil exploration, logging, and other endeavors threaten these tribes as contact from the outside could wipe them out form disease.
Rare WildlifeÂ – The Amazon is the most species rich tract of forest on the planet with thousands of species of birds, mammals, fish, and insects. More than 30% of all the worlds species can be found here. Many of the species are endangered such as theÂ Giant River OtterÂ (LobosÂ del Rio) and theÂ Paiche, the worlds largest freshwater fish and often as large as cars. Other rare and stunning creatures includeÂ pinkÂ riverÂ dolphins,caimans,Â manatees,Â giantÂ anteaters,Â jaguars,Â pumas, many species ofÂ monkeys, andÂ sloths, not to forget so many frogs, snakes, fish,Â capybara, butterflies, and insects that you could dream up.
Creatures made famous by Hollywoodâ€¨-PiranhasÂ are quite common in the rivers and do in fact love blood, however, a human actually being attacked by them is very rare.â€¨-AnacondasÂ can be found often in shallow streams and can be as large as 4meters (13 feet). They arenâ€™t as vicious as Hollywood makes them out to be. They survive mostly on rodents such as the capybara and fish.â€¨-One of the lesser known creatures but always talked about is theÂ CandirÃºÂ orÂ Brazilian Vampire fish, which has the amazing ability to swim up the urethra of a human being. Ouch!
Getting AroundÂ – Low cost air carriers are becoming more common and flights now go from South Americaâ€™s main cities to places such asÂ Iquitos, Peru; Leticia, Colombia,Â andÂ Manaus and BelÃ©m, Brazil. River boats which slowly ply the waters have had to take on cargo as well as passengers to make ends meat. Jungle lodges can be found near many reserves and national parks in each country.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.