Amazon river basin


The Amazon is one of the largest rivers of the world. It is the chief river of the South America. It is the second longest river in the world after the Nile in Africa. Its flow is the world largest so far. Amazon has a total river flow greater than the next ten largest rivers combined. It is also one of the deepest rivers. Amazon River is the main artery of the whole Amazon rainforest system and washes most of the villages and towns in the region.

Geographical Location

Amazon River is located in South America. Beginning in the high Andes Mountains in Peru, it flows to Atlantic Ocean through Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Guiana, Suriname and Brazil. These river systems in these five countries are called the Upper Amazon. So far, the Amazon River proper flows mostly in Peru and Brazil. (Amazon River 2007)

According to some old research, the Amazon is 6.280 km long. It is the second longest river in the world (Andrew, M. 2000). However, there are some scientists claimed that the Amazon is actually longer than the Nile. The Amazon is 6.800 km long while the Nile is 6.695 km long (Duffy, G. 2007). So this problem is still debated.

The Amazon Basin is the largest drainage basin in the world. It covers about 40 percent of South America. In an average dry season, 110.000 square kilometres of land are water-covered. In the wet season, the flooded area of the Amazon Basin rises to 350,000 square kilometres. Volume of water released by the Amazon to the Atlantic Ocean is up to 300,000 cubic meters per second in the rainy season. The Amazon is responsible for about 20% of the total volume of freshwater entering the ocean. (Amazon River 2007)


The Amazon was discovered by Franisco de Orellana, who is an explorer, in 1541. After descending the river from Quito, Ecuador, to the Atlantic, Orellana claimed to have seen women tribal warriors, and he named the river Amazonas for the women warriors of Greek mythology. (Amazon River 2007)

Seasonal flooding is characteristic of many tropical rivers. The lowest flood stage occurs in August and September. The highest stage occurs in April and May. Tributaries of the Guyana Shield flood in June, the tributaries of the Brazilian Shield flood in March or April.

Impact of Human Use

The Amazon is a good place to explore and tour. More than one-third of all species in the world live in the Amazon Rainforest. Moreover, the Amazon River has over 3,000 recognized species of fish and that number is still growing. However, fishing might reduce the number of fishes in this river.

The Amazon River is a largest and deepest river in the world. Thus, it is very easy for boating and shipping. So trading between countries will be easier.

The Amazon River also used for drinking and bathing. Bathing increases the pollution of this river. Then people use water for drinking. So it may make some diseases for people.


There are three main environmental problems: anthropogenic pressures, owing to the uncontrolled expansion of human activities which contribute to the destruction of fragile ecosystems; deforestation and clearing of plant cover causing soil loss and erosion, reduced biodiversity, and sedimentation in the rivers; changes in the hydrologic cycle associated with changes in the global climate and exacerbated by the alteration of the Amazonian forests due to the fires and the droughts. Thus, the result is water pollution and quality degradation. (Amazon River Basin 2005)

People cause the most pollution in the Amazon. They account for most of the pollution via industrial means. Industrial expansion of the Amazon has caused destruction of the plants, animals, and environment. It also causes water pollution by leaking hazardous materials into the rivers, tributaries and underwater.

Impact of a Proposed or Completed Project

The water project series number 8 of Organization of American States was carried out in October 2005. Its name is Integrated and Sustainable Management of Transboundary Water Resources in the Amazon River Basin. The goal of this project is protection and management of the land and water resources of the Amazon River Basin in the face of ongoing climatic changes being experienced in the Basin. This goal can be stated as seven specific objectives: make progress toward the integrated management of land and water resources through more effective decision-making by the relevant national institutions, to determine the vulnerability of people and ecosystems to the consequent changes in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems; strengthen the shared strategic vision of the Basin as the basis for integrated land and water resource planning and management; strengthen the technical-institutional structure for the identification of land and water resources at risk of environmental impairment (critical areas or "hot spots") in order to protect and/or rehabilitate these areas; generate more knowledge about the types and sources of water pollution in the Basin, the means to monitor them, and the mechanisms to attack their root causes; assess the vulnerability of ecosystems and local communities to climatic variations, particularly those resulting in droughts and floods; make progress toward the harmonization of the legal framework for the sustainable development and management of the Basin, the development of economic instruments, the strengthening of technical and institutional capacities, and the promotion of public participation; and strengthen the TCA Secretariat as an effective coordination agency for countries in the Basin in the short-, medium-, and long-terms. (Amazon River Basin 2005)


The Amazon River is a wonder of the world. It is not only a largest river; it is also the deepest river of the world. Furthermore, it is one of the longest rivers. There are over 3.000 species of fish in this river. Furthermore, it has a lot of effects on human activities such as boating, shipping, fishing, tourism, drinking and bathing. Also, there are a lot of reasons why the Amazon River is polluted such as rubbish, mercury and industrialization. So limiting pollutants, reducing deforestation, reducing rubbish and raising people knowledge are very necessary to protect the Amazon River from pollution.

Reference List:

  • Fact File about the Amazon, MBarron Production [online] Available at: [Accessed on March 16, 2010].
  • Amazon River, [online] Available at: [Accessed on March 16, 2010].
  • (2005) Amazon River Basin, Organization of American State Office for Sustainable Development and Environment, the United States.
  • Elliott, N. (2000) The Amazon River, East Buchanan Community Schools [online] Available at: [Accessed on March 21, 2010].
  • Andrew, M. (2000) The Amazon River, East Buchanan Community Schools [online] Available at: [Accessed on March 21, 2010].
  • Duffy, G. (2007) Amazon River longer than Nile, BBC News [online] Available at: [Accessed on March 21, 2010].
  • (2007) Amazon River, Martin Strel marathon swimmer [online] Available at: [Accessed on March 21, 2010].
  • Hachiya, N. Takizawa, Y. Hisamatsu, S. Abe, T. Abe, Y. and Motohashi, Y. (1998) Atmospheric mercury concentrations in the basin of the Amazon, Brazil, Japanese Society of Hygiene [online] Available at: [Accessed on March 21, 2010].
  • Immedion (2010) Project Amazonas [online] Available at: [Accessed on March 21, 2010].

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