The Amazon River which is the longest river in the world with a length of 6992 Km (approx 4300 miles) is also the widest with an average width of 11 Km (6.8 mi) in the dry season and up to 190 km (120 mi) during the rains. The Amazon River is a huge river flowing mainly through Peru and Brazil and also draining the borders of Ecuador, Columbia, and Bolivia. Amazon sustains a tremendous amount of species as well as commercial transport activities and huge undisturbed forests.

The river has an average discharge of 209000 cubic meters/second which is the largest in the world and also it has a total basin area of 7050000 sq km. Having originated in the Andes Mountains, Peru in the western part of South America it flows east to the Atlantic Ocean. Though the Amazon River is closely followed by the Nile in terms of length, the maximum width attained by the Nile is only 7.5 Km, undisputedly making Amazon the widest river on the planet.

Quick Facts about the Amazon River

  • Amazon is the world’s longest river at 6992 km.
  • It is also the widest-ranging from 11 km to 190 km in width.
  • It is a South American river originating in Peru.
  • Mantaro River in Peru is known to be the principal tributary of the Amazon.
  • The river flows in an easterly direction since its origin.
  • Amazon is named after the female warriors of Amazon forests.
  • Roi Nigro and Solimoes are two important tributaries contributing hugely to the flow of Amazon.
  • Rio Nigro and Solimoes meet in Brazil.
  • The waters at the confluence of Rio Nigro and Solimoes are distinctly separated due to their colors.
  • The river mainly passes through Brazil and Peru.
  • The river basin is about 2.5 million square miles.
  • It also touches the border with Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador.
  • It has over 1100 tributaries.
  • Branco, Huallaga, Javari, Juruna, etc are some of the main tributaries of Amazon.
  • Total average discharge of 209000 cubic meters/second.
  • The scarce population along the banks leaves miles of forest undisturbed.
  • There are no bridges across the Amazon.
  • Amazon rain forests are the most biodiverse in the world.
  • Amazon rain forests sustain 10% of the world’s species.
  • Amazon rain forests are called the lungs of the world because they produce 20% of the World’s oxygen.
  • The main stem of the Amazon while reaching Atlantic has a width of nearly 80 km.
  • Amazon empties into the Atlantic Ocean through a huge network of wide estuaries earning it the name-‘The River Sea’.

Headwaters of Amazon/Origin/History

Since the past century, it was believed that Amazon has its headwaters in southwest Peru. The Apurimac River, originating from the glacial ridge of Mismi at an elevation of about 5597 meters (18363 ft) was believed to be the main tributary of Amazon till 2014 when a study found it to be in the Cordillera Rumi Cruz at the headwaters of Mantaro River in Peru. Both Apurimac and Rumi rivers meet with other tributaries to form the main stem of the Amazon. The upper parts of the Amazon are called Solimoes River by the Brazilians before its confluence with one of the main tributaries, Rio Nigro which is also one of the world’s 10 largest rivers in terms of discharge.


The flow of the Amazon

The flow of the Amazon can be divided into the upper Amazon, lower Amazon and its mouth where it meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Before its confluence with Rio Nigro, the river is known as ‘Solimoes Das Aguas’ in Brazil. The river system and flood plains in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela and Columbia whose water drain into The Solimoes constitute the upper Amazon. The upper Amazon is supported by an extensive network of tributaries in Columbia, Ecuador and Peru ex- Putumayo, Morona, Pastaza, etc and also branches out into a number of small distributaries only to meet the main river downstream. Parts of the landscape surrounding the upper Amazon are mostly submerged underwater.

The lower Amazon begins at the confluence of Rio Nigro and Solimoes. The confluence is a huge tourist attraction as the waters of the two rivers can be distinctly identified for nearly 6 km. Rio Nigro has darkly colored water while the water of Solimoes is sandy colored making their confluence a most sought after tourist attraction in Brazil. The Northern bank of the river is marked with a number of steep hills with flat tops, while the southern bank of the river has a series of steep banks.

The mouth of the Amazon is located in eastern Brazil near the city of Belem, which is also an important port. The exact location of the mouth of Amazon cannot be ascertained because of the complex geography of the area. It has numerous small and big islands that are flooded twice daily due to tidal activities. The area abounds in clay and sedimentary deposits and numerous islands resulting due to sedimentation. The area also supports rich forests and huge ecology.

Myths Related with Amazon

There are so many mythological facts and beliefs in the surrounding forests of Amazon that it will not be possible to mention each one of them. We will just go through a few of superstitious beliefs that the locals living along the banks of the Amazon believe in.


  1. El Dorado

Brazilians believe that deep inside the Amazon forests, there is a hidden kingdom named El Dorado which still remains to be explored. This belief has formed the basis of many scientific and adventure explorations.

  1. Chuyachaki

This is another superstitious belief of the natives of Amazon. They believed that the spirit of a farmer is constantly on the lookout for those who are lost in the forest. He personifies himself as someone who they trust and guides them deep into the jungle until they are completely lost. The ‘Chuyachaki’ then wait for them to die.

  1. Ayay Mama

The story surrounds two kids of a widowed father- an elderly girl and a young boy. Their father was forced to abandon the kids by their stepmother so that her heir would be confirmed. The father led them into the deep jungles where they were lost, but the forest goddess took pity on them and adopted them in form of birds, whose shrieks still today can be heard in the deep forests surrounding the Amazon.

  1. Mandioca

Ancients believed that the daughter of a respected king mysteriously got pregnant and was therefore condemned and forced to leave the kingdom. Consequently, she gave birth to a girl child having the color of the moon. When the locals saw the magical color of the child, they brought back both the mother and child to the kingdom and celebrated their return. Unfortunately, the child only lived until her first birthday. Where the child, named Mani was buried a strange plant sprouted on the grave. The locals cut the stem and witnessed that the soft inner part has the same white color as Mani and was delicious to eat. To honor the child they named the plant Mandioca.

  1. Lapupana trees

Lapupana is long trees believed to cast a spell on someone who disrespects them. There are incidents when people are believed to fell ill after urinating near the tree.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

You can get the correct answer to these questions related to the topic here:

What is the total length of the Amazon River?

The total length of the Amazon River is 6992-kilo meters.

Isn’t the Nile River longer than the Amazon?

The two Rivers are very close in terms of total length. Recent studies estimate the total length of Nile to be 6853 kilometers, around 139 kilometers short of Amazon.

What is the average width of Amazon?

The average width of Amazon ranges from 11 km during dry months to 190 km during the rains.

Where Amazon does originate?

Amazon originates in Cordillera Rumi Cruz at the headwaters of the Mantaro River in Peru.

What countries does the Amazon flow through?

Amazon mainly passes through Brazil and Peru, while touching the borders of Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador.

Why the Amazon is named so?

The Amazon is named after the women warriors who were encountered by the travelers along the banks of the river.

What is meant by the sentence- ‘meeting of waters’?

The water of Rio Nigro and Solimoes meet in Manaus, Brazil and are distinctly visible for nearly 6 kilometers due to their different colors. This phenomenon is called – a meeting of waters.

How many tributaries does Amazon have?

Amazon has an extensive network of tributaries- nearly 1100.

Name some major tributaries of the Amazon?

Some of the major tributaries of the Amazon are- Branco, Huallaga, Javari, Juruna, etc.

What is the average discharge of the Amazon?

The river has a total average discharge of 209000 cubic meters/second.

Does the river support any agricultural activity?

The soil along the banks of Amazon is nutrient deficient making it less useful for farming.

What are the main forests on the banks of Amazon?

Some main forests on the bank of Amazon are- Jau National Park- Brazil, Tumuqumaque National Park- Brazil, Manu, and Pacaya National Parks-Peru.

Name some endangered species living in Amazon River and forests?

Amazon river dolphin, sea cow, giant otter, anacondas, silver Arowana, piranha besides land animals like jaguar, lion-tailed macaque and many other species of reptiles, insects, and birds.

What directions does the river take from its origin to end?

The Amazon flows in an easterly direction from its origin.

Does the Amazon River pass through the equator?

No, Amazon does not pass through the equator as is believed by many. Though some of its tributaries like – Zaire and Parana do pass through the equator.

Are there any bridges constructed on the Amazon?

No there are no bridges across the Amazon because of its huge width and low population along the banks.

What are the few exported products of the Amazon River basin?

Some important commodities of the Amazon River basin are- India rubber, Coffee beans, Brazil nuts, and Timber.

Where Amazon does meet the Atlantic Ocean?

Amazon meets the Atlantic Ocean in Eastern Brazil, near the city of Belem.

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