Amazon: World's Mightiest River

Facts about the Amazon River. The Amazon River has more than 1100 tributaries. The mouth of the Amazon is 200 miles wide.

The River Amazon is the world’s mightiest river--although it is not the longes--and it starts life as a thin, silvery mountain stream more than seventeen thousand feet, (five thousand two hundred meters), high up among the snowbound mountain peaks of the Peruvian Andes. From the highest part of South America, just a hundred and twenty miles, or a hundred and ninety kilometers, from the Pacific, the River Amazon flows east.

As it goes on, dropping further and further towards sea level, it is swollen by many torrents and streams and becomes wider and more powerful. Then it drops down off the Andes, through gorges and ravines and gets deeper and deeper as it goes. As it carries more water, the river itself widens some more; the flow becomes slower and spreads out until it finally spills out into the Atlantic, four thousand miles from its source.

The length of the River Amazon has never actually been calculated exactly but in the world league table of rivers, it takes second place only to the River Nile for its length, which is about four thousand one hundred and sixty miles (six thousand four hundred and forty meters). In all other respects according to its statistics for volume, widtj and force of water, the Amazon certainly comes out at the top of the list.

The outflow of the River Amazon, where it flows out into the sea is so powerful that it pushes a wide fan of yellowish brown silt and sand out into the Atlantic for a hundred miles. This can be seen very clearly from the air. The River Amazon also has more tributaries and streams running into it than any other river in the world. The estimate for this is eleven hundred but new ones start all the time, as water runs off the high ground. Several of these tributary rivers, such as the Negro, which has its source along the water table between the Orinoco and Amazon basins; the Tapajos; the Madeira and the Trombetas, are all more than a thousand miles long in their own right.

The Amazon drains a basin of approximately two and a half million square miles, pulling water from the north and south hemispheres and six different countries: Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia. The mouth of the river is two hundred miles wide and from it flows one fifth of all the river water in the world.

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Lauren Axelrod
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Posted on Nov 28, 2009