Experience the Amazon

The Amazon Rainforest, which is also known as the Amazon Jungle, is located in South America and covers the Amazon River basin. The Amazon River is considered to be the largest river as far as discharge is concerned. Most of the forest is in Brazil (60%), Peru (13%) and some other countries like Venezuela, Colombia, French Guiana, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, and Suriname. Amazon Rainforest is the largest and biggest rainforest in the world and makes about half of the planet’s rainforest space. According to historians, the Amazon Jungle was created millions of years ago when the Amazon River changed its flowing direction from the West to East direction.

Amazon Rainforest or Amazonia is also considered a mysterious and powerful place containing a huge variety of animal species which comprise of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Many medical and pharmaceutical agencies are running projects in the jungle for gaining plant knowledge and doing drug research.

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MANAUS:  2,836km (1,762 miles) NW of Rio de Janeiro, 2,682km (1,666 miles) NW of São Paulo.

On the surface, Manaus looks a lot like other Brazilian cities. The old downtown is shabby and bustling. Along the shoreline in the upscale Ponta Negra area you'll find the familiar beachside high-rises, wide streets, and waterfront kiosks. But stop for a moment and contemplate: You're in the middle of nowhere with 1,610km (1,000 miles) of forest in every direction.

Inhabitants of the largest city in the Amazon, Manaus’ 1.6 million people live on the shores of the Rio Negro, just upstream from where it joins the Rio Solimões to become the Amazon. Though first settled in the 1600s, there's a frontier feel to the place.

Near the end of the 19th century, when the Amazon was the world's only rubber supplier, there was a 30-year boom in rubber and Manaus got rich indeed. Some of the city's finest buildings date back to this time, among them the Customs house and the famous Teatro Amazonas (Opera House). The boom ended around 1910, some years after an enterprising Brit stole some Amazon rubber seeds and planted them in new plantations in Malaya (modern-day Malaysia).

The city's next boom came in 1966, when Manaus was declared a free-trade zone. Electronics assembly plants sprouted across the city, and workers poured in to staff the factories. In the space of just a few years the city's population doubled to half a million. The retail traffic dried up in the early '90s when the government reduced import tariffs, but with the free-trade zone still in place, manufacturing carries on.

These days, the city's biggest employer is the Brazilian army, which has jungle-training schools, listening stations, and a substantial standing force stationed in the city -- all to preserve Brazilian sovereignty over the Amazon. Tourism has also expanded, most of it focused on the rainforest. Manaus is the main departure point for trips into the Amazon.

AMAZON BASIN FACTS

The Amazon River, according to many accounts, was named by Spanish explorer Fransisco de Orellana in 1541. The name was in honor of the female warriors he encountered on his voyage through the territory previously called Maranon.

  • The Amazon rain forest occupies 40 percent of Brazil's total geographical area. It is the drainage basin for the Amazon River and its many tributaries and covers 2,722,000 square miles.
  • Geologically, the Amazon River and basin are contained by two large stable masses of Pre-Cambrian rock, the Guiana Shield or Highlands to the north, the Central Brazilian Shield or Plateau to the south; the Andes Mountains to the west; and it flows eastward to empty into the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The Amazon River basin is about 4,195 miles long, covering about 2,720,000 square miles in area, including its 15,000 tributaries and sub tributaries (four of which are in excess of 1,000 miles long). It is the largest river basin in the world.
  • The source of the Amazon is the lake, Lauricocha, in the Peruvian Andes. The river is still known as the Maranon in its upper course, in the Andes. The length of the Amazon is measured from the source of the Ucayali river, which joins with the Maranon to eventually form the Amazon.
  • Much of northern Brazil is drained by the Rio Negro, which joins the Amazon to give it full strength before flowing into the Atlantic. The flow of the river has an average velocity of 1.5 miles per hour, which increases greatly at flood times.
  • The powerful discharge at the mouth of the Amazon measures about eight trillion gallons a day, 60 times that of the Nile and eleven times that of the Mississippi. The annual average discharge is 6,350,000 cubic feet per second ("cusecs") into the Atlantic, rising to over 7,000,000 cusecs during a flood. The mouth of the Amazon is more than 250 miles wide.
  • Most of the Brazilian part of the river exceeds 150 feet in depth, although some parts near the mouth have recorded depths of as much as 300 feet.
  • The width of the river ranges from one mile to 35 miles.
  • The city at the heart of the basin, Manaus, has an altitude of only 144 feet. The average level of the basin is 300 feet above sea level.
  • In the Amazon Basin, flooding often occurs between June and October.
  • The climate is warm and humid, with an average temperature of 79 degrees and an average yearly rainfall of 80 inches. Temperature differences between day and night are greater than those between seasons.
  • The Amazon Rainforest is thought to be the oldest tropical forest area in the world, perhaps as much as 100 million years old.
  • The forest areas are described by amount of flooding that occurs: not flooded, occasionally flooded, or regularly flooded.
  • The floral provinces of Amazonia are marked by geographic variations in sunlight, rainfall, temperature, and soils.
  • The trees, of which 117 species have been counted in an area of one half of a square mile, are of enormous variety. The uppermost layer of the rainforest is called the canopy. It receives most of the light energy from the sun and is a zone of extreme profusion of life.

TEN ANIMALS OF THE AMAZON BASIN:

Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world; followed by the beaver, porcupine and mara. Its closest relatives are agouti, chinchillas, coypu, and guinea pigs. Native to South America, the capybara inhabits savannas and dense forests and lives near bodies of water. It is a highly social species and can be found in groups as large as 100 individuals, but usually lives in groups of 10–20 individuals. The capybara is not a threatened species, though it is hunted for its meat and hide and also for a grease from its thick fatty skin which is used in the pharmaceutical trade.  Populations of capybaras are found in Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, Uruguay, and Argentina.  They live in a variety of habitats but prefer habitats that are close to water such as flooded grasslands, lowland forests, rainforests, and marshes.
Jaguars are spotted cats most closely resembles the leopard physically, although it is usually larger and of sturdier build and its behavioral and habitat characteristics are closer to those of the tiger. While dense rainforest is its preferred habitat, the jaguar will range across a variety of forested and open terrains. It is strongly associated with the presence of water and is notable, along with the tiger, as a feline that enjoys swimming. The jaguar is largely a solitary, opportunistic, stalk-and-ambush predator at the top of the food chain (an apex predator). It is a keystone species, playing an important role in stabilizing ecosystems and regulating the populations of the animals it hunts. The jaguar has an exceptionally powerful bite, even relative to the other big cats. This allows it to pierce the shells of armored reptiles and to employ an unusual killing method: it bites directly through the skull of prey between the ears to deliver a fatal bite to the brain.
The Ocelot, also known as the dwarf leopard, is a wild cat distributed extensively over South America including the islands of Trinidad and Margarita, Central America, and Mexico.
The Ocelot is similar in appearance to a domestic  cat. Its fur resembles that of a clouded leopard or jaguar and was once regarded as particularly valuable. As a result, hundreds of thousands of ocelots were once killed for their fur. The feline was classified a "vulnerable" endangered species from 1972 until 1996, and is now rated "least concern" by the 2008 IUCN Red List.
The Giant Anteater, also known as the Ant Bear, is a large insectivorous mammal native to Central and South America. It is one of four living species of Anteater and is classified with sloths in the order Pilosa. This species is mostly terrestrial, in contrast to other living anteaters and sloths which are arboreal or semi-arboreal. Its evolution may have been influenced by the expansion of savannas in South America. The giant anteater is the largest of its family, 182–217 cm (5.97–7.12 ft) in length, with weights of 33–41 kg (73–90 lb) for males and 27–39 kg (60–86 lb) for females. It is recognizable by its elongated snout, bushy tail, long fore-claws and distinctively colored pelage. Even the Jaguar has to be careful when hunting this pray, for its claws are deadly to the Jaguar for if attacked and it can wrap its claws and give the Jaguar a bear hug it will kill the Jaguar by embedding its claws into the Jaguar.
The Goldon Lion Tamarin gets its name from its bright reddish orange pelage and the extra-long hairs around the face and ears which give it a distinctive mane.  Its face is dark and hairless. It is believed that the tamarin gets its hair color from sunlight and carotenoids in its food.  The golden lion tamarin is the largest of the callitrichines. It is typically around 261 mm (10.3 in) and weighs around 620 g (1.4 lb). There is almost no size difference between males and females. As with all New World monkeys, the golden lion tamarin has tegulae, which are claw-like nails, instead of ungulae or flat nails found in all other primates, including humans.  Tegulae enable tamarins to cling to the sides of tree trunks. It may also move quadrupedally along the small branches, whether through walking, running, leaping or bounding.  This gives it locomotion more similar to squirrels than primates.

The Red Howler Monkey is a South American primate. There are actually a few different yet closely-related species and sub-species that are referred to as red howler monkeys. They are characterized by bald faces with protruding muzzles and thick coats of hair ranging in color from deep brick to a light golden red. Of course, their most defining characteristic is their unmistakable howl, which can be heard as far as three miles away. Howler monkeys have a wide range that includes, but is not limited to, the Amazonian rain forest.  Red howler monkeys aren't limited to the rain forest. Although the tropical Amazonian jungle makes up a large part of their habitat, their range also includes dry forests, high terra firma forests, cloud forests, marshes, swamp woodlands, deciduous seasonal forests and other types of seasonal forests. They also inhabit cacao plantations and river terraces.

Green Poison Dart Frogs are tiny, are show-offs, and displays a range of brilliant colors on its skin. These frogs are a classic example of aposematism which is basically a defense mechanism where an organism uses various tactics to ward off potential predators. These tactics could vary from exhibiting bright colors and ultrasonic sounds to noxious odor. In simple words, the bright colors are a way of saying, 'please don't eat me! These frogs are extremely small, given that their size is less than 2 1/2 inches. In fact, the smallest can be the size of your thumbnail, and weigh as little as 2 grams.  Their colors vary from the classic-golden to bright hues like red, yellow, green, blue, and black. The patterns also help them camouflage themselves among the forest foliage.  They are meat eaters and have long, sticky tongues that zap out to catch their prey, which consists of fruit insects, termites ants, and small spiders.  The bright colors of their skin attract insects towards them, and once the insect gets in contact with the deadly toxins from the skin glands, they experience instant death.   Now, that's definitely fatal attraction!

The Toco Toucan is among all Amazon rainforest animals, one of the most well-known and noisiest ever! Its call can be heard up to half a mile away.  They are found from Central America to Eastern Argentina, but it is in the Amazon rainforest where they reach the highest species diversity. A rainforest icon, it's easily recognizable by its long, colorful beak that can reach up to7-8 inches 19 cm) long, but very light as the inside is very hollow (composed by keratin), and a color range that goes from yellow-orange to reddish-orange It has striking plumage, black body and white neck and chest with some blue around the eyes. Its tongue is flat and nearly as long as the beak.  They are real chatterboxes and thrilling to watch in their own habitat.
Two-Toed Sloths are unique animals that spend nearly all their time upside down hanging in a tree; they even eat, sleep and give birth upside down! They spend so much time upside down that their internal organs have actually been repositioned over time. They are known for their speed or lack there off, because they only move between 6 to 8 feet a minute. They may look clumsy, but are surprisingly good swimmers. The ability to swim is very helpful for crossing streams or even rivers that are common in their wet habitat. On land they are not as agile. In fact, their limbs are not strong enough to support them and they have to drag themselves on their bellies to get around. Sloths live most of their lives in solitary, only meeting up to mate. Females have been known to congregate in small groups, but males are almost always found alone. Sloths are usually not territorial.

The Harpy Eagle has been called "the world's most powerful bird of prey”.  The adult bird stands just over three feet (100 cm) high, with a wingspan 6 feet (180 cm) or more. They're among the heaviest flying raptors; females may weigh up to 20 pounds (9 kg).  Males are rather smaller, 10 pounds (4.5 kg) on average.  It has a strong, hooked bill colored black, and relatively large, piercing eyes. The broad wings and long tail serve it well in flight, as it cruises above the canopy looking for prey. Its powerful yellow feet enable it to lock onto the hapless victim, which stands no chance once aloft in the bird's grasp. The powerful talons are almost the length of a man's hand, up to 5 inches (13 cm) long, or about twice the length of a bald eagle talon.  It is the largest and most powerful eagle found in the Americas, usually inhabiting tropical lowland rainforests in the emergent layer. This bird can carry prey up to half its own body weight.

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