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Amazon River facts for kids

Amazon is the greatest river in South America. It is the second longest river in the world (only the Nile is longer), but it carries a greater volume of water than any other river. The Amazon is 3,900 miles long and, with its tributary the River Tocantins, it drains an area of nearly 2.75 million square miles - almost half the South American continent. It provides about 30,000 miles of navigable waterways.

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Amazon River facts for kids

Location map of the Amazon River, showing the vast area of South America drained by the main river and its tributaries

The river scenery attracts many tourists to the Amazon holidays. At the picture you can see suspension bridge located over one of the tributaries of the Amazon

In fact, Amazon River rises in the Andes Mountains, in Peru. It is formed by the meeting of two other rivers, the Maranon and Ucayali, which rise a mere 100 miles from the Pacific Ocean. As it flows through the forests of northern Brazil, the Amazon is fed by more than 200 other rivers. It eventually empties into the Atlantic, on the Equator, on the northern side of the island of Marajo. Its mouth is 200 miles wide, and the water there is more than 200 feet deep. The volume of water is so great that fresh water is found on the surface 40 miles out to sea.

Ocean-going ships can sail up the river for 1,000 miles, as far as the town of Manaus, and smaller ships can proceed for a further 1,000 miles to Iquitos in Peru. But beyond there navigation becomes difficult because of rapids. The average speed of the Amazon is 1.5 miles an hour, but during the rainy season the river overflows its banks and floods thousands of square miles of land. Some historians believe that the Spanish explorer, Francisco de Orellana, discovered the Amazon River in 1541, but others think that another Spaniard, Vicente Pinzon, saw it when he reached Brazil in 1500.

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