A dense, green forest lines the riverbanks. Monkeys chatter in the trees. Off to the side, a big crocodile sticks its eyes and nose out of the water. This is what a boat trip on the Amazon River can be like. Be careful not to fall overboard! Fish called piranhas may be swimming near the boat. A group of piranhas can gobble up a large animal in minutes.
THE MIGHTY AMAZON
The Amazon is a long river in South America. The river starts in snow and tiny streams, high in the Andes Mountains in Peru.
It flows east through Brazil. After 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometers), the Amazon empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
Along its route, hundreds of streams and smaller rivers empty into the Amazon. As a result, the Amazon carries more water than any other river in the world. Although the Amazon is the largest river in the world, it is not the longest. Only the Nile River in Africa is longer than the Amazon.
The Amazon changes size through the year. It is biggest from January to June, when heavy rains fall in Brazil. During the rainy season, the river is more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) wide in some places.
The Amazon dumps several million tons of mud, sand, and other sediment in the Atlantic Ocean every day. Much of this sediment has washed down from the Andes Mountains. It turns the Amazon a muddy yellowish color. The sediment changes the color of the Atlantic for about 200 miles (about 320 kilometers) from the mouth of the Amazon.
WHAT ANIMALS LIVE IN THE AMAZON?
The Amazon is home to many interesting animals. The piranha is an Amazon fish with a bad reputation. One species (kind) of piranha has powerful jaws and sharp teeth that can tear flesh from bones. However, most piranhas eat plants. Stingrays and electric eels live in the Amazon, too. Stingrays have poisonous stingers on their tails. Snakelike electric eels use their electricity to stun prey.
Giant otters, river dolphins, and manatees are among the mammals found in the Amazon. Crocodiles called caimans and giant turtles also live in the river.
THE AMAZON RAIN FOREST
A vast tropical rain forest lies next to the Amazon River in Brazil and neighboring countries. More than seven times the size of Texas, it is the largest rain forest in the world.
The Amazon rain forest is home to colorful scarlet macaws, stealthy jaguars, noisy howler monkeys, bloodsucking vampire bats, three-toed sloths, long-nosed tapirs, and powerful anaconda snakes. Many useful plants grow in the Amazon rain forest. They provide food, building materials, rubber, medicines, and other products.
Source: Microsoft ® Encarta