Patagonia and other adventure travel destinations

What is the longest river in South America?

South America boasts no shortage of great rivers. The Madeira River stretches some 3,250 kilometres and the Parana dwarfs it at 4,880 kilometres. Most impressive of all is the longest river in South America is the Amazon River. Most people correctly associate the Amazon River with the Amazon rainforest, but how much more do you really know? Here are four quick facts about the Amazon!

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Four fast facts about the Amazon River

It discharges more water into the ocean than any other river. It’s arguably the longest river in the world, depending on who you talk to. It’s home to a wealth of wildlife. Truly, there’s a lot to know when it comes to the Amazon River. Without getting too technical, we’ve picked out four facts that will help you understand what the river is all about.

1. The Amazon is the longest river in South America (and maybe the world!)

It may seem obvious, but we shouldn’t overlook this one. Stretching somewhere between 6,400 and 6,992 kilometres, the Amazon is South America’s longest river. There is some debate, however, as to whether or not it is the longest river in the world, as exact measurements tend to vary between sources. Different sources consider different criteria when measuring rivers, hence the uncertainty about its exact length. The Guinness Book of World Records considers the River Nile to be longer than the Amazon, and therefore the longest in the world. Regardless, the Amazon tops the table in South America.

2. The Amazon runs through seven countries

As the longest river in South America, the Amazon naturally covers a considerable portion of the continent. Indeed, it spans seven South American countries in total: The river runs through Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Venezuela. The Brazilian city of Manaus is the largest along the river, home to a population of 1.7 million. Manaus is an important trading port between Brazil and the rest of the world.

3. It’s home to a huge number of fish species

The Amazon River is home to at least 3,000 known species of fish, and estimates are that the total is closer to 5,000 species. There are around fifty new species discovered each year, so that number may keep growing. Among the more noteworthy and unusual species are the piranha, the arapaima, the arowana and at least 1,200 individual types of catfish.

4. The Amazon River has plenty of mammals and reptiles, too

Naturally, the longest river in South America is a source of food and water for the great Amazon rainforest. It’s thought that around a third of all known species live in the rainforest, including jaguars, ocelots and sloths. It’s not all about the rainforest, though. The river itself has plenty of weird and wonderful creatures of its own. Spend a little time on the Amazon river and you might be fortunate enough to encounter the Amazon river dolphin, the Amazonian manatee and the giant otter. If you’re unfortunate, you may stumble upon an anaconda, among the largest snakes in the world and known to hunt in the river’s shallow waters.

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