The Amazon is in South America. The Amazon River, stretching 6,299 km from Peru to Brazil, is the second longest river in the world along with the Yangzi River in China. (The longest river in the world is the Nile River on the African Continent which stretches 7,242 km) But its basin is 6.5 million square kilometers in area, which is the widest in the world. The term “the Amazon” usually refers to the rain forest spread along the Amazon River. The size of the Amazon is half of all the rain forest areas in the world combined.
What is the Amazon like?
The Amazon is the world's largest tropical rain forest region. In this very hot and humid jungle, it rains throughout the year. The Amazon is also known as the habitat of the largest number of living things, reaching as many as sixty thousand species of plants, one thousand species of birds and three hundred species of mammals.
What is the role of the Amazon jungle?
The Amazon jungle is sometimes called Earth's "lung". This is because the Amazon covers an area making up fifty percent of the world's tropical rain forests, and the abundant tropical plants growing in the Amazon generate twenty percent or more of the amount of oxygen available on the earth. In order to generate oxygen, carbon dioxide is needed. The Amazon rain forest is actually contributing to the health of the earth by taking in carbon dioxide, which is a factor for global warming, while generating a great amount of oxygen. It plays a crucial role for all living creatures on earth. Unfortunately, an area of virgin forests as vast as Japan's Shikoku island (18,802 square kilometers / approximately 7520.8 square miles) is ruined every year due to reckless deforestation and land development. The preservation of nature in the Amazon tropical rain forest directly applies to the protection of the earth.
The Amazon today
The Amazon rainforests are shrinking every second, due in large part to humans burning and cutting down forests for mineral resources and timber harvesting, as well as agricultural expansion. They say that about sixty thousand km2 had been lost in the Amazon region by the year 2000, an area about 60% larger than Japan. At least 70% of the vanished rainforest was lost within the past 20 years. The damage is spreading because many countries have over-exploited nature for profit without planning for the future. However, conservation groups from all over the world are coming together to save and improve the Amazon rainforests.
Protecting the Amazon
Environmental protection groups at all levels throughout the globe are working to protect the amazing natural beauty of the Amazon rainforest. National, corporate, and citizen's groups are helping plant seedlings and promoting the use of recyclable paper, which can be used to make more paper without cutting down any more trees. Some companies even contribute part of their profits to helping grow the rainforests back. All of the earth's natural environment, and not just the Amazon, is a vital habitat not just for animals, but also for us humans. By giving up just a few of the small luxuries in your life or by contributing just a little bit of money, we can all work together to make the world a better place to live.