The Amazon River

The Amazon River or River Amazon (Portuguese: Rio Amazonas; Spanish: Río Amazonas) of South America is the largest river in the world by volume, with greater total river flow than the next eight largest rivers combined, and the largest drainage basin in the world. Because of its vast dimensions it is sometimes called The River Sea. Most sources regard the Amazon as the second longest river; however, some sources disagree. The Amazon has been measured by different geographers as being anywhere between 6,259km/3,903mi and 6,712km/4,195mi long. The Nile River in Africa is reported to be anywhere from at 5,499km/3,437mi to 6,690km/4,180mi long.

The area covered by the water of the River and its tributaries more than triples over the course of a year. In an average dry season 110,000 square km of land are water-covered, while in the wet season the flooded area of the Amazon Basin rises to 350,000 square km.[citation needed] At its widest point the Amazon River can be 11 km/6.8 mi wide during the dry season, but during the rainy season when the Amazon floods the surrounding plains it can be up to 40 km/25 mi wide.

The quantity of fresh water released by the Amazon to the Atlantic Ocean is enormous: up to 300,000 m³ per second in the rainy season. The Amazon is responsible for a fifth of the total volume of fresh water entering the oceans worldwide. Offshore of the mouth of the Amazon, potable water can be drawn from the ocean while still out of sight of the coastline, and the salinity of the ocean is notably lower a hundred miles out to sea.

The Amazon estuary is over 325 km/202 mi wide. The main river (which is between approximately one and six miles wide) is navigable for large ocean steamers to Manaus, 1,500 km (more than 900 miles) upriver from the mouth. Smaller ocean vessels of 3,000 tons and 5.5 m (18 ft) draft can reach as far as Iquitos, Peru, 3,600 km (2,250 miles) from the sea. Smaller riverboats can reach 780 km (486 mi) higher as far as Achual Point. Beyond that, small boats frequently ascend to the Pongo de Manseriche, just above Achual Point.

The Amazon drains an area of some 6,915,000km² (2,722,000 mile²), or some 40 percent of South America. It gathers its waters from 5 degrees north latitude to 20 degrees south latitude. Its most remote sources are found on the inter-Andean plateau, just a short distance from the Pacific Ocean.

The Amazon has changed its course several times. In early Cenozoic times , before the uplifting of the Andes, it flowed westward.
[Source: Wikipedia]

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