The Amazon River

The Amazon River flows into which body of water?

And the answer: Atlantic Ocean.

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As one of the longest rivers in the world, the Amazon begins high in the Andes Mountains and stretches for more than 4,000 miles through the Brazilian rainforest until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean. Its streams and tributaries contain the largest number of freshwater fish species in the world.

The Amazon River is the largest freshwater river in the world. Containing 20% of the world's freshwater, the Amazon spreads across the entire northern portion of South America. In fact, the Amazon's drainage basin – a.k.a. the area in which precipitation is collecting into the Amazon's tributaries – covers an area roughly equal to the size of the continental United States. Where the river meets the Atlantic, roughly 209 million liters are expelled every second. Interestingly, there are no dams along the river, despite the potential for hydroelectric power. This is due to the fact that a dam would have a severe ecological impact.

The Amazon and its tributaries have occupied historic and cultural sites of significance for millennia. Before the Spanish discovered South America, indigenous populations settled regions around the river and depended on its lush wildlife for survival. In fact, tribal societies have been calling the region home since around 5000 BCE. Scientists believe that these societies used the power of the river to conduct selective breeding of crops, plant fertilization and trade.

Today, the banks of the Amazon give a home to roughly 30 million people, from over 350 different ethnic groups. 10% of this population is indigenous to the land, though that number faces challenges from encroachment and modernization.

Learn more about the wonders of this magnificent river below.

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