The Amazon is synonymous with South America. It’s the largest of the rainforests, supporting a huge number of plants and animals and hugely important to our own survival. Taking up most of the Amazon Basin, the Amazon rainforest is mostly contained within Brazil and stretches into Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and smaller parts of some other South American countries. There are loads to know about the Amazon but here are ten interesting facts about the Amazon Rainforest (and rainforests in general) that we think are worth knowing!.
1. Around 80% of the food we eat originally came from rainforests. Some of the more popular examples include coffee, chocolate, rice, tomatoes, potatoes, bananas, black pepper, pineapples, and corn. At The Inside Track we basically live on coffee. That’s reason enough to save the rainforest!
2. Tropical rainforests only cover about 6% of the Earth’s surface, but they are home to more than half the world’s total plant and animal species.
3. The forest floor is almost completely dark. With less than 1% of the available sunlight making it through the tree canopy above, this is hardly a surprise!
4. There are around 3000 fruits found in rainforests, and in the west, we make use of around 200 of them. However, indigenous tribes make use of over 2000!
5. The rainforests have begun to be destroyed in the last 100 years to make way for farmland. Today, the rainforests are being destroyed by 1.5 acres every second. That’s not a typo.
6. With deforestation continuing at such a fast rate, we’ve created the most rapid extinction rate in the history of the world. 137 rainforest species are exterminated completely every single day.
7. Over a quarter of the medicines we use today have their origins in the rainforests – and that’s after only about 1% of rainforest plants have been examined for their medicinal properties. Imagine what else could be there? It’s not outlandish to think that our best chance of curing the diseases that plague our world could lie within the rainforest. But with so many species exterminated every day, we may never find out.
8. We often think that the soil in the rainforest is really fertile to support such a huge range of plant and animal life. But rainforest land is not really any good for farming. Once cleared, the soil is of such low quality that it can hardly be used to grow anything. After a year or two of farming, the land is totally bereft of nutrients – leaving a useless patch of land.
9. Some people call the rainforests ‘the world’s lungs’, but the decomposition of plant matter absorbs as much oxygen as the trees produce. It’s probably more accurate to think of them as having a cooling effect on the global climate, as they absorb a huge amount of heat from the sun. About 30% of our carbon emissions come from one thing – burning the rainforests.
10. A sad but true one of our facts about the Amazon Rainforest is that if deforestation continues at its current rate, we’ll completely lose the rainforest within the next 40 years. But there are things you can do to help. The search engine Ecosia plants trees with your searches, and you can plant a daily tree every day with Treeapp. Plus, governments around the world are finally beginning to act on environmental destruction. This gives us hope that things can be turned around!
Clearly now is the time to visit this amazing region, learn more about this natural marvel, and to help gain and spread awareness about how urgent the need to save the rainforest is. Stay in jungle lodges or riverboats and take in the beauty of this biologically diverse region. Go hiking, swimming, canoeing or simply photograph the many thousands of mammals, birds, reptiles and other creatures all sharing a home within the Amazon.
Have you enjoyed our facts about the Amazon Rainforest and would like to visit for yourself? Take a look at our range of Peru group tours, which feature a 2-day stay in the Amazon Rainforest.