The Amazon is an immense natural region, individualized by elements of nature, such as climate, vegetation, hydrography, etc., which extends over 6.5 million square kilometers in northern South America.
It is a region international (continental Amazon), also known as Pan-Amazon, it occupies part of the territory of several countries: Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. This immense green area represents one third of the world reserve of broadleaved forests, with an equatorial climate (hot and humid) and rich hydrography.
In the regions of Peru and Bolivia, one of the great pre-Columbian civilizations developed , whose members were called sons of the Sun or Incas.
The Legal Amazon is the portion located in the Brazilian territory , with almost 5 million square kilometers (4,978,247 km 2 ), a surface that covers 58.4% of the total area of Brazil. It’s the Legal Amazon.
It was established in 1966, by the federal government, with the creation of Sudam (Superintendence for the Development of the Amazon). Sudam was created with the aim of encouraging industry and agriculture, creating roads, promoting settlement etc.
The Legal Amazon includes all forest formations in the equatorial forest (várzea and igapó forest, terra firma forest and semi-humid forest) and transition areas to the caatinga and cerrado .
The Legal Amazon is formed by the states of the North region (Acre, Rondônia, Amazonas , Pará, Roraima, Amapá, Tocantins), by the western portion of Maranhão and Mato Grosso.
Characteristics of the Amazon
Discovering and exploring the Amazon have always been risky adventures. The first travelers who crossed the Amazon River paid for their boldness with their lives. Francisco de Orellana, the first to cross the Amazon River, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, disappeared, trying to make the same path, in the labyrinths of the island of Marajó. Many 19th-century researchers had the same end. Anthropologists, journalists and health workers have also succumbed to the mysteries of the equatorial jungle.
At the beginning of the colonization of South America , the Amazon was the territory of the Spanish Crown, which had a great interest in the mineral wealth of the Andes. Portugal, in turn, begins the exploration of the territory, surpassing the Treaty of Tordesillas .
The first expeditions were limited to the recognition of the area and vegetable extraction, the so-called “sertão drugs”: aromatic herbs, medicinal plants, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, chestnuts and guarana.
However, there was great concern about the invasions of French and Dutch expeditions, which did not accept the Treaty of Tordesillas and wanted to take over part of the land.
Portugal, in the 17th and 18th centuries, created a particular strategy for the possession and exploration of the Amazon: the installation of forts and religious missions, which led the Indians to explore the “sertão drugs”.
The Amazon River was explored from its mouth to the eastern slope of the Andes. Its tributaries were also explored. The settlement of the Amazon was organized through a network of circulation of rivers and streams, being a linear occupation.
Until the middle of the 20th century, waterways continued to be the only “roads” in the Amazon. The other way to reach the Amazon was by air, through the international airports of Belém and Manaus.
Another migratory wave occurred with the construction of Brasília . Penetration and exploration in the Amazonian space were responsible for the exchange of rivers for integration highways.
Highway BR-364, which connects Cuiabá, in Mato Grosso, to Porto Velho, in Rondônia, with a length of 1,456 kilometers. This open path to the west of the Amazon caused unrestrained devastation of the forest.
Recently, the “conquest” of the Amazon was encouraged by the State through major projects to exploit the region’s natural resources.
Despite five centuries of exploitation by the white man of the Amazon, there are still isolated tribes, with almost no contact with the so-called Western civilization.
The Amazon rainforest ecosystem
The Amazon is a huge and complex ecosystem, considered the richest and most varied on the entire planet.
The river and the forest are the two natural elements that stand out in the Amazon.
The Amazon rainforest has the largest variety of plant and animal species in the world (biodiversity).
In this decade alone, researchers have discovered seven new primate species in the Amazon.
The Amazon is individualized for its vegetation: an equatorial broadleaved forest, very diversified. It is an evergreen vegetation: its leaves do not fall in autumn-winter, as in temperate vegetation. It is a very closed, dense forest, because the trees are very close to each other, are arranged on three floors and have a tangle of vines, parasites, etc.
The Amazon forest, due to its location and hydrography, soils and climates, is subdivided into:
- Igapó forest,permanently flooded.
- Lowland forest,flooded during the floods. It is the habitat of the rubber tree.
- Dry land forest,far from floods. The chestnut, caucho and guaraná are usually located there.
The predominant climate in the Amazon is equatorial: hot and humid. Monthly thermal averages vary between 24 ° C and 26 ° C. When the cold front that comes from the south of the continent, in winter, reaches the western or western portion of the Amazon, the temperature drops to 16 ° C to 18 ° C. phenomenon known as coldness.
In the Amazon, it is the largest basin of the planet formed by the Amazon river and its tributaries (4.8 million km2, approximately). The Amazon River, 7,075 km long, is the longest river on Earth. The Amazon basin has the most different types of fish.
The water lily is a typical plant of riverbeds, ponds and streams in the Amazon.
The relief is formed by plains (along rivers), depressions and residual plateaus. On the borders with Venezuela and the Guianas (plateau of the Guianas), the altitudes reach more than 2,000 meters.
The soil Amazon are poor and are subject to erosion caused by rain. These soils are protected by the forest, because the large number of trees in close proximity, together with the layer of foliage on the ground, prevents rainwater from falling directly on them, wearing them out. The falling leaves are decomposed and absorbed by the forest.
The natural elements of this ecosystem are quite interdependent. Changing one of the elements causes changes in the others.
The vegetation of the Amazon rainforest, in addition to protecting the soil, also contributes to the humidity of the air, responsible for the frequent rains that feed rivers and lakes. It is believed that 50% of the humidity in the Amazon originates from itself (evapotranspiration) and the rest comes from the oceans. In the event of the destruction of the forest (which is already happening), there will be a decrease in air humidity and rainfall levels, and the soil will be impoverished by the loss of protection and nutrients that the dense forest provides.