How Long is the Amazon River?
| Amazon Facts
The life-giving water of the Amazon River is one of South America’s greatest attractions. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people clamber upon boats of all shapes and sizes and cruise along this watery road in search of adventure. Fringed on either side by the most staggering rainforest of the planet, the river is nothing but impressive. The length of the Amazon River is often a topic of discussion.
For a long time the Nile River that runs through a significant portion of Africa was considered the longest river in the world at a length of 4,258 miles. However, a group of Brazilian scientists recently suggested that the Amazon River should take this title. Measuring the length of a river might seem like an easy thing to do but in reality this task is fraught with difficulties. It can also be challenging to work out where the mouth of a large river is.
The current answer to the question "How long is the Amazon River?" is 4,345 miles or 6,992 km
If we are to accept the Brazilian scientists’ theory that the Amazon River is the longest in the world, it would mean that the mouth can be found on the south side of Marajó Island. This means the river includes the Pará River and is a whopping 4,345 miles long. The contradicting and more traditional school of thought is that the Pará River belongs to the Tocantins River, not the Amazon. Without this extra stretch of water, the Amazon would measure around 3,980 miles in length. The debate as to which river is longer is still underway – maybe in the future there will be a universal agreement as to which river reigns supreme, but in the meantime it remains ambiguous.
While the length of the river is still unclear, numerous scientists have said that the length of a river doesn’t actually matter. What is much more important to know is the drainage area. The drainage area, also know as the drainage basin or the catchment area is a term for the land that contributes to the river. In other words, it is where the river’s water comes from – snowmelt, rain water and irrigation that is not absorbed back into the land. The total drainage area of the Amazon River is 2.7 million square miles. In other words, the Amazon drainage basin is only a tiny bit smaller than the entire area of Australia. And, within this gigantic expanse of water you can find 20% of the world’s freshwater supply – making the Amazon River the biggest river on earth, regardless of how long it may or may not be.
One other thing that the Amazon River wins hands down is the title for world’s widest river. In the rainy season the width of the river extends to around 25 miles. To put that figure into perspective, if you could walk across the river it would take you about 8 hours to get from one side to the other! Even the Nile River at its widest only measures around 4.6 miles. In the dry season, the Amazon River still measures a colossal 6.8 miles, completely dwarfing the Nile. That’s one mighty river we have on our hands here.
The Amazon River snakes its way through Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia and is essential for maintaining life in these countries. The annual flooding of the river keeps the flora nicely hydrated and provides water for communities that live along the riverbanks. The river is also home to a number of incredible animals, including the Amazon River dolphin, Amazonian manatee and the giant otter.
If your interest in the Amazon River has been piqued by all this talk about its grandeur then you might want to consider taking the time to explore it. With deforestation running rampant and climate change wreaking havoc worldwide, there is no knowing how much longer we will have the opportunity to explore the Amazon Rainforest. There is no time like the present to hop on an Amazon River cruise, listening the gentle lapping of the water and the calls of the tropical birds that call this region home. If you want an experience that you will never forget, look no further than the Amazon River. Contact Us for more information or call 1-888-215-3555.