The Amazon River, starting in the highlands of the Peruvian Andes and traveling eastward 4000 miles where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean, makes the Amazon River the largest river in the world for volume, and the second longest river behind the Nile River. The Amazon River has 1000’s of tributaries starting in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil that join together to make up the mighty Amazon River.
Two major tributaries of the Amazon River are the Ucayali and Maranon Rivers which start from glaciers and permanent snow high up on the slopes of the Andes Mountains. The Apurimac River is the most distant tributary that starts on the slopes of Nevado Mismi, one of Peru’s Andean peaks located about 100 miles from Lake Titicaca.
The Amazon Basin encompasses an area reaching 40% of South America’s landmass, starting at 5 deg above the equator and extending south to 20 deg below the equator. During the course of the year the Amazon River will vary greatly in size. During the dry season the Amazon River will cover roughly 42,000 sq. miles with the widest point of the river being about 7 miles wide. The rainy season will see the river swell to a width upwards of 28 miles wide and cover an area of almost 135,000 sq. miles. No bridges span the total length of the Amazon River.
The Amazon River sends, depending on the season, anywhere from 9 million to 32 million gallons of water and 3 tons of sediment into the Atlantic Ocean every second. The flow of water and sediment into the Atlantic is so great it dilutes the salt content upwards of 200 miles from the mouth of the Amazon River. The Amazon is accountable for 1/5 of the Earths fresh water entering the Oceans.
The mouth of the Amazon River is actually a large wide estuary, expanding almost 150 miles in width and is made up of 1000’s of islands made from deposits flowing down the Amazon River. The Para, which is the main opening in the mouth of the Amazon River, is 50 miles wide. With the mouth of the Amazon River being so wide it is greatly affected by the tidal surges of the Atlantic Ocean. At times of a new and full moon, the ocean is known to sweep upstream 400 miles. The tidal surge can reach astounding speeds of 40 mph as the river proceeds inland causing waves along the river banks reaching in excess of 15 feet in height.
Due to the size of the Amazon River it is often called an Ocean River. The river is navigable by large cargo ships and ocean liners up stream for almost 2/3 of the length of the Amazon River from the Atlantic Ocean. Manaus, situated 1000 miles upstream is called on regularly by transatlantic sized ships. Iquitos Peru, at 2300 miles from the mouth of the Amazon River is the farthest inland port in the world that has ocean traffic.