South America is home to the world’s largest adjoining rainforest, the mighty Amazon Rainforest, covering much of South America the Amazon Rainforest is not the only rainforest to be found in South America, also must be included are the Temperate Rainforest of Southern Chile and Argentina and the Mata Atlantic in southeastern Brazil.
What is a rainforest? Typically a rainforest is a non seasonal forest, tall trees or forest living in an area of year round rain and hot humid weather. A typical rainforest will see on average of 50 to 260 inches of rain a year and temperatures ranging from a low in the high 60’s F to a high in the low 90’s F with humidity in the high 70 to 80 %.
The Earth’s landmass is now covered by less than 6% of rainforest, the Amazon Rainforest makes up almost half of the planets rainforest. The Earths total rainforest’s provide almost 40% of the planets oxygen.
Normally there are 2 types of Rainforest as can be found in South America, Tropical and Temperate.
Tropical, such as the Amazon Rainforest, is a forest of tall broadleaf evergreen trees that usually will provide a large canopy, where below will be found large wide open sections with enormous amount of plant and animal life. Tropical rainforest are usually found from 22.5 degrees north of the equator to 22.5 degrees south of the equator. Bordered by the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, tropical rainforest are found in a narrow band around the earth's center. The Amazon Rainforest spreads over a vast majority of South America, and has a presence in 9 of South Americas 13 countries, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana can all claim a part of the Amazon Rainforest with the majority being found in Brazil.
Mata Atlantic, Brazils other rainforest, often called the Atlantic Rainforest is situated along Brazil's southeast coast. Extending south from Rio Grande do Norte southward to Rio Grande do Sul the rain forest extends 500 miles inland. The Mata Atlantic is unusual in that it is classified as a true tropical rainforest yet extends as far south as 24 degrees south. At the time of Portuguese colonization in the 16th century it is estimated that the Mata Atlantic covered over 386,000 sq miles, today only between 7 and 10 % of the Atlantic Rainforest remains. The Mata Atlantic region is now home to ¾ of Brazil’s population as well as Brazil’s main industrial cities. The Mata Atlantic is older than the Amazon Rainforest and evolved separately from the massive rainforest to the northwest. It is believed that the Atlantic Rainforest has the highest bio diversity in the world.
Temperate, such as can be found on the southern parts of Chile and Argentina, are found at higher regions of the Earth’s latitudes. Having a more maritime, wet climate, moisture rises from the oceans and is usually trapped by coastal mountain ranges as those found in Chile and Argentina’s Andes Mountains. Rainfall in a temperate rainforest is usually not as much as a tropical rainforest, ranging around 50 to 60 inches a year. Temperatures are known to drop below freezing and usually will not go higher than the low 80’s, with cool cloud covered or foggy summer days and wet, cold winter days.
Wet tropical rainforest are home to the largest population of plant, tree and animal species in the world. South Americas Amazon Rainforest has more species of plants and animals of any rainforest found in the world. It is believed that the Amazon Rainforest is home to over 75,000 types of trees, 150,000 plants let alone thousands of different animals and millions of insects calling the Amazon Rainforest home. About ¼ of the world medicines are derived from plants and trees found in the Amazon Rainforest.