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Río Amazonas, Rio Amazonas, Rio Solimões
The Amazon and its catchment area

The Amazon and its catchment area

location PeruPeru Peru , Colombia , BrazilColombiaColombia BrazilBrazil 
River system Amazon
Confluence of Río Marañón and Río Ucayali
4 ° 26 ′ 50 ″  S , 73 ° 27 ′ 2 ″  W
Source height 5170  m
muzzle Atlantic Ocean Coordinates: 0 ° 41 ′ 30 ″  N , 50 ° 11 ′ 0 ″  W 0 ° 41 ′ 30 ″  N , 50 ° 11 ′ 0 ″  W
Mouth height m
Height difference 5170 m
Bottom slope 0.74 ‰
length 6992 km
Catchment area 5,956,000 km²
Discharge at the Óbidos
A Eo gauge: 4,640,300 km²
Location: 800 km above the mouth
MQ 1928-1996
Mq 1928-1996
75,602 m³ / s
176,177 m³ / s
38 l / (s km²)
306,317 m³ / s
Discharge at the level near the mouth of the
A Eo : 5,956,000 km²
206,000 m³ / s
34.6 l / (s km²)
Left tributaries Napo , Içá , Japurá , Rio Negro
Right tributaries Juruá , Purus , Madeira , Tapajós , Xingu
Big cities Iquitos , Manaus , Santarém , Macapá
Medium-sized cities Leticia , Tabatinga , Tefé , Coari , Manacapuru , Itacoatiara , Parintins
Small towns Benjamin Constant , São Paulo de Olivença , Santo Antônio do Içá , Jutaí , Juruti
Overview of the main river of the Amazon, which crosses almost the entire South American continent

Overview of the main river of the Amazon, which crosses almost the entire South American continent

Satellite image of the river basin

Satellite image of the river basin

The Amazon (also in Portuguese Rio Amazonas , Spanish Río Amazonas , in Brazil above the confluence of the Rio Negro near Manaus Rio Solimões , formerly Rio Orellana ) is a river in northern South America . About 300 km south of the equator it crosses the Amazon basin , framed by the Andes in the west and characterized by tropical rainforest , eastwards to the Atlantic Ocean . With an average water flow of 206,000 m³ / s, the Amazon is by far the most water-rich river on earth and at its mouth it brings more water than the six next smaller rivers together and about 70 times more than the Rhine.

The river only got its name from the meeting of its two source rivers Marañón and Ucayali in Peru , interrupted, however, by the Brazilian section above the city of Manaus called Rio Solimões . The river in Brazil, which is usually several kilometers wide, has a relatively balanced water flow, as the flood phases of the tributaries meet the main stream near the equator, shifted seasonally. Nevertheless, it can flood the adjacent wooded alluvial areas ( Várzea ) over a width of up to 60 km.

In two main arms it flows through the island world of the almost 200 km wide estuary, which is also connected to the Pará estuary via tidal waters and thus separates the large island of Marajó .


The discussion about the total length of the Amazon and the related question of whether it can be addressed  as the longest river on earth - especially in comparison to the similarly long total stretch of the Nile - has been intensified since around 1950 and sometimes led emotionally. The specified total lengths depend, among other things, on the selected measuring path and fluctuate between the figure of around 6400 km established in reference works at the beginning of the 1970s and that calculated in 2007 by researchers at the Brazilian spatial research institute Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE) using satellite photos , but which is controversial , Length of 6,992 km. This number generated media interest and is used e.g. B. also cited in the Encyclopædia Britannica . Even older estimates based on the same measurement path saw the 7000 km threshold already exceeded. The INPE has also re-measured the Nile, including its tributaries, and estimates it to be around 140 km shorter than the Amazon. In contrast, in a study published in 2009, Chinese scientists came to a Nile length of 7088 km and an Amazon length of 6575 km by including another source river. Observers like the Encyclopædia Britannica believe that the race is still open.

Up until the 1930s, the length of the Amazon was measured over the Marañón, a source of greater water, but shorter. The measuring section laid today over the longest strand of the Amazon starts from the headwaters of the longer headwaters of the Ucayali river. According to cartographic measurements from 1969, it had a total length of 6448 km over the shortest flow path. The official figure has been an average of 6,788 km since the 1980s , which was formed from the shortest flow route of 6,400 km and the route of the longer flow path over the longest discharge arm of the estuary of more than 7,000 km. Even with this mean value, the Amazon could be considered the longest river on earth. The metrologically more precise measurement from 2007 is based on the most distant Amazon source in the Arequipa region in Peru, which was determined by Jacek Palkiewicz in 1996 and confirmed in 2007 . Above all, however, it is based on the longest possible drainage path in the estuary and not only includes the tidal channels leading south around the island of Marajó in the measurement path, but also follows the sea ​​bay of the Rio Pará and then, passing the Tocantins estuary, the Marajó -Bay ( Baía de Marajó ), with whose exit into the open Atlantic the measuring path ends. This route is controversial, but has been represented in Brazil for a long time because the two estuaries should be viewed as a complete system due to their complex interactions. Regardless of the longest flow paths measured in the river system, the sections of the river system that actually bear the name Amazon are considerably shorter.


Map of Amazonia (1599) by Theodor de Bry with depiction of Amazons, the headless and other mythical creatures, citing Sir Walter Raleigh

Originally, the river had changing names in sections, which were used by the respective indigenous residents. Such an original name has been preserved to this day in the Portuguese name Solimões , which is officially used for the Brazilian upper reaches up to the confluence with the Rio Negro. The Spaniard Vicente Yáñez Pinzón , who explored the river as the first European explorer, called it Río Santa María de la Mar Dulce , or Mar Dulce for short, because of the fresh water found in the open sea in front of the mouth . Later, after 1502, the river was known to the Portuguese as the Rio Grande ("Great River"), a name also used for several other rivers in Brazil. The Spaniards called it Río Marañón since 1513 , a name that is not entirely clear whether it comes from an Indian language or goes back to the Spanish word maraña , which means something like "tangle" and perhaps as a reference to the confusing The confusion of the branched watercourses is to be understood. This name was predominant in Spanish-speaking geography for a long time and has been preserved in the name of the northern source river and the Peruvian province of Marañón of the same name as well as on the lower reaches of the Brazilian state of Maranhão . The name of the estuary island Marajó may also derive from the same linguistic root.

The origin of the name Amazon is not fully understood. Mostly it is traced back to the fact that on the journey of Francisco de Orellana (who set out from Ecuador with the Gonzalo Pizarro expedition in 1540 and reached today's Amazon current in January 1542 and was the first to pass through to the mouth of the Atlantic) the Spanish explorers had Indian warriors and therefore named the river after the legendary Amazons . The chronicler of the expedition, the Dominican Gaspar de Carvajal, describes in his travel diary the meeting that allegedly took place in June 1542 with “very fair-skinned and tall women who have their very long hair braided around their heads and are very sturdy. “They fought wildly and resolutely“ like leaders at the head of the Indians ”and“ only aimed at the eyes. ”Later the Spaniards interrogated a captured Indian who is said to have reported the peculiar way of life of these women fighters. Thereupon Orellana decided to call the river the “Amazon River”.

This possibly legendary explanation for the naming, which corresponded to the then common ideas of Europeans, according to which Amazons and other extraordinary beings and monsters lived in America , was already known among seafarers and explorers a few decades after Orellana's voyage of discovery. It was first passed down by Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo († 1557), who spoke personally with Gaspar de Carvajal about the experiences and wanted the name of the warriors as "Amazons" to be understood explicitly "in a figurative sense", and later by Richard Hakluyt (1589 ), Walter Raleigh (1596) and by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (1609).

According to other hypotheses, the name could go back to the Indian word Amassona , which means something like "ship destroyer" and with which some Indian peoples referred to the tidal waves occurring in the lower reaches of the Amazon (see Pororoca ).

In German, the name continued Amazon through the 19th century until about 1800 the name was Amazon River and to the early 20th century, the name Amazon familiar.

For its part, the Amazon River gave the Amazon basin and several administrative units of the same name in Brazil , Venezuela , Colombia and Peru their names. The term Amazonia , a rather vague name for the tropical rainforest and Amazonas as a whole, is derived from the name of the largest South American river. The Amazon Basin or Amazonia are often incorrectly called the Amazon .


Historical map of the mouth
of the Amazon from Meyers Konversationslexikon 1888

Source rivers

The two headwaters of the Amazon have their source in the Peruvian Andes . The northern, 1600 km long Marañón has more water and must therefore be regarded hydrologically as the main source river of the Amazon. Its origin in three lagoons above Lake Lauricocha was determined by Wilhelm Sievers in 1909 . Occasionally a tributary of the Marañón, the Río Huallaga , was also referred to as the headwaters of the Amazon. As a shipping route, the Huallaga is more important than the Marañón.

Headwaters of the Amazon in the eastern Andes

The southern source river, the Ucayali , is including several differently named upper reaches with 2670 km significantly longer than the Marañón. The cartographic measurements at the end of the 1960s already referred to the source area of ​​the Ucayali, but the exact location of the source, which is decisive for measuring the length of the Amazon, was still unclear at the time. Since 1971 the farthest source of the Amazon in the Carhuasanta gorge on the northern slope of the 5597  m high glacier massif Nevado Mismi between Cusco and Arequipa has been assumed, around 160 km west of the city ​​of Juliaca at the northern end of Lake Titicaca . This headwaters lies much further south than the springs envisaged up to then.

The Carhuasanta stream, which rises at an altitude of 5186  m, is a tributary of the Río Apurímac, which was finally recognized as the Amazon source river in 1975 . Until the mid-1990s, the Carhuasanta Gorge was widely accepted as a source of the Amazon. The location of the source region in southern Peru was also confirmed in 2000 by data from NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) and GPS measurements from a field expedition by the National Geographic Society . In June 2007, a Peruvian-Brazilian expedition made up of researchers from the Peruvian Instituto Geográfico Militar , the Peruvian Water Authority ANA, the Brazilian Geographic Institute IBGE and the spatial research institute INPE visited both the Carhuasanta Gorge and the Apacheta Gorge, a few kilometers west of it. Gorge on Nevado Quehuisha (Kiwicha Mountain) in the Lari district in the Caylloma province, the 5170  m high neighboring mountain of the Mismi, where a spring stream also rises. This glacier creek, which had already been suggested as the main source of the Amazon river in 1996 by an international expedition team led by Jacek Palkiewicz, a geographer from the Royal Geographical Society , proved to be water-bearing all year round and about 10 km longer than the Carhuasanta, which was previously considered a source river. Since 2007, the source in the Apacheta Gorge has been recognized as the farthest Amazon source from the mouth and has been identified as the source of the Amazon by an official marker board of the Geographical Society of Lima since September 11, 2011 .

The source streams Apacheta and Carhuasanta together form the Lloqueta , which in turn flows after 13 km into the Río Hornillos , which joins the Apurímac after 32 km. After a total of 730.7 km, this continues in the Río Ene (180.6 km), then in the Río Tambo (158.5 km). The river finally forms the lower reaches of the Río Ucayali for a further 1600.1 km. Above Iquitos in Peru, this unites with the Marañón to the Amazon , which then, after crossing to Brazil, initially takes on the name Solimões on a longer stretch .

The question of the most distant Amazon source was raised again in 2014 by two scientists who identified another Ucayali tributary besides the Río Apurímac as an even more distant water source of the Amazon, which, however, unlike the Apurímac, does not provide a continuous inflow. It is the Río Mantaro , a source river of the Río Ene, the most distant source of which is about 150 km northeast of Lima in the vicinity of Lake Junín in a region closer to the tropics and, according to the study, 75–92 km further from the Amazon estuary is considered the headwaters at Nevado Mismi .

Amazon and Solimões

The first major city on the Amazon is Iquitos, the center of the Peruvian Amazon lowlands. Between the Peruvian-Brazilian border and the confluence of the Rio Negro near Manaus , the Amazon is called Rio Solimões . Manaus was the center of rubber extraction on the Amazon between 1870 and 1910 and is dominated by buildings from this period. The two largest tributaries in the world, Rio Negro and Rio Madeira , flow over the next 140 km to the Amazon . The then four to ten kilometers wide river is accompanied by a 20 to 60 km wide border of alluvial land that can only be populated on the embankments ( residual gas ). Otherwise, the Amazon lowlands are characterized by an evenly divided sandy-loamy hill country, the terra firme (= solid land). At Óbidos it comes right up to the river and creates a narrow point ( Garganta do Amazonas ) only 1670 m wide .

The Amazon and its tributaries from the Andes have compensated for the postglacial sea ​​level rise by sedimentation of their river beds. In contrast, the other tributaries with a much lower sediment load were only dammed and now form, in some cases, large, lake-like expansions such as the Río Negro, the Río Xingú or the Rio Tapajós before their confluence with the Amazon .


The mouth of the Amazon is an estuary delta . It consists of the Canal Norte (40% of the runoff) and Canal Sul (56% of the runoff) arms , which widen to form estuaries and both together form a delta, the sediment deposits of which pull down the continental slope in the shelf area off the coast .

The Bahia de Guajará and Rio Pará bay system, which extends far inland and into which the Rio Tocantins and other rivers flow, is about 100 km south of the two main arms . The southernmost estuary of the Amazon used to flow into the Rio Pará. In the meantime it has almost been separated by sedimentation. Some natural channels ( furos ), which are kept open by the changing tidal currents, still divert around 3 to 4% of the Amazon water into the Rio Pará and at the same time divide the island of Marajó .

Big cities and tributaries

Floating village on the Amazon near Iquitos

There are very few cities on the Amazon. Pucallpa is still at the source river Ucayali . The largest city on the Amazon is Iquitos , near the union of the source rivers. Contrary to popular belief, the cities of Manaus and Belém are not on the Amazon; Manaus on the Río Negro, 12 km above the mouth, and Belém on the Rio Pará (on the Bahia de Guajará) south of the Amazon estuary. Other large cities on the Amazon are Macapá and Santarém . Parintins , the second largest city in the Brazilian state of Amazonas with around 112,000 inhabitants, is located about 450 km downstream from Manaus on the island of Tupinambarana in the Amazon, one of the largest river islands in the world.

About 10,000 tributaries flow into the Amazon , of which over 100 are navigable and 17 are over 1,600 km long ( Rhine : 1,236 km).

Estuary of the Amazon
Li = left inflow
Re = right inflow


Water flow and sediment load

At its mouth, the Amazon brings an annual average of around 206,000 m³ / s of water (6600 km³ / a) to the Atlantic; that's 17 percent of the world's ocean inflows. The influence of the tides extends around 800 kilometers upstream to the town of Óbidos, which is located at a narrow part of the river that is almost 90 meters deep (about 2 km wide).

Average monthly discharge (in m³ / s) at the Óbidos gauge
(height: 1 m, catchment area: 4,640,300 km², based on the values ​​from 1928 to 1996)

Every year 1.2 billion tons of sediment are transported past the town of Óbidos, around 800 km from the mouth. About 75 percent of these reach the Atlantic, the remaining 25 percent are deposited on the lower 800 kilometers of the river.

Bifurcations and bodies of water with alternating directions of flow

The western Amazon lowlands are part of the foreland depression east of the Andes. The transitions to the north and south bordering plains east of the Andes are so imperceptible that continent-wide river bifurcations have occurred in both cases . In the north, the Brazo Casiquiare branches off from the Orinoco , and in the south there is a bifurcation on the border with the catchment area of ​​the Río Paraguay .

In the Amazon lowlands, due to the slight gradient (30 meters over the last 800 kilometers), the lower reaches of the tributaries are often connected by natural channels. These waters can have alternating flow directions depending on the water level of the neighboring rivers. The same applies to the tidal channels called Furo near the city of Breves, which separate the 49,000 km² island of Marajó from the continent. One passage is suitable for ocean ships and represents an important connection between the Amazon and the port of Belém .

Marine influences

On the right the (transparent) water of the (dark) Rio Negro and on the left the (brownish) of the Rio Solimões

The influence of ebb and flow already begins beneath the Óbidos narrows, but there is no mixing with salt water in the estuary-like channels, in contrast to the sea bays of the Rio Pará to the southeast in the estuary of the Tocantins. The reason lies in the water masses of the current, which are pushed to the northwest by the Atlantic equatorial current, but nevertheless push the salty water surface far more than 100 km into the open sea.

Several times a year a tidal wave up to four meters high rolls along the Amazon and certain tributaries several kilometers upstream with the onset of the tide from the Atlantic. After the designation poroc-poroc what in the Tupi language about "big, destructive noise" means they will Pororoca called. The prerequisite for the emergence of this phenomenon is the coincidence of low water levels (for around 3 weeks around February / March) in the low-gradient Amazon with a spring tide at a new or full moon . Feared by local residents for its destructive power, the Pororoca attracts surfers from all over the world.

Water colors

Visible demarcation between the light Amazon water and the dark water of its tributary Rio Negro

The Amazon has a light brown color, which comes from the sediment load , which is brought in in particular from the source rivers in the Andes. 90 percent of the sediments carried by the Amazon are brought in by the Madeira, Ucayali and Marañón. These rivers are known as white water rivers .

However, some tributaries come from crystalline areas with low sediment load, for example the Rio Tapajós or the Rio Xingu. They are called clear water rivers .

Some of the rivers with transparent water appear dark brown like the Rio Negro due to the humic acids dissolved in them . They are called black water rivers .

At the confluences of differently colored rivers, the different colors of the water masses can be seen for miles.


Before the breakup of what was once the great continent of Gondwana , a forerunner of today's Amazon ( Uramazonas ) flowed in the opposite direction, from east to west, and emptied into the Pacific. In addition to South America, the land mass of Gondwana united Africa , the Indian subcontinent , Australia and Antarctica to the east .

According to one hypothesis, the source of the Amazon was much further east until 130 million years ago, in the middle of today's Africa, in the Ennedi massif in the northeast of the Republic of Chad . Then, with a length of around 14,000 km, the Uramazonas would be the longest known river in the history of the earth . Such a long hypothetical upper course is doubted, since neither a corresponding valley line nor other relics could be found on the African continent.

After Gondwana broke up, the South American lithospheric plate drifted west. The Amazon basin was thus cut off from the former headwaters of the Uramazonas, and the river valleys on the eastern edge of the area fell dry. At the same time, the Andes folded up on the west coast of the continent, since the South American plate has since pushed onto the Pacific plate . Due to the associated closure of the outflow, the course of the river was reversed around 10 to 15 million years ago. But because uplift initially took place in the center of the Amazon basin, this happened in two phases: While the eastern slopes were already draining into the Atlantic via an Amazon forerunner, huge inland lakes formed on the western side, the deposits of which today largely make up the subsoil of the terra firme . It was only when these lakes drained eastwards after around five million years that today's river network was able to develop.

This explains, on the one hand, why the river plains of the Amazon are unusually narrower towards the mouth, and on the other hand, why animals such as rays , shrimp , manatees , dolphins and even sharks can be found in the upper reaches of the Amazon, thousands of kilometers from the sea coast . Some of the animal species may have ended up in the Amazon while it was still flowing into the Pacific and were later cut off from the sea.

Flora and fauna

Floating island in the Amazon

More than 1500 different fish species are known, whose habitat is the river system of the Amazon. The abundance of fish is also reflected in the menus. The most important food fish include: Tambaquí (Colossoma macropomum), Jaraqui , Filhote, Tucunaré (Cichla spp.), Pirarucú (Arapaima gigas). In addition, there are tons of regionally occurring fish, including species of piranhas , the primeval-looking Tamuatã (Hoplosternum littorale) and others.

The Amazonian manatee ( Trichechus inunguis ) and the pink Amazon dolphin ( Inia geoffrensis; Portuguese Boto cor-de-rosa ) are particularly endangered animal species that colonize the Amazon .

In the Amazon there are green islands that develop from entangled trees that have been swept along with each other or, during floods, from torn water plants and grass islands linked by roots. They can be over 100 meters long and form their own biotope .

Another special feature are the so-called devil's gardens , monocultures of red plants .

Threat to the ecosystem

Not only is the rainforest in the Amazon region slowly being destroyed by humans, the habitat in the river is also being damaged. Gold diggers have dumped more than 2,000 tons of mercury into the Amazon over the past ten years . It enters the food chain through contaminated water and the air. At the same time, the mining of gold is accelerating deforestation in the Amazon region. The gold diggers' main centers are in Bolivia , Suriname , Guyana and French Guyana .

In 2005 the Amazon region was hit by a hitherto rare drought. There was a second wave of drought between July and October 2010. Drought, especially in connection with forest fires, led to ecological and economic feedback effects, which accelerated the threat to the Amazon ecosystem.

The progressive clearing of the primeval forests also exposes the nutrients in the soil to leaching and dissolution due to the high rainfall. The main cause of the destruction of the Amazon forest is meat production. Around 70 percent of the destroyed tropical forest was cleared for pastures, a large part of the rest for the cultivation of feed.

local residents

Women in Yurimaguas ( Peru ) play bingo with corn kernels

Around one million members of indigenous groups live in the Amazon region. Their territories in Brazil are demarcated by the local Indian authority FUNAI. In Brazil, over a million square kilometers have been designated as Indian areas so far, which corresponds to around 20 percent of the area. 150 indigenous peoples live in these areas. Nevertheless, there are sometimes violent disputes with intruding gold prospectors ( Garimpeiros ) and timber entrepreneurs in the Indian regions. The residents who live directly on rivers - often in simple huts on stilts due to the risk of flooding - are called Caboclos . They often make a living from fishing, the manufacture of rubber , some livestock and the sale of Brazil nuts and fruits in nearby markets.


A container ship in the port of Manaus (in the background the Rio Negro)
A typical regional freight and passenger ship in the Amazon region

The river is still the main artery of the Amazon, especially for the transport of goods. There are hardly any trunk roads and railways alongside the shore. Most cities can be reached by scheduled flights, but these are not affordable for a large part of the inhabitants of the Amazon region, which is why the typical regional ships are used. Most of the passengers sleep in the hammock they have brought with them. Goods are transported in the lower part of the ship. Downstream the ships use the main current, upstream the numerous accompanying waterways with lower currents are preferred.

The Amazon is navigable from the Atlantic coast to Manaus with ocean ships. Even the tributaries Rio Tapajos and Rio Negro are used by cruise ships. These large ships can land in Manaus and now in some other places as well. From the estuary, the main shipping route runs over the 300-meter-wide Canal de Breves south around the island of Marajó to Belém.

Roads are mostly impassable during the rainy season . There are no road or rail bridges over the Amazon or the Rio Solimões.

History of discovery and exploration

The mouth of the Amazon was visited in the spring of 1500 by the Spaniard Vicente Yáñez Pinzón as the first European seafarer.

On an expedition led by Gonzalo Pizarro , who was actually looking for the legendary cinnamon land , Francisco de Orellana arrived in 1541 together with Pizarro from Quito in today's Ecuador via the Río Napo to Amazonia and traveled with them after his unfortunate separation from the main group his team as the first European to cross the Amazon to the mouth of the Atlantic. He gave the Río Negro his name due to the striking color phenomena at its confluence and was the first European explorer to reach the main river of the Amazon on February 12, 1542, which he is said to have named on July 24, 1542 after the legendary warriors. On August 26, 1542, the expedition reached the Atlantic and Orellana turned north and continued along the coast towards Venezuela. After this trip, the newly discovered course of the river was also named Río Orellana after him for a while .

About twenty years later, a group of adventurers who were actually looking for the legendary gold country Eldorado , also coming from Quito under the leadership of Pedro de Ursúa , reached the Amazon for the second time in September 1560. On this trip there was a rebellion and murder of Ursúa and many fellow travelers by the conquistador Lope de Aguirre , who seized the leadership of the group, King Philip II of Spain renounced allegiance and established a reign of terror. Aguirre reached the mouth of the Amazon in June 1561 and released the Peruvian highland Indians with him in the jungle before he went out to sea and in July 1561 reached Isla Margarita off the coast of Venezuela .

From October 1637 to August 1638 Pedro Teixeira sailed the Amazon for the first time upstream to the source of the Napo.

Samuel Fritz , a German Jesuit missionary , was the first to map the Amazon in 1707.

Many South American researchers explored the Amazon, including the Germans Alexander von Humboldt - he explained the fork of the Orinoco and Amazon ( bifurcation ) -, Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff and Eduard Friedrich Poeppig and the explorer of the headwaters, Wilhelm Sievers . Among other things, the two German researchers and natural scientists Johann Baptist von Spix and Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius traveled large parts of the Amazon and made significant contributions to the study of the still unmanageable flora and fauna of the Amazon region.

Water sports and other records

On February 1, 2007, at the age of 52 , the Slovenian Martin Strel started a record attempt in swimming through the Amazon (lengthways). He covered a total of 5268 km along the river within 66 days. He began his record attempt in Peru in the jungle town of Atalaya and finished it in the Brazilian city of Belém.

The Brazilian Picuruta Salazar surfed the Pororoca wave for 37 minutes and about 12 km .

The British Ed Stafford was the first person to hike from the source of the Amazon to the mouth. He needed 859 days for this 6400 km journey (April 2008 to August 2010).

See also


  • Cristóbal de Acuña (1597–1675): Nuevo descubrimiento del gran río de las Amazonas (first published 1641). Edited, introduced, commented on and provided with annotations and registers by Ignacio Arellano, José María Díez Borque and Gonzalo Santonja, Universidad de Navarra / Vervuert, Madrid / Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-86527-460-1 (source edition on the history of discovery of the Amazon, see review in the Revista chilena de literatura , 2010) (Spanish).
  • Sepp Friedhuber : Uramazonas. River from the Sahara. With contributions by Klaus Giessner, Herbert Habersack, Gero Hillmer u. a. 2nd Edition. Tecklenborg, Steinfurt 2006, ISBN 3-939172-01-4 .
  • Kai-Uwe Hinrichs: Selected lipids in sediments of the Santa Barbara basin and the Amazon fan . Testimony to late Quaternary paleoenvironmental conditions. (Science Edition, Chemistry Series, Volume 106). Tectum, Marburg 1997, ISBN 3-89608-819-X (also dissertation at the University of Oldenburg 1997)
  • Joe Kane: We conquered the Amazon . Report on the only international expedition from the source to the mouth (original title: Running the Amazon. Translated by Andrea Galler). Knaur Taschenbuch 77042, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-426-77042-3 . (First edition: Knaur, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-426-26307-6 )
  • Václav Kubícek: Amazon Adventure. From the springs to the Atlantic by kayak and raft . Bucheli, Zug / Pietsch / Stuttgart 1989, ISBN 3-7168-1769-4 .
  • Frank Semper: Gateway to the Amazon [Rio Caquetá area]. Sebra, Hamburg 1999, ISBN 3-9805953-1-5 .
  • Tom Sterling: The Amazon . In: The wilds of the world . 8th edition. Time-Life, Amsterdam 1979.


  • Epo Film GmbH: Ur-Amazonas with Sepp Friedhuber and Herbert Habersack

Web links

Commons : Amazon  album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g Alarich R. Schultz, Raymond E. Crist, James J. Parsons: Amazon River. As of May 25, 2017 (accessed July 2017).
  2. a b c d e Jacques Callède u. a .: Les apports en eau de l'Amazone à l'Océan Atlantique . In: Revue des sciences de l'eau / Journal of Water Science. Vol. 23, No. 3, Montreal 2010, pp. 247–273 (accessed on August 19, 2013)
  3. GRDC: data of the Óbidos level
  4. Amazon . In: Lexikonredaktion of the Bibliographisches Institut (Ed.): Meyers Großes Taschenlexikon . tape 1 . A - Spec . Mannheim / Vienna / Zurich 1983, ISBN 3-411-01921-2 , pp. 287 .
  5. (in m³ / s) Congo 40,000, Meghna (Brahmaputra + Ganges) 36,500, Orinoco 35,000, Yangtze 32,000, Yenisei 19,600, Paraná 19,500, Lena 17,100, .. Rhine 2900
  6. a b How Long Is the Amazon River? Accessed December 31, 2018 .
  7. a b c d Lucia Magi: El rey de todos los ríos ya tiene un nacimiento cierto. In: El País , May 26, 2008, accessed July 2017.
  8. a b c Estudo do INPE indica que o rio Amazonas é 140 km mais extenso do que o Nilo. INPE press release of July 1, 2008, accessed July 2017.
  9. Shaochuang Liu, P Lu, D Liu, P Jin, W Wang: Pinpointing the sources and measuring the lengths of the principal rivers of the world . In: Int. J. Digital Earth . 2, March 1, 2009, pp. 80-87. doi : 10.1080 / 17538940902746082 .
  10. a b Dieter Engelmann: Amazonia. WDR ( Planet Wissen ), as of June 13, 2017 (accessed in August 2017).
  11. The earlier measurements follow the shorter main arm, the Canal do Norte , to the South Atlantic in the estuary . The new measuring path presented by INPE, on the other hand, follows the furthest path of the flowing water and subsequent sea bays. This runs through the Canal do Sul and then follows the shipping route to the Rio Pará , which branches off the southern branch of the estuary and leads up tide via connecting channels around the island of Marajó, past neighboring estuaries, through the Tocantins estuary into the Baía de Marajó and with its outlet into the open Atlantic ends.
  12. ^ A b Günter Paul: The Amazon is longer than the Nile. In: FAZ , July 4, 2007, accessed July 2017.
  13. a b M. Molinier u. a .: Hydrology du bassin de l'Amazone. (PDF; 829 kB) at: , 1993.
  14. a b c Amazonenstrom , in Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon , 6th edition, volume 1. Leipzig 1902, p. 412:
    "The A., so named by Orellana because he heard the Indians on the Parastrom call it Amassona (" boat destroyer ") and concluded that there were Amazons in this area, was discovered in 1499 by Vincent Pinzon at its mouth and in 1535 by the Discovered by the Spaniards at its source, fully navigated by Orellana in 1540. "
  15. ^ A b Isaac Taylor: Names and Their Histories: A Handbook of Historical Geography and Topographical Nomenclature . BiblioBazaar, Charleston, NC 2008, ISBN 978-0-559-29667-3 , p. 44 ( geographically limited online preview in Google Book Search - USA )
  16. ^ Adrian Room: Placenames of the World: Origins and Meanings of the Names for 6,600 Countries, Cities, Territories, Natural Features, and Historic Sites . 2nd edition, McFarland, London 2006, ISBN 0-7864-2248-3 , p. 317.
  17. a b c Elena Mampel González, Neus Escandell Tur (ed.): Lope de Aguirre. Crónicas: 1559-1561. Barcelona 1981, p. 3, note 1.
  18. a b According to Adrian Room ( Placenames of the World . 2nd ed., London 2006, p. 237) the name should be based on the words para ("river"), na ("parents") and jho (" step out") go back:
    "Name of Guaraní origin, from para ," river, " na ," parent, "and jho ," to go out, "which evolved to the current form."
  19. See definition of the RAE (Spanish).
  20. ^ First edited by José Toribio Medina , Seville 1894; last in full length ed. by Juan B. Bueno Medina: Descubrimiento del río de las Amazonas. Relacion de Fr. Gaspar de Carvajal; exfoliada de la obra de José Toribio Medina, edición de Sevilla, 1894 . Bogotá 1942 (digitized version of the Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes ); Selected edition by Julio Tobar Donoso (ed.): Historiadores y cronistas de las misiones. Estudio y selecciones de Julio Tobar Donoso. Puebla / Quito 1960, pp. 443-480 (digitized version of the Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes , Amazon episode on pp. 471-475). Excerpts in German from Heinrich Harrer , Heinrich Pleticha : First-hand history of discovery. Reports and documents from eyewitnesses and contemporaries from three millennia. Würzburg 1968 (chapter “Fighting with Amazons”, pp. 276–279). Retelling by Robert a. Evamaria Grün (ed. And edit.): The conquest of Peru. Pizarro and other conquistadors 1526–1712. The eyewitness accounts of Celso Gargia, Gaspar de Carvajal and Samuel Fritz. Tübingen 1973, pp. 266–272 (most recently published as a completely, completely, and abridged new edition by Ernst Bartsch and Evamaria Grün (eds.): Stuttgart / Vienna 1996, ISBN 3-522-61330-9 ). Excerpts from Carvajal's report, including especially parts of the Amazon episode, can also be found translated in Wolfram zu Mondfeld: Blut, Gold und Ehre. The conquistadors conquer America. Munich 1981, pp. 292-296.
  21. Carvajal after Toribio Medina (Tobar, p. 472):
    "Estas mujeres son muy blancas y altas, y tienen muy largo el cabello y entrenzado y revuelto a la cabeza, y son muy membrudas y andan desnudas en cueros, tapadas sus vergüenzas, con sus arcos y flechas en las manos, haciendo tanta guerra como diez indios. "
  22. Elke Mader: Ethnological myth research. Theoretical perspectives and examples from Latin America. ( Memento of May 18, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Vienna 2005 (online publication), p. 105:
    “Father Carjaval [sic] , who was seriously injured in this incident, reports: 'The Amazons were naked, only their shame was covered. They held bows and arrows in their hands, and each of them fought like ten men. ' (Caspar de Crajaval [sic] in Gheerbrant 1990: 27) "
  23. Carvajal after Toribio Medina (Tobar, p. 471):
    "Peleaban como capitanes delante de los indios."
  24. Grün, p. 269.
  25. Carvajal records the questions and answers in detail (cf. Tobar, p. 473).
  26. Grün, p. 273.
  27. Even the Portuguese navigator Lopes Vaez, quoted by Richard Hakluyt in 1589, believed that the “Amazons” were warrior women who came to the aid of their husbands (cf. Jaime Martínez Tolentino: Dos crónicas desconocidas de Lope de Aguirre. Madrid 2012, P. 147). Room ( Placenames of the World . 2nd ed., London 2006, p. 27) assumes, without giving any reason, that they were male warriors who were beardless and wore long hair. Mader ( Ethnologische Mythenforschung . Wien 2005, p. 9. 14. 101. 105) assumes that "women certainly defend themselves manfully against attacks" and assumes that pre-defined European myths influence and overlap each other about the “New World” and indigenous mythologies, which also knew narrative traditions about warlike women. Jörg Denzer ( The Conquest of the Augsburg Welser Society in South America 1528–1556. Munich 2005, p. 180) confirms that “Amazon myths [..] were not uncommon in the Amazon” with reference to Helmut Schindler and Ulrike Prinz (ibid . Note 101) as part of his description of the second expedition of Philipp von Hutten (1541–1546), which took place at the same time as Orellana's journey , and who believed that he had located the land of the Amazons based on information from the Omagua . Ricardo Accurso ( Las Amazonas de Fray Gaspar de Carvajal. In: Aula de Letras. Humanidades y Enseñanza. Primera época: 2003-2005, online magazine , Buenos Aires 2005) points out that both the appearance of the “American Amazons ”as well as the description of their way of life by the prisoners interviewed by Orellana are“ practically a blueprint of the Greek myth ”, which the Spaniards interpreted in the statements of the Indian through suggestive questions and linguistic misunderstandings.
  28. Elke Mader: Ethnological myth research. Theoretical perspectives and examples from Latin America. ( Memento of May 18, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Vienna 2005 (online publication), p. 14.
  29. María Jesús Benites: El Gran Río de las Amazonas: Relatos del desengaño (Siglo XVI). In: Espéculo. Revista de estudios literarios. Universidad Complutense Madrid , 2011. Oviedo quotes Carvajal as saying:
    "Y entre nosotros las llamamos amazonas impropriamente." ("And among ourselves we improperly called them 'Amazons'.")
  30. See Jaime Martínez Tolentino: Dos crónicas desconocidas de Lope de Aguirre. Editorial Fundamentos, Madrid 2012, p. 147.
  31. Gerald Sammet: The world of maps: Historical and modern cartography in dialogue. Wissen Media Verlag (Bertelsmann), Gütersloh / Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-577-07251-9 , p. 242.
  32. ^ Adrian Room: Placenames of the World . 2nd edition, London 2006, p. 27 ( geographically limited online preview in Google Book Search USA ).
  33. Access to the frequency of mentions in the digitized Google Books inventory (Google Ngram Viewer) , as of August 2018.
  34. Charles Ichoku (NASA): Source of the Amazon River. In: Visible Earth. A catalog of NASA images and animations of our home planet. Status: July 31, 2017, accessed on the same day.
  35. Source of the Amazon discovered. In: Spiegel Online , December 14, 2000, accessed July 31, 2017.
  36. Valle del Colca será sede de la carrera pedestre a mayor altura. In El Comercio , September 10, 2014, accessed July 31, 2017.
  37. James Contos, Nicholas Tripcevich: Correct placement of the most distant source of the Amazon River in the Mantaro River drainage. In: Area (Journal of the Royal Geographical Society ), Volume 46, Issue 1 (February 12, 2014), pp. 27-39. doi: 10.1111 / area.12069
  38. Ahnert, F. (2009): Introduction to Geomorphology. 4th edition. 393 pp.
  39. a b Tom Sterling: The Amazon . Time-Life Books, 8th edition. 1979, p. 19.
  40. ^ Harald Sioli : Studies in Amazonian waters. In: Atas do Simpósio sôbre a Biota. Volume?, Conselho Nacional de Pesquisas, Rio de Janeiro 1967, pp. 9-50.
  41. a b Surfing the pororoca. In: Archived from the original on April 17, 2015 (June 15, 2012 at the latest).;
  42. cf. Sepp Friedhuber: "Uramazonas", see "Literature"
  43. Alexander von Humboldt already reported in 1801/02 that fishermen were selling fresh sharks, rays and sardines at the market in the city of Iquitos in the middle of the Peruvian rainforest
  44. ^ Daniel Lingenhöhl: The Amazon from Africa. Review of Sepp Friedhuber: Uramazonas.
  45. ^ Joseph J. Molnar, Fernando Alcántara Bocanegra, Salvador Tello: Identifying goals and priorities of fish farmers in the Peruvian Amazon. (pdf; 333 kB) In: A. Gupta, K. McElwee, D. Burke, J. Burright, X. Cummings, H. Egna (eds.): Eighteenth Annual Technical Report. Pond Dynamics / Aquaculture CRSP, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.
  46. The Forests of the World - A Status Report. (PDF) WWF Germany , August 15, 2011, p. 27 , accessed on June 30, 2016 .
  47. In focus: South America Adventure Amazon. In: 3sat. Retrieved June 30, 2016 .
  48. Living Amazon Report 2016. (PDF) WWF, June 1, 2016, p. 54 , accessed on June 30, 2016 (English).
  49. Amazon: Drought dried up half the jungle. In: Spiegel Online . February 4, 2011, accessed June 30, 2016 .
  50. Daniel C. Nepstad: The vicious circle in the Amazon. (PDF) WWF Germany , December 5, 2007, accessed June 30, 2016 .
  51. According to the organization Survival, 20 percent of the indigenous Yanomami died during the gold rush in the 1980s as a result of imported diseases and violence.
  52. Felipe Almeida: Extreme Amazon hike: 6400 kilometers, 50,000 mosquito bites, 859 days. on: Spiegel online. August 9, 2010.