8 incredible facts about the jungle in Brazil
A trip to the rainforest in Brazil - there is a lot to tell about. We have summarized the 8 most incredible facts for you.
When we think of the jungle, we think of wild animals, being in middle of nature and adventure. Don't you? The Amazon is special. It is full of extraordinary animal and plant species. You can hardly imagine how many different species live there! Yet we humans have by no means come even close exploring everything. There are probably millions of species in the vastness of the jungle that are still unknown to us.
1. Forest for as far as the eye can see - The largest rain forest in the world
In total, eighty countries around the world have tropical rainforests. The Amazon rainforest comprises more than half of the world's remaining tropical rainforest. Continental Amazonia is the last large, continuous area of tropical rainforest on earth.
The Amazon Rainforest in South America covers six million square kilometres in nine different countries. Thirteen percent of the Amazon is in Peru, and 10% is in Colombia. Other smaller parts of the rainforest are in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana. The largest part of the Amazon, a whopping 60%, is in Brazil.
If you are planning to tour of Brazil, chances are high that you will encounter the Amazon. The Amazon basin covers 3.89 million square kilometres of Brazil. That's 45% of the country.
2. The greatest diversity worldwide – vibrant and full of life
The greatest range of biodiversity on the entire planet earth is found in the Amazon. There is no other place on earth with a greater diversity. About 25% of the world's flora and fauna species live here. This includes 300 species of mammals and reptiles each, as well as more than 1,300 species of birds. Insects are also incredibly abundant there. It is even thought that the world's rainforests could be home for up to 30 million species of insects.
The largest number of fish species in the world can also be found in the rivers of the Amazon. One thousand five hundred species have been scientifically described. However, in reality there are probably twice as many species that have not yet been discovered. Compared to the rivers in Europe, there are 15 times as many fish species in the Amazon.
If you're looking for action and an adventure, the wild jungle is definitely the place to be. Among the many species there are of course some that are not entirely harmless. These include predators such as the black caiman, jaguar, puma and anaconda. Danger lurks in the water as well. You shouldn’t only be looking out for the piranhas but electric eels as well.
In the waters of the Amazon it is also possible to see one of the largest freshwater fish, the Arapaima. Vampire bats live in the forest and can transmit the rabies virus. Be cautious of the dangers and the risk of infection before you embark on your Amazon adventure. Remember to talk to your doctor about important vaccinations before your trip.
3. Wonderful survivors - The tropical plants
There is no other place on earth where you will find such a variety of plant species like in the Amazon. The diversity is so great that some of the numbers can only be estimated. Some experts believe that one square kilometre of Amazonia has over a thousand trees and about 90,790 tons of living plants. It is almost unimaginable. So far, about 438,000 plants of economic and social interest have been discovered in the region. However, there are still many plants that are undiscovered.
This is all quite impressive. But did you know that the soil of the tropical rain forest is quite barren and poor in nutrients due to the constant rain? It is even more astonishing how this place could become the most species-rich habitat on earth. The plants here are true survivors. The important nutrients are found almost exclusively above the ground in both living and dead plants. To reach their valuable food, the plants have created a perfect cycle.
The orchids that live on our windowsills have a hard time in nature. They are so called sit-on plants because they grow on the branches and twigs of the trees. They do not do this in order to draw nutrients from the trees but rather for more exposure to sunshine. They do not steal nutrients, but rather supply themselves completely independently. For example, through aerial roots.
And did you know that 25 percent of modern medicines contain important ingredients from the rainforest? Centuries ago, the natives used plants as a remedy. Everything that nature has to offer is used: crushed leaves, bark and wood or even smaller insects. They lived in their own green pharmacy and learned here how to use nature for their health. From a medical point of view, we have only examined one percent of the plants in detail. There is still a lot to discover in the rainforest, which can also be important for medicine.
4.Life in the middle of the jungle - The indigenous tribes
Around 17 million people live in the Amazon. Of them, 62% of them live in urban centres like Manaus, and the rest in remote areas. The Amazon was settled way back in time and there has been a discovery of ceramic finds in this region. Archaeologists today are still digging and keep making exciting discoveries. The oldest are estimated to be up to 12,000 years old.
It is estimated that 16 indigenous tribes still live in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest today. They live far away from modern civilization and rarely encounter it. Most of the inhabitants are Brazil nut collectors, rubber tappers, small fishermen and fruit collectors. They live from fishing and hunting, growing cassava and collecting forest products such as lianas, medicinal herbs, fruits, barks, fibres, resins and adhesives. Nobody knows nature better than them and nobody deals with it better. They protect it because their survival depends on it.
Sadly, the number of indigenous people is decreasing. While Brazil's immigrant population has increased by 27 times in the last 500 years, the indigenous population has decreased by 20 factors. When the Portuguese settled in Brazil, there were around six million indigenous people with 1,300 indigenous languages in Brazil. Currently there are only 430,000 indigenous people with 170 different languages. Similarly, to the past, the indigenous population has suffered mainly from parasitic diseases and malaria.
The great thing is that you can experience their culture not only in the middle of the jungle, but also in other parts of Brazil. For example, by their music. The people of the Tupi-Guaraní have shaped the main elements of the folkloric music style Carimbó. In the Amazon region, but also in the state of Pará and its surroundings, Carimbó is today considered one of the most typical folk dances. If the music is not enough for you and if you wish to spend a few nights in the Amazon, there is a lodge that is suitable for everyone!
There are many choices. If you want to experience the jungle in its pristine state and do not need a lot of luxury, the Turtle Lodge in the middle of the jungle at the Mamori River is the right place for you. Comfortable international standard in the Anavilhanas National Park is available at the Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge. Or stay overnight in a simple Eco Lodge away from other hotels and big cities along the Tupana River and thus discover the beautiful rainforest up close. If you really want to live like the indigenous tribes in the middle of the rainforest, you should visit the Tariri Lodge. There is no direct road to the accommodation. You can only reach the lodge by boat. No matter how you want to spend the night, there is a suitable lodge for every jungle visitor for an unforgettable rainforest experience.
5. Gigantic air conditioning - The forest and its climate benefits
Many experts call the rainforest an ecological CO₂ filter. It produces 96 tons of excess oxygen per year, which is about 0.00008% of the atmosphere. The rainforest also absorbs a significant amount of carbon dioxide.
Due to its immense water balance, the huge area of the Brazilian rainforest has a great influence on the entire Earth's atmosphere. The natural vegetation and its cloud roof protect the earth from a worse global warming. A destruction of the forests would reduce this cooling effect and release the greenhouse gases bound by biomass, which then would contribute even more to global warming.
There are scientists who estimate the equivalent of the current climate benefit of the Amazon rainforest to be at least 1 trillion dollars. But there are also other studies that assume that we humans would have to invest more than $3 trillion a year to control a global warming effect that would increase significantly without the Amazon Rainforest.
Unfortunately, however, serious interventions such as deforestation and slash-and-burn clearing are not ending, and the rainforest is under an increasing threat. Every single day, 52 square kilometers (20 square miles) of Amazon forest are cleared in Brazil. That is 6,400 football fields. Correspondingly, the area of all tropical rainforests worldwide has approximately halved since 1950. Forests no longer occupy 7% of the total land area of the earth like they used to. Today, they account for only 3 to 4%
The Brazilian jungle is worlds away. It's easy to look away. But the rainforests are enormously important for the climate of the whole earth. Preserving the Amazon rainforest is a concern for all of us.
6. Natural and vegan guaranteed! - Products from the rainforest
You may not even be aware of how many rainforest products you use in your everyday life. One in four medicines contains an active ingredient from tropical rainforests. We also like to eat tropical fruits.
While bananas originally come from Southeast Asia, the pineapple comes directly from the Brazilian rainforest. The word pineapple comes from the language of the Brazilian natives Guaraní. Naná means fruit. By the way, similarly to the orchid, the pineapple belongs to the bromeliad family. Meanwhile it is grown everywhere in the tropics and is also very popular here.
We often know Brazil nuts from the Christmas season. They are also called Brazilian chestnut or Brazil nuts. The reason for this is that Brazil nut trees only grow in the Brazilian rainforest. There is no other region where these nuts are found. By the way, in Brazil the castanha-do-pará is named after the state of Pará.
There is another rainforest product that originally comes from Africa, from the south-western highlands of Ethiopia. Coffee beans are now also grown in other tropical regions and Brazil has managed to become number one.
No other country produces and exports so much coffee. Anyone who wants to drink coffee the way Brazilians like it best to try the Pilão brand. It is the market leader and has managed to meet the taste of most Brazilians.
7. No rain forest without rain - The tropical climate
The annual rainfall in the Amazon basin is 15 trillion cubic meters. Somehow the name rainforest must have its justification. The water evaporates, is absorbed by the vegetation and flows off again through the Amazon. In some rivers of the Amazon region, the different water levels between the dry season and the rainy season can correspond to an eight-story building.
The weather forecast for the jungle is pretty much the same every day. In the morning you will see some fog, but later in the day they dissolve. Around noon the rainforest heats up and stores the solar energy. Then the first clouds appear. In the afternoon, the clouds become thicker and thicker and it gets very humid until it starts to rain in the late evening, often with thunderstorms. Towards evening fog fields form again and at night it cools down to about 21°C (70º Fahrenheit).
Theoretically you can visit the jungle all year round. The temperatures are constant all year round at about 25°C (77º Fahrenheit). You should however keep the dry and rainy seasons in mind. The best time to travel to the Amazon is between March and August. It is never 100% dry, but during this time it rains much less. Moreover, these are the sunniest months in the Brazilian rainforest.
8. Amazon river system - the largest river in the world
The Amazon is the most water-rich river in the world. That is a fact. Some also say that it is the longest river in the world. There is no consensus here. Is the Nile or the Amazon longer? In 2007 and 2008 both rivers were surveyed with a new technique and the Amazon was the winner.
No matter whether it is the longest or the second longest river in the world. The Amazon is huge. You can't imagine it as a river in the classical sense, but rather as a gigantic river system. The number of its tributaries is estimated to be around 100,000. Each section of the Amazon River has a different name. As a matter of fact, the source of the Amazon is not in Brazil but rather in Peru.
During the rainy season, the Amazon transforms large areas into water landscapes. This is where 20% of the world's total freshwater flows. The Amazon River carries such enormous masses of earth and sand with it and washes it into the sea which causes the coast of the state of Amapá and that of French Guiana to grow. You can clearly see the enlargement of the land mass in satellite images.
If you want to see this natural spectacle, it is best to do so directly on the water. For example, during an adventurous ship expedition on a motor yacht. Or perhaps on a more luxurious all-inclusive cruise.
There are many possibilities to discover the jungle in Brazil. Which one would you choose for your next holiday in Brazil?