The Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest


More than 20 percent of the world's oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest. More than half of the world's estimated 10 million species of plants, animals, and insects live in the tropical rainforests.


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The Amazonian Rainforest covers over a billion acres, encompassing areas in Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, and the Eastern Andean region of Ecuador and Peru. If Amazonia were a country, it would be the ninth-largest in the world.

The Amazon Rainforest has been described as the "Lungs of our Planet" because it provides the essential environmental world service of continuously recycling carbon dioxide into oxygen. More than 20 percent of the world's oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest.

More than half of the world's estimated 10 million species of plants, animals, and insects live in the tropical rainforests. One-fifth of the world's freshwater is in the Amazon Basin.

One hectare (2.47 acres) may contain over 750 types of trees and 1500 species of higher plants.

At least 80% of the developed world's diet originated in the tropical rainforest. Its bountiful gifts to the world include fruits like avocados, coconuts, figs, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, bananas, guavas, pineapples, mangos, and tomatoes; vegetables including corn, potatoes, rice, winter squash, and yams; spices like black pepper, cayenne, chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, sugar cane, turmeric, coffee and vanilla and nuts including Brazil nuts and cashews.

At least 3000 fruits are found in the rainforests; of these only 200 are now in use in the Western World. The Indians of the rainforest use over 2,000.

Rainforest plants are rich in secondary metabolites, particularly alkaloids. Biochemists believe alkaloids protect plants from disease and insect attacks. Many alkaloids from higher plants have proven to be of medicinal value and benefit.


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