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Amazon forest in Columbia
The Amazon Basin is the largest river basin in the world. Covering over 7.2 square kilometers (2.8 million square miles), an area nearly as large as Australia, it includes territory in Bolivia. Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela and the Guyanas (30 percent) as well as Brazil (70 percent). The Amazon Basin and its tributaries drains enough water to fill 12 Mississippi Rivers and has 25,450 kilometers (15,814 miles) of navigable river routes and millions of miles of “garapés”, small passages through swamps and woods that can be penetrated only by canoe. Not surprisingly, waterways are the main mains access routes with in the Amazon; and boats are the principal means of transportation. [Sources: mostly National Geographic articles]

The Amazon River and it tributaries make up 20 percent of the world's supply of fresh water. Of the twenty largest rivers in the world, ten are in the Amazon basin. When the Amazon finally reaches the sea near Belem, it's mouth is 320 kilometers (200 miles) wide. In places that seasonally flood, the rivers often change their course and alter the landscape. It is not unusual for fields and towns to disappear over night and large parcels of land to be flooded for months. Oxbow lakes formed by cut-off chunks of river are common here. Occurring from time to time near the mouth of the Amazon are spectacular tidal boars called “poronoca” ("the big roar") that can reach heights of four meters (12 feet) and travel against the current of the Amazon. Maybe you have seen videos of surfers riding this boar for several kilometers (See Below).

Geologically, the Amazon Basin is a large sedimentary basin encompassing 620,000 square kilometers (240,000 square miles) located near the middle and lower course of the Amazon River. South the Guiana Shield and north of the Central Brazilian Shield, it developed on a rift, called the Sub-Amazonal Rift, that originated about 550 million years ago during the Cambrian. This is a long time ago. All presnt-day continents were united in the single Pangaea continent in the Permian period 250 million years ago. The Sub-Amazonal Rift emerged during the continental collision of the West African Craton. The Amazon Basin evolved through tectonic activity including subduction and distortion of parts of the Andes Mountain Range. [Source: Wikipedia]

Environmentally, Stephen Eisenhammer of Reuters wrote: The Amazon exerts power over the carbon cycle like no other terrestrial ecosystem on Earth. The tree loss from an extremely dry year in 2005, for example, released an additional quantity of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere equivalent to the annual emissions of Europe and Japan combined, according to a 2009 study published in Science magazine. [Source: Stephen Eisenhammer, Reuters, October 23, 2021]

Amazon Forest

The Amazon Forest is the world's largest rainforest. Covering an area roughly the size of the size of United States, excluding Alaska, It accounts for over 50 percent of the remaining tropical forests in the world and stretches across eight South American countries — Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Suriname and Guyana — and the territory of French Guiana. Brazil holds the latest portion — about 62 percent.

It have estimated that the Amazon rainforest is 10 million years old and composed of around 390 billion trees. Brazil gets its name from one of those trees, the Paubrasilia, now known as Pernambuco or brazilwood. Portuguese explorers prized the tree for its red dyes but now it listed as an endangered species. [Source: Kim Heacox, The Guardian, October 7, 2021]

The Amazon forest covers almost 40 percent of Brazil. The Brazilian Amazon region also embraces natural fields and savannahs (“cerrados”) on northern and southern boundaries. Together they account for fourteen percent of the Brazilian Amazon Basin’s territory. Another three percent is either permanently or seasonably flooded and the remaining nine percent are areas of human occupation and secondary vegetal and forest covering.

The Amazon rainforest is also known as the Amazon jungle and or Amazonia. Categorized as a moist broadleaf tropical rainforest, it covers 5.5 million square kilometers (2.1 square miles), which is about three quarters of the Amazon basin. The region includes territory belonging to nine nations and 3,344 formally acknowledged indigenous territories. The majority of the forest (60 percent) is in Brazil, followed by Peru with 13 percent, Colombia with 10 percent, and lesser amounts in Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela. Four nations have "Amazonas" as the name of one of their first-level administrative regions, and France uses the name "Guiana Amazonian Park" for its rainforest protected area [Source: b17].

The Amazon is most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world, with an estimated 390 billion individual trees divided into 16,000 species. The Amazon Forest is directly responsible for the production of 50 percent of the world's replenishable supply of oxygen and influences local and regional weather patterns (in some deforested areas rainfall has markedly dropped off as forests have disappeared). The Amazon ecosystem is nourished by an endless radiation-generated cycle in which ocean evaporation falls as rain and returns to the sea or is sucked up by vegetation and transpired into the atmosphere.

Amazon River

Amazon River is far away the greatest river in the world. The amount of water (28 billion gallons a minute) that pours out of its 320-kilometer-wide mouth exceeds the combined flow of the world's next eight largest rivers. The force of this water is enough to generate waves 12 feet high and carry muddy undiluted fresh water 163 kilometers (100 miles) into the Atlantic Ocean. One day’s discharge of 17 trillion liters 4.5 trillion gallons is enough to supply the water needs for all the households in the United States for five months.

The Amazon River is 6,577 kilometers (4,087 miles) in length (3,615 kilometers, 2,246 miles are in Brazilian territory). If it were pulled taught it would cover a distance equivalent to distance between London and Calcutta. The Nile is longer than the Amazon by about 160 kilometers (100 miles) but carries only two percent of the water of the Amazon.

The Amazon carries one fifth of the world's running water. The river is so broad that sometimes the shores are not visible and bends are barely noticeable. Over most of its length, the Amazon is slow and coffee brown in color. Seasonal tides called “pooroca” send water shooting up the river at 32 kilometers (20 miles) an hour.

Cutting across the northern part of Brazil and navigable by ocean-going freighters as far as Iquitos, Peru, the Amazon River is fed by more than 1,000 tributaries including seven rivers over a 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) in length. The drainage area encompasses about a third of South America, and one reason the river contains so much water is that area around the river receives an average of 200 centimeters (80 inches) of rain a year.

The Amazon River is so big that it remains one of the cleanest major rivers in the world despite overfishing, gold mining and population pressures. It has also yet to be dammed or extensively dredged.

Route of the Amazon River

The source of the Amazon is a spring the Peruvian Andes, which ironically is only about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the Pacific Ocean. Joining this spring are thousands of streams as the proto-river tumbles down the cloud-forest-cloaked eastern side of the Andes, the great South American mountain range. These streams, impassable to everyone except for half-mad kayakers, form the Ucayali and Marañon rivers, the two main headwaters of the mighty river. They join together to form the Amazon River just up stream from Iquitos. Peru.

Iquitos has an elevation of less than 61 meters (200 feet). From there the Amazon meanders slowly through lowland rain forest for nearly 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles), dropping only about three centimeters every kilometer (two inches every mile).. During the rainy season the Amazon overflows its banks and lowlands dozens of kilometers from the river's dry season banks become flooded. The river is usually highest between February and April. During the dry season some of this water collects in lakes. The alluvial soils found in the seasonally-flooded “varzeas” regions, which cover two percent of the Amazon basin’s forested land, are much more fertile and more biologically diverse than typical lowland forest regions.

The rivers that flow into the Amazon are different colors. "White" muddy brown rivers usually originate in the Andes where they pick up large amounts of eroded soil that runs off during the wet season. Acidic "black" rivers, which originate in lowland areas where there is little erosion, contain water that is surprising clear. The black color comes from chemicals called tannins that come from dissolved organic material. Other tributaries are "yellow" and "green" in color.

One river pilot told National Geographic, "River color is a road sign down here. The forest looks like miles of broccoli but no two rivers are the same.” These differences account for the differing animal and plant life in white water várzeas and the “igapó” where black water rivers dominate.

Where the river is sluggish, silt is deposited and huge sandbars and channels are formed that make certain parts of the Amazon down stream from Manaus difficult to navigate. About 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from the Atlantic, where tides start to affect the Amazon, even more sediment is deposited, creating huge islands. The largest island, Marajó, is about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. A true delta doesn't form at the mouth of the Amazon because there is simply too much water.

Amazon Climate, Floods and Self-Generated Rain

Amazon climate is hot, humid and rainy. High temperatures average in the mid 30̊s C (90̊s F) and rainfall averages between 200 and 300 centimeters (80 and 120 inches). The weather is often extremely hot, and oppressively humid. It is hard to move without breaking into a sweat and sleeping is the damp, sweltering heat is no easy task. The Friaje is a cold wind that blows up from the Antarctic, sometimes reaching the Amazon, that can drop the temperature from 27̊ to 16̊C (80̊ to 60̊F) in an hour.

Scientists estimate that half of the rainfall that falls on the Amazon comes from the Atlantic ocean. The other half is generated is moisture radiated back into the air by the tropical rainforests. Stephen Eisenhammer of Reuters wrote: “Rainforests recycle vast quantities of water by returning rainfall to the sky through soil evaporation and plant transpiration, by which water absorbed in the roots is released via a plant's leaves. In the Amazon, moisture that comes off the Atlantic Ocean is transported for thousands of miles across the South American continent, falling as rain and rising again as vapor as many as seven times until it hits the mountain wall of the Andes. On hot days, after a downpour, the forest can look like it's steaming. [Source: Stephen Eisenhammer, Reuters, October 23, 2021]

On a larger scale, throughout the tropic, hot tropical air rises along the equatorial belts and spreads towards the poles, as cold polar air sinks and moves towards the Equator. The earth's rotation deflects this north-south movement, creating trade winds that meet in the intertropical convergence zone. The east-to-west trade traveling trade winds transport dust from deserts in Africa, enriching thin rain forest soil on the other side of the Atlantic.

During the rainy season — when there is rain practically every day from November to April in much of the Amazon basin — the rivers swell to four or five times their normal size, and much of the forests becomes flooded. The rain usually falls in torrential afternoon downpours. During the floods caimans, snakes and mosquito breeding areas are brought right to people's backyards. The flooding the Amazon basin lasts from February to May.

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Amazon Ecosystem

Amazon Ecosystem contains the largest single reserve of biological organisms. Studies in western Amazonia have revealed more than 500 species of bird in just a few square kilometers of forest. Naturalists have found 505 types of trees in a half-acre plot of land near the city of Manaus. In contrast there are only 50 types of trees in all of France.

By some estimates the Amazon contains a quarter to half of the world's species. No one really knows how many species there are in Amazon forest, but some scientists estimate their may be 5 million species living there (mostly insects). That is 15 to 30 percent of all the species in the world. Among the wildlife found in the Amazon are 1,800 species of birds (11 percent of all bird species in the world, including hyacinth macaws, toucans and brilliant orange cock-of-the-rocks), 60 types of bat, and hundreds of species of butterfly. The 300 kinds of reptile and amphibian include anacondas, caimans, and large river turtles, as well as smaller species of lizards and snakes.

Among the 250 varieties of mammals species are jaguars, armadillos, sloths, honey bears, tapirs, peccaries, and monkeys. Of the 51 monkey species in the New World, more than a dozen are specific to the Amazonian forest, and six of the eleven species of deer in South America live there. There are more than a 100 different species of rodents, including the capybara, the worlds' largest, weighing up to 66 kilograms (145 pounds).

Over 2,000 species of fish are found in the Amazon basin, and some scientist believe a 1000 kinds of Amazon fish have yet to be discovered. Popular eating fish include tambaqui, pirarucu, tucunaré, and jaraqui. The pirarucu, one of the largest freshwater fish in the world, can reach in lengths of two meters (6.5 feet) and weigh 125 kilograms (275 pounds). There also electric and meat-eating piranhas, although the ferocity of the latter has been greatly exaggerated. Locals who fish and swim in supposed "piranha infested" waters are much more concerned about stepping on a stingray.

The Amazonian river dolphin, or boto is found throughout the Amazon and Orinoco river systems. A second whale species, the tucuxi, or grey dolphin, is also found parts of the Amazon basin. The boto has a long tube-like snout, and it can reach lengths of 2.6 meters (8.5 feet). Manatees, caimans (similar to crocodiles) and Brazilian alligators are also found in some parts of the Amazon.

Most of Amazona is covered by lowland tropical rain forest, which includes tree species such as mahogany, cedar and Brazil nuts as well as plants that produce drugs to treat headaches, relive glaucoma and relax muscles during surgery. Aquatic plant life on the Amazon is especially exuberant. The best-known plants are the "Victoria Reégia" water lilies, with seven foot leaves that are strong enough to support a Middle School student.

Brazilian Amazon

The Brazilian Amazon makes up about 75 percent of the Amazon forest, roughly covering 5.4 square kilometers (2.1 million square miles). It is particularly rich in minerals and energy resources, which include an estimated 2.9 billion tons of bauxite, 1.2 billion tons of copper, 17.7 billion tons of iron ore (world's largest deposit), and 100,000 megawatts of hydroelectric potential (45 percent of Brazil's total). It is not known how much oil or gold there is or how many mahogany trees there are, but it assumed that there is a lot.

With help from the World Bank, Brazilian engineers drew up plans for several huge dam projects in the 1970s and 80s, but several of these plans were scuttled because of the vast amounts of forest the reservoirs behind the dams would have submerged.

Manaus and Belém are he main gateways to the region. Some people divide the Brazilian Amazon into three regions. The first section, between Belem and Manus, is a civilized frontier with large population centers. The section between Manaus and the Columbian border is frontier where people have struggled for existence; and the area on the Columbia which is an outlaw region of drug smugglers and corrupt police.

People in the Amazon

More than 30 million people of 350 different ethnic groups live in the Amazon, which embraces nine different countries and territories and 3,344 formally acknowledged indigenous territories. Indigenous peoples make up 9 percent of the total population with 60 of the groups remaining largely isolated. [Source: Wikipedia]

The Brazilian Amazon is inhabited by around 28 million people (roughly 13 percent of Brazil's population). This up from 16.5 million people (roughly 11 percent of Brazil's population) in the 1990s. Many of the people at that time were settlers or descendants of settlers who arrived in waves, that occurred in conjunction with the completion of roads, after World II, the 1970s and the 1980s. Many of these people live in river settlements pervaded by the sleepy desperation of people struggling to get by in a harsh environment where persistence and patience are the key to survival.

The first Europeans didn’t arrive in large numbers until the 19th century's rubber boom, a period of a thirty years before synthetic rubber was invented when the Amazon region was the world's largest produce of natural rubber. Even today its cities house reminders of that era of great wealth and luxury, when Europe's greatest entertainers and architectures brought high culture to the jungle.

The Brazilian Amazon’s 200,000 indigenous people, representing 65 percent of Brazil's aboriginal population, live in areas scattered around the Amazon basin that have been specifically reserved for them. When the first Europeans arrived it was estimated that there were 5 million indigenous people in the Amazon basin. Most of them died from introduced Old World diseases like measles, tuberculosis and small pox.

In 1990, a total of 328,000 square miles — 16.4 percent of Amazonia, roughly the size of Texas and Oklahoma together — was demarcated for Indian communities in the Amazonia alone. In November 1991 a 36,000-square mile homeland — about the size of Indiana — was set aside for the Ianomamis in northern Brazil, and yet more land may be given to other indigenous groups in the future.


In the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Amazons were a band of fearless warriors described as "maidens fearless in battle" and "women the peers of men." They were lead by a queen who wore a belt to symbolize her power and lived on the north side of Black Sea. No men were allowed to live in their kingdom. The Amazons consorted with men only once a year during a festival. Afterwards the men that were used were turned into eunuchs, enslaved or killed. Only female offspring were kept, boys were disposed of.

The Amazons fought with spears, shields, bows and arrows. They supposedly cut off one of their breasts so they could carry a shield. The word Amazon is sometimes erroneously said to have been derived from the Greek for "without one breast." It more likely means "those who are not breast-fed."

New World Amazons and Creatures

Owen Jarus wrote in Live Science, “Although details about them vary, the Amazons were depicted as beautiful and bloodthirsty women, with strong matriarchal ties. They heralded from what is now modern day Turkey. When called upon, the men played their part in reproduction, or they served as slaves. Male babies were often killed or sent back to their fathers, and girls were raised by their mothers to tend to crops, hunt and become the warriors they were famed for being.” [Source: Owen Jarus, Live Science, October 12, 2015]

Early Amazon Explorers and How the Amazons Lent Their Name to a River

The first European man to set eyes on the Amazon was Spanish explorer Vicente Pinzón, a captain on Christopher Columbus' ship the “Niña”. He discovered it while doing a survey of the South American coast in 1500.

The first man to travel the entire length of the Amazon was Francisco de Orellana, who made his journey in the 1540s. Along the way he was attacked by women warriors — which he believed were the "Amazons" from Greek mythology — hence the name of the river

Some Indians reportedly called the river Amazunua (big wave). Brazilian Indian have legends of women warriors that possessed magic flutes and allowed only a few men to enter their realm. Ancient stone carvings with females are offered as further evidence these women existed. [Source: W. Jesco Puttkamer, National Geographic, January 1979]

Orellana’s expedition consisted of about 60 men. Searching for food after their expedition ran out of provisions, they sailed down the Napo River in 1542. They reached the Amazon and explored it for six months. Oreallan led his party safely into the Atlantic." [Source: "Spain in the Americas" map, National Geographic]

Father Gaspar de Carvajal, a Dinican and a member or Orellana's party, wrote in 1541: "We ourselves saw these women, who were there fighting in front of all the Indian men as women captains. These [women] fought so courageously that the Indian men did not dare turn their backs, and anyone who did turn his back they killed with clubs right there before us...these women are very white and tall, and have hair very long and braids and wound about the head, and they are very robust and go about naked, but with their privy parts covered, with their bow and arrows in their hands, doing as much fighting as ten Indian men. And indeed there was one woman among them who shot an arrow a span that our brigantines looked like porcupines. [Source: "Don't Know Much About Geography" by Kenneth Davis, William Morrow & Co.]

El Dorado

The dream of many of Spanish conquistadors and early explorers of the Amazon region in the 16th century was to find El Dorado, the name of a man not a place. El Dorado means "the gilded man."

According to Indian legend a king of one of the Chibcha Indian tribes of northwest South America was periodically anointed with resin and then dipped in a lake in which so many gold offerings were made, the king emerged a golden man. Pure gold powder was carried on a raft to the center of a lake where offerings of gold and emeralds thrown into the water.

The El Dorado legend was based on a Chibcha India ritual in which their king was dusted with gold and rowed to the middle of the Lake Guatavita by attendants who were not allowed to look at him. The king was dipped in the lake and the gold was rinsed off and offerings of gold and emeralds were offered to the god of the lake.

Gold castings discovered later in Columbia seemed to portray this ceremony, which many believe was conducted on Lake Guatavita near Bogatá. A historian in Columbia said, "the Spaniards sought gold and spices, but when they saw the gold ornaments they forgot about the spices."

In the early 20th century Guatavita was drained by a British company. Although some gold artifacts were found at the bottom they weren't nearly enough to qualify as a lost a city of gold. The Indians living near Bogota before the Spanish arrived were poor and the gold they possessed was obtained from other tribes from trades of salt and emeralds.

The myth of the gilded man was an entirely Indian invention," author Stephen Minta wrote, "but the struggle to turn it into reality was an obsession of the Europeans alone." When the Spaniards captured Indians they sometimes burned them alive or tore them apart with dogs in an attempt to get them to reveal the location of El Dorado. To stay alive the Indians continued to keep the myth alive.

Aguirre, the Wrath of the Amazon

Lope de Aguirre was a one-eyed conquistador immortalized in the bizarre 1972 Werner Herzog movie “Aguirre Wrath of God” and played by Klaus Kinski. The psychopathic Basque left Peru in 1560 and traversed th Andes in search of El Dorado. After descending from the Andes highlands in present day Ecuador, he floated down the Napo river to the Amazon, and finally to the to the Atlantic Ocean on a one-and-a-half-year, 4,500-kilometers (2,800 mile) journey.

Christopher Buckley wrote in the Washington Post: "If a contest were held, to decide who was the baddest dude in history, Lope de Aguirre is a cinch to make the semifinals. In the words of one contemporary chronicler, he was the "most evil and wicked man that was ever born on earth." Aguirre himself once said: "God reserved heaven for those who wished to serve and the earth for those who knew how to act." There are several Aguirres in historical records of the mid 16th century: a steward of a Spanish count, a carpenter in Tenerife, shipwreck victim off Havana. [Source: Christopher Buckley, Washington Post, July 3,1994]

One historian wrote that Aguirre would sometimes say "for certain that his soul could not be saved; and that, even, while he was alive, he was sure he would burn in hell. And since the raven could be no blacker than its wings, that he needs commit acts of cruelty and wickedness by which the name Aguirre would ring throughout the earth, even to the ninth heaven."

When Aguirre set of his journey he was about 50 years old, "misshapen...lowly and unnoticed, the very dregs of the Old World, with apparently no future in the New." His back was horrible scarred from 200 lashes of the whip. He originally asked the magistrate who convicted him if he could be hanged instead and "even the Indians felt sorry for him." He not only recovered but soon afterwards got his revenge by plunging a dagger into the magistrate's right temple.

Aguirre joined the El Dorado expedition of one Pedro de Ursua, a handsome gentleman-knight, who was accompanied by his girlfriend Dona Ines de Atienza. Not long into the expedition Pedro de Ursea was butchered "Ceaesar-like," by Aguirre and some of his companions. Afterwards he declared himself Lope de Aguirre, "the Wrath of God, Prince of Freedom and of the Kingdom of Tiera Frime and the provinces of Chile, Lord of all South America, from the Isthmus of Panama to the Strait of Magellan.” According to Stephen Minta, who wrote a book about Aguirre, some historians have taken this speech as the "first declaration of an independent America."

"And so the fun began in earnest," wrote Buckley in the Washington Post. "Aguirre carried on like Macbeth on benzedrine. His sadistic henchman, a Portuguese shoemaker named LLamoso — in the chronicler's exuberantly florid language 'the most cruel, most fiendish traitor men have ever see, the minister of Satan' — nailed one poor man to a tree with a needle and “then” hanged him. Next to go was Doa Inez's new boyfriend, followed by Dona Inez herself, 'in such a barbarous manner, ' said an eyewitness, "that after death, even the most hardened men in camp were broken-hearted at the sight of the mangled victim."

"Aguirre had people garroted more often than you probably floss. It took him nine miserable months to reach the sea. They then turned north. By the time he finished terrorizing and exterminating the formerly peaceful settlement of Margarita off the Venezuelan coast, "Aguirre had killed thirty-nine of the people who had come with him from Peru." Finally cornered by Crown authorities on the Venezuelan mainland, Aguirre stabbed his own daughter Elvira to death rather than himself. As he memorably put it, "let her become a mattress for the unworthy.'' His own harquebuses shot him to spare him the indignity of surrender (and doubtless a very nasty execution). 'They say,' Minta relates, 'that after the first shot he sighed and said 'That was nothing'; and after the second, 'That will do,' and fell to the floor."

Book:“Aguirre” by Stephen Minta, Henry Holt, 1994

Later Amazon Explorers

Charles Waterton (1782-1865), an eccentric English naturalist, made a reputation for himself in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil and present-day Guyana. He discovered that the poison used by Indian for their blowguns came from rainbow-colored frogs and let vampire bats suck on his toe. In the best selling account of his adventures, he boasted how he captured an anaconda by wrapping his suspenders around the beast's mouth and subdued a crocodile by flipping it over on its back. Back in Europe he became famous his daring feats. He once climbed to the top of St. Peter's in Rome and then climbed it again after he realized he left his glove at the top. He also enjoyed creating new creatures from the parts of animals he preserved. In 1829 Waterton got married at four o'clock in the morning to a 17-year-old "Amazon jungle princess" who was 30 years younger than him. With no immunity to European diseases she died a year after the wedding and Waterton never remarried.

In 1907 the Nambicaras — an Amazon tribe — received worldwide attention when it attacked an exploring party led Col. Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon, the founder of the service that was to become FUNAI. A long Namicuara arrow hit Rondon but the leather belt he was wearing deflected it. As of the late 1970's the Nambicuras, although for the most part peaceful, still made raids on road builders, loggers, ranchers and farmers exploiting Amazonia. [Source: W. Jesco Puttkamer, National Geographic, January 1979]

Teddy Roosevelt and his escort Col. Cândido Maria-no da Silva Rondon explored eastern Brazil in 1913-1914. The state of Rondônia now bears the colonel's name and river formerly called the "River of Doubt" was given Roosevelt's name. They saw no Indians on their expedition, although the settlers, rubber tappers, gunslingers and prospectors that followed them did. After he was U.S. president Roosevelt steamed up the Paraná-Paraguay River and rode muleback across the Mato Grosso plateau. He went jaguar hunting with spears with Senhor João da Costa Marques and his son on a 128,000 acre cattle ranch in São João. The robust Roosevelt lost his health while paddling down the River of Doubt and died five years later at age 61. [Source: Loren McIntyre, National Geographic, November 1977]

The explorers penetrating deep into the Brazilian jungle were so few and far between that their stories are remembered today. Aleixo García, a shipwrecked Spaniard, set off into the jungle in 1520 looking for the source of the Inca's gold. British Army Col. Percy H. Fawsett set forth in 1925 to search for a lost city known as "Z" but he was never seen again. A British explorer claimed he found evidence in 1927 that Fawcett was killed by Xingu tribesman. In 1950 Orlando Villas Boas found a skeleton thought to be Fawcett's but later turned out not to be him. There were even rumors of a "White God of the Xingu."

How Amazon Became the Name of an Online Retailing Company

According to Entrepreneur: When Jeff Bezos first started his virtual venture, he wanted to call the company Cadabra, as in abracadabra. He phoned his Seattle lawyer to try out the name, but the attorney misheard Bezos and replied, "Cadaver! Why would you want to call your company that?" Bezos quickly reconsidered and adopted the name” [Source: Entrepreneur magazine biography of Jeff Bezos, October 10, 2008]

Shana Lebowitz wrote in Business Insider: “It was the mid-90s when Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, started exploring other possibilities. They registered the domain names,, and They also registered the domain name and kept it (if you type that into your browser today, you'll be redirected to Then Bezos started paging through the "A" section of the dictionary. At the time, website listings were alphabetized, so he wanted a word that started with A. When he landed on the word "Amazon," the name of the largest river on the planet, he decided that was the perfect name for what would become earth's largest bookstore. [Source: Shana Lebowitz, Business Insider, May. 7, 2018]

Brad Stone, author of the 2013 bestseller, "The Everything Store," wrote Bezos "walked into the garage" — Amazon's makeshift office at the time — "and informed his colleagues of the company's new name. He gave the impression that he didn't care to hear anyone's opinion on it." The URL for Amazon was registered on November, 1, 1994

Image Source: Mongabay ; Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: “The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior” by David Attenborough (Princeton University Press, 1997); National Geographic articles. Also the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Natural History magazine, Discover magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated April 2022

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