Billie Silvey
An eclectic website about Women, Christianity, History, Culture
and the Arts--and anything else that comes to mind.
State of Wonder
The Amazon River
October 2011
It's as big as a continent, and it covers a large swathe of South
America as it flows from the rich soil of the
Andes in the west
to the Atlantic Ocean in the east.

The second longest river in the world, it carries more water
than any other river.  It pours more than 55 million gallons
every second into the
Atlantic at Belem, Brazil, where it is
hundreds of miles wide and dilutes the ocean's saltiness for
100 miles offshore.
Seven miles wide 1,000 miles inland, it is so deep that ocean
liners can travel it up to 2,300 miles inland.

It's one of the world's most important river systems, fed by
1,100 tributaries, 17 over a thousand miles long.  It supplies a
fifth of the world's fresh water and has sustained the rich and
diverse Amazon rainforest for millions of years.  

The Amazon Basin contains the largest variety of living plant
and animal species in the world.  Described as the
"Lungs of
our Planet," it produces more than 20 per cent of the world's
supply of oxygen.   In recent decades, scientific research has
established a clear link between the
health of the Amazon and
the health of each individual living on the planet.

The river was named for the female warriors who attacked
the Spanish explorer
Francisco Orellana.  He associated them
with the
Amazons of ancient Greek mythology.

If the
Amazon River basin were a country, it would be the
ninth largest in the world.  It covers over a billion acres of land
in Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

The Amazon is home to an amazing diversity and abundance
life, including nearly 40,000 plant species and the world's
richest diversity of birds, freshwater fish and butterflies.  It
houses more species of plants and animals than any other
ecosystem on the planet, some 30 per cent of the world's

In addition to supporting life on earth now, it holds the
promise of future discoveries in
medicine that can impact our
world for generations to come.  But for all its wealth and
fecundity, its life-giving properties and promise, over half of it
has been destroyed in my own lifetime.

This issue of the website includes articles on
biodiversity, Ann
State of Wonder, a novel set on and around the
Amazon, and the
deforestation that threatens both the
Amazon and ourselves.

I hope you'll consider the information offered here, enjoy  
Patchett's descriptions of the beauty and teeming life of the
Amazon, and write me at with your
thoughts and reactions.