What is the World’s Widest River

by Abby Cessna on January 18, 2010

What is the World's Widest River

In addition to being one of the longest rivers, the Amazon River is the widest river in the world. It is located in South America in the countries of Peru and Brazil, but its many tributaries reach out into other countries including Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Bolivia. It begins on a mountain in Peru and empties out into the sea on the coast of Brazil, measuring around 6,400 kilometers long. Some scientists actually claim that the Amazon River is longer than the Nile River, but the debate is still ongoing due to how difficult it actually is to measure the length of rivers. The river got its name from the tribes of Amazonians, women warriors described in Greek legends. A European explorer, Francisco de Orellana, met a tribe of women and named the river after the Amazons, which the tribe reminded him of.

The river collects about 40% of the entire continent’s water with thousands of tributaries pouring into it. It has the largest drainage basin in the world due to the many streams that pour into it; a drainage basin is the area where rainwater or snow trickles down into a river or stream as well as the tributaries that feed into the larger river or other body of water.

The width of the river depends on the season. During the dry season, the river is only 11 kilometers (almost 7 miles) at wide points in the basin. However, during the rainy season, the Amazon Basin becomes flooded. Then, the river is up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) wide. Despite flooding of the basin, the widest point of the river is actually where it opens up into the ocean. At that point it can reach 325 kilometers (202 miles) in width.

 In addition to being the widest river, the Amazon also produces the most water output. In fact, the amount of water that passes through the Amazon River is a staggering 300,000 cubic meters per second during the rainy season. Twenty percent of the world’s fresh water passes through the Amazon River into the Atlantic Ocean. The massive amount of water contained in the river also means that it is extremely deep. In fact, it is so deep that ocean liners can travel upstream about two-thirds the length of the river. The Amazon River also supports a massive ecosystem of wildlife and plants in the Amazon rainforest and irrigates much of the continent.

Universe Today has articles on the longest river  and Europe’s longest river.

You should also check out the Amazon and the Amazon River.

Astronomy Cast has an episode on Earth you should watch.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_River
http://geography.howstuffworks.com/south-america/the-amazon-river.htm

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