The Amazon River is the second longest river (it is just shorter than the Nile River in Egypt) in the world and it has the largest watershed or drainage basin as well as the most tributaries of any river in the world. For reference, a watershed is defined as the area of land that releases its water into a river. This entire area is often referred to as the Amazon Basin. The Amazon River begins with streams in the Andes Mountains in Peru and flows into the Atlantic Ocean about 4,000 miles (6,437 km) away.
The Amazon River and its watershed encompass an area of 2,720,000 square miles (7,050,000 sq km). This area includes the largest tropical rainforest in the world - the Amazon Rainforest. In addition parts of the Amazon Basin also include grassland and savannah landscapes. As a result, this area is some of the least developed and most biodiverse in the world.
Along its length, the Amazon River flows through three countries and its basin includes three more. The following is a list of these six countries that have claims to the Amazon region arranged by their area. For reference, their capitals and populations have also been included. All information was obtained from the CIA World Factbook .
• Area: 3,287,612 square miles (8,514,877 sq km)
• Capital: Brasilia
• Population: 198,739,269 (July 2010 estimate)
• Area: 496,225 square miles (1,285,216 sq km)
• Capital: Lima
• Population: 29,546,963 (July 2010 estimate)
• Area: 439,737 square miles (1,138,914 sq km)
• Capital: Bogota
• Population: 43,677,372 (July 2010 estimate)
• Area: 424,164 square miles (1,098,581 sq km)
• Capital: La Paz
• Population: 9,775,246 (July 2010 estimate)
• Area: 352,144 square miles (912,050 sq km)
• Capital: Caracas
• Population: 26,814,843 (July 2010 estimate)
• Area: 109,483 square miles (283,561 sq km)
• Capital: Quito
• Population: 14,573,101 (July 2010 estimate)
Center for Global Environmental Education: Hamline University. (n.d.). Rivers of Life: Profile - the Amazon. Retrieved from: http://cgee.hamline.edu/rivers/Resources/river_profiles/Amazon.html
Rosenberg, Matt. (14 June 2010). Amazon River - Overview of the Amazon River. Retrieved from: http://geography.about.com/od/specificplacesofinterest/a/amazonriver8.htm
Wikipedia.org. (14 October 2010). Amazon River - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_River