The Amazon Rainforest is the largest wet tropical forest in the world and hosts an extensive ecosystem. Located in South America, with 60% of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil, 13% in Peru, 10% in Colombia, and small percentages in Venezuela, the rainforest boasts a radius of 5,500,000 square kilometers. To put this into perspective, that’s 25 times bigger than Britain.

Because of its size, scale and magnitude, the Amazon Rainforest is the most important ecosystem on our planet. It absorbs over 40% of our global carbon dioxide pollution, transforming this into the oxygen we need to breathe. For this purpose, it’s often titled the “lungs of the world” due to the scale and speed at which the Amazon’s estimated 390 billion trees can photosynthesize.

The Amazon Rainforest is also the home to the world’s largest river by water volume, the Amazon River. Despite being a close second in size, the Amazon hosts the most water after the River Nile in Africa. It pumps around 58 million liters of water into the ocean every second.

While that figure may appear surprising, it’s predicted that the Amazon is subjected to 1,500 mm and 3,000 mm of torrential rain each year. These downpours tend to occur on a seasonal pattern between December and May, with an estimated 88% humidity. Throughout the dry season, the moisture remains intense at 77%.

What is the Weather Like in the Amazon Rainforest?

The Amazon Rainforest is a tropical rainforest located very close to the equator. Therefore, the weather and climate are very hot, humid, and damp. The average temperature of the rainforest is around 27 degrees. There aren’t distinct seasons in the Amazon Rainforest; it is always moist with lots of rain. Despite being very stuffy and humid, the temperature rarely reaches above 34 degrees or below 22 degrees. Also, the rainfall varies in different parts of the Amazon Rainforest, but it can produce as much as 180 inches of water! Over time, global warming and deforestation will likely cause the rainforest to become hotter and change the rain patterns. This will affect the forest, wildlife, plants, water availability, and more.

The rain and humidity make the Amazon Rainforest a perfect environment for growing plants. The rainforest is also home to lots of wildlife! Read on to find out about the animals and plants that can be found in the rainforest.

When was the Amazon Rainforest Created?

The formation of the Amazon Rainforest has been a natural evolution of habitats over centuries. The Amazon Rainforest is believed to be over 55 million years old, with its origins forming as far back as the Ice Age. It is widely believed that, during the Ice Age, the Amazon Rainforest was divided into islands of savannah. Once the Ice Age ended, the Amazon Rainforest reverted and the islands rejoined with swarms of trees.

Humans and the Amazon

The Amazon Rainforest is home to over 20 million people from over eight countries. Over 350 Indigenous communities have developed livelihoods that are suited to the unique environment around them. In addition, they have developed sustainable ways of living in the rainforest, which means its resources will be accessible to future communities.

Human Destruction

The rainforest is a home for people and an incredible ecosystem worth protecting. Unfortunately, however, the Amazon Rainforest is too often seen as a goodie bag: a source of desirable luxury materials. These are harvested by farmers and large businesses, often from the global north. This has resulted in unimaginable habitat loss.

The use and destruction of the Amazon Rainforest for profit have been a global concern for decades. This includes wood, natural oils, land, and fruits. Because the Amazon Rainforest has such rich land, these same large businesses rely on destructive methods of deforestation, such as slashing and burning, to create agricultural opportunities. Trees are cut down to create more land to farm animals for the meat industry and soya to feed those same animals. Other crops are sometimes re-planted, too, using monoculture farming methods. This hurts the people who live there and the ecosystem.

Deforestation creates gaps in the humid canopy of the forest, which in turn dries out the surrounding environment. This leaves areas prone to damaging wildfires that cause mass destruction. In 2019 alone, there were over 40,000 wildfires in the Amazon Rainforest due to agricultural methods and an exceptionally long dry season caused by global warming. Together, these wildfires burned over 2,240,000 acres of forest and sadly killed over 2.3 million animals.

The United Nations proposed Sustainable Development Goals to try and resolve some of these issues and create a blueprint for a more peaceful, sustainable, and prosperous world.

The Amazon’s Different Species

The Amazon Rainforest is home to over 40,000 plant species, around 427 mammal species, 1,300 different types of birds, 378 species of reptiles, over 400 amphibians, and 3,000 fish species. This large number of species results from diverse ecosystems within the rainforest.

Most famously, the list of animals that call the Amazon Rainforest home are:

  • jaguars;
  • sloths;
  • the howler monkey;
  • spider monkeys;
  • giant anteaters;
  • glass frogs;
  • common basilisks;
  • and giant otters.

In terms of insects, over 2.5 million different insects enjoy the humid environment inside the Amazon Rainforest. This includes Clear-Winged Butterflies, the Elephant Beetle, and tarantulas, the infamous giant spider.

Amazon Rainforest Trees

The Amazon rainforest is bursting with wildlife and contains almost 400 billion trees! This huge amount of trees are categorized into 16,000 different species. However, there is not an even split in terms of the types of Amazon rainforest trees, as around half of the rainforest trees are thought to belong to just 227 species. Some of these super dominant species of Amazon rainforest trees include the walking palm tree, the ungurahui tree, and the rubber tree.

Let’s have a look at some of the different types of Amazon rainforest trees:


This type of palm tree is commonly found west of the Amazon rainforest. On this tree, hard fruits grow that have a soft, colorful center. Many animals, including spiders, monkeys, and toucans, love eating this delicious fruit. In terms of appearance, the stem of the spine of this Barrigona palm tree has a large bulge, which is actually what gives it its name as ‘barrigona’ means ‘pot-bellied.’ This tree is also very tall, growing up to 30 meters. The wood from this tree is used by those living in the rainforest to make the floors and walls of their houses.

Euterpe Precatoria

This Amazon rainforest tree is another type of palm tree and is believed to be the most popular tree in the rainforest. A whopping 5.2 billion of these trees are scattered around the Amazon basin. This tree, often called ‘huasaí’ and ‘palmito’ in Peru, and ‘asaí’ in Colombia, grows to around 20 m tall. You can typically find this tree in flooded areas of the Amazon rainforest. The indigenous communities make good use of the fruits of the Euterpe precatoria tree by using its berries to top delicious desserts like ice cream and tapioca.


Another common type of palm tree, the Huicungo, is a single-trunk tree typically found in primary and secondary forests, upland forests, and seasonally flooded forests. These trees grow to just half the height of the Barrigona palm tree at 15 m, making it small compared to other Amazon rainforest trees. Moreover, the Huicungo tree grows lovely fruits and edible leaf buds. The seeds on this tree can also be harvested and used to make shiny, black rings. Alternatively, the soft substance inside the source can make various cosmetic creams. There are believed to be more than 2.4 billion Huicungo trees in the Amazon rainforest.


It is no surprise that the Palla tree is another type of palm tree. While palm trees are extremely common in the Amazon rainforest, they are not the only tree species there, and in some tropical areas, they are pretty unusual.

The Palla palm tree has been used by those living in the rainforest for many years, as it is the perfect material for making thatched roofs. Various methods for creating thatched roofs with these trees vary from region to region. Moreover, the seeds from the Palla tree can be used in cooking to produce a milky, chocolatey substance that is super rich in antioxidants. There are estimated to be around 1.8 billion Palla palm trees in the Amazon basin.

Shiringa or the Rubber Tree

The Shiringa tree, commonly known as the Rubber Tree, is a species of rubberwood tree that is native to the rainforests of the Amazon basin. This tree can be found in Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru, typically in lowland moist forest habitats. This tree gets its name from the creamy, white latex substance it produces, which has been used to make rubber. These trees are super tall, growing up to 40 m. There are approximately 1.9 million trees in the Amazon rainforest.

Walking Palm

The Walking Palm is, you guessed it, another type of palm tree! This tree has a strange appearance, with a tall 20 m trunk supported by long roots measuring around 1.5 m. The long roots of this tree give it an unbelievable look and have sparked a theory that the tree can move through the forest by a few centimeters. This movement, believed to occur as new roots grow towards the sunlight and replace the old ones, gives the tree its name. However, some scientists believe this theory to be false as individual sources may be replaced by the tree’s thorny, grey stems, but they remain in the same place. There are around 2.7 billion of these trees in the Amazon rainforest.

Amazon Rainforest Plants

The rainforest is home to over 40,000 different named plants. Of course, many may not even have been discovered yet! Many plants have great properties — from being important sources of nourishment, providing us with the air we breathe, and even boasting medicinal properties unique in nature. The Amazon is sometimes referred to as ‘nature’s pharmacy’ and the ‘earth’s lungs.’

We mustn’t lose these great plants for our health and the planet.

Here’s a list of some of the most incredible Amazon Rainforest Plants.

  1. Cocoa tree — seeds are used to make chocolate!
  2. Passionflower — beautiful and strange, these look other-worldly.
  3. Mahogany — resilient wood, is used to build furniture.
  4. Heliconia — also known as ‘lobster-claws’ — for obvious reasons!
  5. Rubber trees — you guessed it, this is where rubber comes from.
  6. Bromeliads — a family of colorful, tropical plants.
  7. Banana tree — one of the world’s favorite fruits.
  8. Water lettuce — found floating on the Amazon River itself.
  9. Lupuna — an iconic, huge species of tree.
  10. Walking palm — unusual roots look like stilts, giving the tree its name.

70% of plants with anticancer properties are only found in the Amazon Rainforest!

Here’s a list of some of the plants of the Amazon Rainforest which are used in medicine.

  1. Cordoncillio has a range of traditional uses, including anesthetic!
  2. Lapacho is used in modern medicine to ease pain caused by cancer treatments and fight infection.
  3. The leaves of the Matico plant are used to make tea — easing common illnesses like sore throats and muscle aches.
  4. Brazilian ginseng boosts energy and improves the immune system.
  5. A compound from the Curare plant is used in modern medicine to treat Parkinson’s disease and other muscular disorders.

Fun Facts about the Amazon Rainforest for KS2

Are you teaching your KS2 children facts about the Amazon Rainforest? Here are five fun facts to kick-start your lesson.

  1. The Amazon Rainforest floor is in complete darkness. This is due to the amount and density of the billions of trees within the rainforest.
  2. 10% of our world’s animal species live in the Amazon Rainforest.
  3. The Amazon is hot and humid all year round.
  4. There are over 150 different species of monkeys that live in the Amazon Rainforest
  5. For the Indigenous Amazonian communities, almost every plant found in the Amazon Rainforest holds a medical purpose.
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