Amazon forest fires 20190823
This TV grab shows wildfire near Robore, Santa Cruz region, eastern Bolivia on August 21, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

It’s common knowledge that the Amazon is the world’s largest and most bio-diverse rainforest. But it continues to hold a lot of secrets that may surprise you.

Click start to play today’s Crossword, where “Amazon” is the answer to one of the clues.

As mysterious as it is mindboggling, the great rainforest remains one of the most studied ecosystems in the world. Here are a few facts that make it simply amazing:

1. It’s incredibly massive and full of diverse fauna

It spans nine Latin American countries, at a size of 6.5 million square kilometres. In fact, if the Amazon were a country, it would be the ninth largest in the world. With its rich rainforest habitat, scientific estimates suggest the Amazon is home to at least 40,000 plant species, 3,000 different types of fish, 1,300 bird species, 430 kinds of mammals, and an impressive 2.5 million different kinds of insects.

2. Humans live there

Its human population is quite significant, with some 21 million people calling the Amazon home. This figure includes an estimated 50 remote tribes who have not made contact with modern civilisation.

3. Lungs of the Earth? Not really

An oft-quoted phrase is that the Amazon is the “lungs of the Earth”. While the rainforest does pump out 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen each day, its decomposing plant matter also puts out the same amount of carbon dioxide, balancing out its oxygen output. The majority of oxygen we breathe actually comes from microorganisms living in the oceans.

4. It’s disappearing

The rainforest is vanishing at a rate of 65,430 square feet per second. An average of 137 species become extinct each day, according to US-based nonprofit Rainforest Action Network. Deforestation in the Amazon alone accounts for 30 per cent of global carbon emission. If things continue as they are, there won’t be any Amazon rainforest left in 40 years.

5. A lot of food and medicine originates there

Over 80 per cent of the world’s food varieties originate in the Amazon rainforest, including coffee! And more than 25 per cent of modern pharmaceuticals contain ingredients from the Amazon, but only one per cent of its plant species have been tested for medicinal properties. It’s why many scientists think the cure for cancer could be found in the rainforest.

What do you think of the Amazon? Play today’s Crossword and tell us at