Chapter 8

Human Environment Interactions:

The Tropical and Subtropical Region

Life in the Amazon basin

The river Amazon flows through the tropical region lies very close to the equator, between 100 N and 100 S. So it is referred to as the equatorial region.The Amazon river flows through this region.The place where a river flows into another body of water is called the river’s mouth.Numerous tributeries join the Amazon River to form the Amazon basin.The river basin drains portions of Brazil, parts of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and a small part of Venezuela.

When Spanish explorers discovered the Amazon river, they were attacked by a group of local tribe wearing headgears and grass skirts. These people reminded them of the famous tribes of women warriors known in ancient Roman Empire as the Amazons. Hence the name given Amazon.

Tributaries: These are small rivers that join the main river. The main river along with all its tributaries, the drain an area forms a river basin of the catchment area. The Amazon Basin is the largest river basin in the world.


India Amazon Basin is characterized by hot and wet climate throughout the year as it is present on the equator.Both days and nights are almost equally hot and feels sticky. It rains almost everyday. That too without much warning. The day temperatures are high with very high humidity. At night the temperature goes down, but the humidity remains high.


Thick forest grow due to heavy rains.The forests are so thick that the dense roof created by leaves and branches does not allow the sunlight to reach the ground.The ground remains dark and damp.Only shade tolerant trees may grow hereOrchids,bromeliads grow as plant parasites. The rainforest is rich in fauna. Birds such as toucans, hummingbirds, mascaw with their brilliantly coloured plumage, oversized bills for eating make them different from birds found in India.


People of  Rainforest

People grow most of their food in small areas after clearing some trees in the forest. While manhunt and  fish along the rivers, women take care of the crops.They mainly grow tapioca, pineapple and sweet potato.As hunting and fishing are uncertain, it is the women who keep their families alive by feeding them the vegetables that they grow.They practiceslash and burn” agriculture.The staple food is manioc also known as the cassava that grows under the ground like the potato.They also eat queen ants and eggsacs. Cash crops like coffee, maizeand cocoa are also grown.Rainforests provide a lot of wood for the houses.Some families live in thachedhouses shaped like beehives, while other large apartments, like houses called Maloca, with a steeply , slanting roof. Life of the people of Amazon basin is slowly changing. Amazon Highway made all parts of the rainforest accessible.Aircraft and helicopters are also used for reaching various places.Population was pushed out from the area and forced to settle in new areas where they continue to practice their distinctive way of farming.Developmental activities are leading to the gradual destruction of the biological diverse rainforests.

Slash and burnis the way of cultivating land where farmers clear a piece of land by slashing or cutting down trees and bushes. These are then burnt, which releases the nutrients into the soil. Crops are grown in this cleared field for a few years.After repeatedly using the patch of land, the soil loses its nutrients, so it is abondoned. Then they clear another plot of land to plant.In the mean time, young trees grow in the old field. In this way, soil fertility is restored. People can then return to it and start cultivating it again.