Purus River and Basin (South America)

Purus River and Basin (South America)

Tue, 07/19/2022 - 17:58

The Purus River, which rises in Peru, is a tributary of the Amazon River. The river flows through the Amazon Rainforest until it merges with the Solimões-Amazon River upstream from Manaus, Brazil. The river, which is highly meandering, has huge floodplains and is flanked by numerous lakes near its shores.

Purus River

The Purus River, which rises in several headwaters in Peru, is a tributary of the Amazon River. The river flows through the Amazon Rainforest until it merges with the Amazon upstream from Manaus, Brazil. Much of its 3,211-km (1,995-mile) course is navigable.

The river’s headwaters arise from the Ucayali Basin at an elevation of 520 meters above sea level. The river has two main tributaries, Rio Curiuja and Rio Cujar, which both rise in the Purus Province of Peru. From the point of confluence, the river meanders northeastwards to Brazil, then defines the Peru-Brazil border in the Brazilian state of Acre.

The Purus receives the Santa Rosa River and continues slowly meandering through the Amazon Rainforest, flowing through a great depression separating the Ucayali and Madeira Rivers. It crosses into Amazonas state, Brazil, and flows past the towns of Pauini, Labrea and Canutama.

After entering Amazonas state, the river meanders sluggishly northward, eastward and northeastward until it joins the stretch of the Amazon upstream from Manaus, known as the Solimões River.

Along its course, the river either passes by or courses through a number of protected areas in Brazil:

  • Santa Rosa do Purus National Forest
  • Arapixi Extractive Reserve
  • Purus National Forest
  • Médio Purus Extractive Reserve
  • Canutama Extractive Reserve
  • Piagaçu-Purus Sustainable Development Reserve

Purus Basin

The Purus Basin, located in the southwestern Amazon depression, is shared by Brazil and Peru and is one of the most important watersheds of the Solimões-Amazon River.

The Purus River is the basin’s most outstanding hydrological feature and drains approximately 365,000 sq km (140,000 sq mi). Approximately 90% of the drainage basin lies in the states of Acre and Amazonas in Brazil.

The river, which is highly meandering, has huge floodplains and is flanked by numerous lakes near its shores. Wetlands cover approximately 40,000 sq km (15,000 sq mi) of the drainage basin’s total area.

Biology

The river and basin have a rich biodiversity. The Purus red howler (Alouatta puruensis) is a species of howler monkey that is found in the forested areas along the river bank. A large variety of bird species visit and nest in the area, including egrets, blue herons, green parrots, and macaws. Reptiles like the Boa constrictors and water lizards are also common in the basin.

Map of the Amazon basin with the Purus River highlighted

Map of the Amazon basin with the Purus River highlighted