Orinoco River Facts

Orinoco River Facts
The Orinoco River is one of South America's longest rivers flowing 1330 miles through Venezuela and Columbia and finally emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. The Orinoco River drains an area of 340,000 square miles and more than 75% of this land is located in Venezuela, with the rest being in Columbia. Christopher Columbus documented the Orinoco River's mouth on August 1st, 1498 while on his third voyage to the Americas. It would be another 453 years before non-indigenous people explored the Orinoco River's source. The Orinoco River is divided geographically into four stretches including the Upper, Middle, Lower, and Delta Orinoco.
Interesting Orinoco River Facts:
The Orinoco River flows in a giant arc through rainforests, flooded forests, grasslands, and a delta from where it begins in Venezuela's Sierra Parima Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.
The main tributary to the Orinoco River is the Apure River.
The Orinoco River has supported the traditional way of life of the Piaroa people for thousands of years. The women grow food such as vegetables and the men fish.
The Orinoco River is used for transport where it flows through as the thick tropical forests and flooded forest make travel difficult for humans otherwise.
The Orinoco River is home to many different species including the giant anaconda, giant river otters, river dolphins, and the Orinoco crocodile which is critically endangered today.
The Orinoco crocodile is one of the world's longest crocodile species and can reach 20 feet in length.
The Orinoco River is still very much intact but mining and pollution are beginning to threaten its integrity. Ranching and farming have resulted in clearing of forests and dams on the tributaries to the river will disrupt the aquatic life and the water flow of the Orinoco River.
Mining interests in the Orinoco River basin include iron ore, especially at Cerro Bolivar and El Pao. Other minerals of interest in the Orinoco River basin include chrome, bauxite, vanadium, nickel, and manganese.
Steel, aluminum, and paper production and hydro-electric power industries along the Orinoco River are now potential threats to its integrity.
There are more than 1000 species of fish living in the Orinoco River. These species include the piranha, electric eel, and a species of catfish called the Laulao which can reach upwards of 200 pounds.
Many colourful bird species thrive along the Orinoco River including parrots, flamingos and scarlet ibis that make the region their home.
The rainy season runs from April until October or November each year and is considered the winter season while the dry season, considered the summer season, runs from November until March or April. There are only two seasons in the Orinoco River basin, summer and winter.
During the winter season the average depth of the Orinoco River is 165 feet at Ciudad Bolivar and the average water depth during the summer season at Ciudad Bolivar is only 49 feet.
Major cities along the Orinoco River include Ciudad Guayana and Ciudad Bolivar, both of which both have large bridges to cross the river.
The Casiquiare is a natural canal that joins the Orinoco River and the Amazon River.


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