When people think of the great rivers of the world, the Amazon River of South America immediately comes to mind. Filled with giant snakes and fish that like the taste of blood and flesh, the Amazon is like no other place in the world. Located near the equator, the Amazon River starts as a small stream in the Andes Mountains within a hundred miles of the Pacific Ocean. From here, it travels along the northern part of the continent. Rain and melting snow increase its size. So do more than a thousand tributaries. The Amazon River’s path takes it through the world’s largest rain forest, a place where many thousands of plants and animals make their home. For several months out of the year, high rains cause the Amazon River to leave its banks and wash into the Amazon basin for millions of square miles. The flooded forests create a unique ecosystem like no other place in the world. The Amazon River creates life, food, and medicines.