The Great Amazon River

"Everything about the Amazon staggers the imagination. As one approaches Pará from the Atlantic, the banks of the southern, smaller mouth of the river are 150 miles apart. The island of Marajo, one of several in the mouth, is half the size of Ireland. The province of Pará, with a capital city also called Pará and with a population then [1865] of fifteen thousand, is the size of western Europe. The Amazon, with a flood-stage discharge ten times that of the Mississippi, has the greatest flow of any river on earth, accounting for 20% of all the water that runs into the oceans. It is so large that most of the lower river seems not like a river at all but like freshwater sea. For a hundred miles inland the river is indistinguishable from the ocean except for its calmness and its discolored water. There is little visible current; the slope of the lower river is a fifth of an inch per mile. Three hundred and fifty miles up, the Amazon is still forty miles wide. It is four thousand miles long, with a thousand tributaries, some of which are themselves a thousand miles long, and several are twenty miles wide where they meet the main river."

from William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism by Robert D. Richardson