Rainforest facts reveal these majestic forests are home to some of the most unique and unusual animals and plants. They’re full of breathtaking scenery and stunning landscapes.
In addition to being tropical sanctuaries and the most biologically diverse regions in the world, rainforests keep the planet healthy and provide everyone with water, oxygen, and food. They really are a true masterpiece of nature.
Top 10 Facts About the Rainforest
- Rainforests cover 2.5% of the Earth’s total surface area.
- Tropical rainforests are home to half of the world’s plants and animals.
- The New Guinea rainforest has the most orchid species in the world.
- Over 450 reptile species live in the Amazon rainforest.
- Temperate rainforests make up 25% of all forests in the world.
- There are only seven temperate rainforests in the world.
- Tropical rainforests have 40–100 tree species per one hectare of land.
- Over 30 million people live in the Amazon rainforest, rainforest statistics show.
- A quarter of drugs used in Western medicine come from rainforest plants.
- Rainforests might lose 5–10% of their species every 10 years.
Now that we have your attention let’s dive into the most important facts on rainforests and their inhabitants.
General Rainforest Statistics and Facts
The oldest living ecosystems on Earth, rainforests have been on this planet for at least 70 million years.
Even though most of them are located on the American continent, they help stabilize the entire planet’s climate. They also provide a home to millions of animal, insect, and plant species.
1. Rainforests cover 2.5% of the Earth’s total surface area.
It is difficult to estimate rainforest coverage as it depends on what science actually defines as a forest. Still, researchers present us with some fun facts about the rainforest.
They believe that around 8% of the land surface on Earth is made up of rainforests. That is, 2.5% of its total surface area.
In other words, tropical rainforests are believed to span across 5–6.8 million square miles.
2. Facts about rainforest regions reveal that rainforests typically have 4 layers.
- The emergent layer that has 200-feet-tall trees
- The upper canopy, which is a deep sea of vegetation around 20 feet thick and home to most animal species in the forest
- The understory, comprising of shorter plants, like palms and philodendrons
- The forest floor, to which decaying matter from the upper layers falls and feeds the trees
Another interesting fact about the rainforest is that the forest floor is also home to animals. Its inhabitants include rhinoceroses, elephants, bears, and burrowing animals that live under the soil.
3. The canopy is so dense that it can take raindrops 10 minutes to fall to the ground.
(Fascinate, Conserve Energy Future)
Moreover, the tree canopy in rainforests is so thick that it allows just 5% of sunlight to reach the understory. In comparison, only 2% of the sun reaches the forest floor.
4. There are two types of rainforests — tropical and temperate, rainforest facts show.
(NASA Earth Observatory)
Besides tropical rainforests, which are the most popular, there are also temperate rainforests.
Tropical rainforests are closer to the equator and have warm and moist climates.
But, what is the climate of a temperate rainforest? Temperate rainforests are located further to the north and closer to coastal areas. They’re generally colder than tropical rainforests.
5. Temperatures in tropical rainforests move between 70°–85°F.
(Britannica, National Geographic)
Temperatures in tropical rainforests remain high even at night — around 68°F. Tropical rainforest facts reveal that high temperatures lead to higher humidity levels (ranging from 77–88%).
This, in turn, allows various species to thrive and make tropical rainforests so biologically diverse. Tropical rainforests get annual precipitation of 80 to 400 inches.
6. Temperate rainforests make up 25% of all forests in the world.
(Atlas & Boots, National Geographic)
The temperate rainforest is less sunny and gets less rainfall than its cousin — the tropical rainforest. Rainfall in these regions is around 60–200 inches per year.
They are also cooler. Temperate rainforest climate experiences temperatures between 50°–70°F. And even though they’re not as biologically diverse, they’re still home to many unique animals and plants.
7. There are only seven temperate rainforests in the world.
(Treehugger, National Geographic, USA Today)
The Pacific Temperate Rainforest is the biggest of these. It stretches for 23,300 square miles across North America, encompassing the Tongass National Forest and the Great Bear Rainforest.
According to Great Bear rainforest facts, the latter called the “Amazon of the North,” is another hotbed of biological diversity. And, it’s home to one of the rarest bear species in the world — the white spirit bear.
8. Tropical rainforests have 40–100 tree species per one hectare of land.
Tropical rainforests are biodiversity record breakers. The Amazon alone is home to more than 80,000 plant species, as the Amazon rainforest statistics reveal.
Scientists have discovered that more than half of them play a vital role in sustaining the local water cycle. They also regulate the global climate.
9. Rainforests can also exist in drier regions.
According to rainforest facts, these ecosystems are not only found in areas with high levels of annual rainfall.
There are also “dry rainforests” located in northeastern Australia. The annual rainfall there is much lower. Furthermore, most of the trees, or 75%, are deciduous as opposed to the evergreen trees in tropical and temperate rainforests.
Other types of rainforests include monsoon and mangrove forests. Monsoon forests have lush and dense vegetation. And mangrove forests can be found along estuaries on tropical coasts.
10. The Amazon is the biggest rainforest in the world.
How big is the Amazon rainforest? Covering around 2.6 million square miles, the Amazon rainforest is home to hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples.
It also provides a home for thousands of plant and animal species and more than 2.5 million insect species.
In fact, 10% of all species on Earth live in the Amazon rainforest. Although it stretches across nine South American countries, around 60% of the Amazon is in Brazil.
11. Over 30 million people live in the Amazon rainforest, rainforest statistics show.
(WWF, The Independent)
Indigenous people make up around 9%, or 2.7 million, of the Amazon population. They are divided into 350 different ethnic groups, with 77 tribes in Brazil living in almost complete isolation from the rest of the world.
Some tribes protested against deforestation, proving how much these practices disrupt their habitat and lifestyle.
12. The Congo Basin is the second-largest rainforest, facts about the tropical rainforest show.
(National Geographic, Mongabay)
The Congo Basin is home to 700 species of river fish, forest elephants, and great apes.
This African rainforest is also home to the Mbuti people. The Mbuti are rarely taller than five feet. Even though their population was larger in the past, today, there is fewer than one person per every 1.5 square miles.
Interesting Facts About the Rainforest Animals and Plants
We mentioned that rainforests are home to millions of magnificent plants and animals. From scary spiders the size of a puppy to cute rainforest monkeys. Here are the most striking facts about them.
13. Tropical rainforests are home to half of the world’s plants and animals.
Rainforests are incredibly impressive. Just four square miles of forest contain 1,500 flowering plants, 750 species of trees, 400 species of birds, and 150 butterfly species.
14. Ever heard of a rainforest monkey? Facts show they’re divided into two groups.
These include Old World monkeys found in the rainforests of Africa and Asia and New World monkeys that live in Central and South America. Old World monkeys are bigger and more closely related to humans than their American counterparts.
15. Only 104,700 Bornean orangutans remain in the world.
(WWF, USA TODAY)
As the rainforest animal facts reveal, the Bornean orangutan (an endangered species) lives in Borneo’s Heart, one of the world’s oldest rainforests.
Even though it covers only 1% of the Earth’s terrain, this rainforest houses 6% of the world’s animal and plant species.
16. The Sumatran tiger is on the verge of extinction, scary rainforest facts reveal.
Indonesian rainforests are also home to the Sumatran tiger, the only large Indonesian tigers left.
The Balinese and Javan tigers have gone extinct. With a population of less than 500 in the wild, the Sumatran tiger is also in danger of disappearing forever.
17. All hope is not lost, though, as a plant lost for 151 years reappeared in Borneo’s rainforest in 2018.
An alien-looking plant that doesn’t need sunlight to survive reappeared in Malaysia a century after it was first documented.
Being one of the rarest rainforest plants, facts reveal that the 2018 discovery of the Thismia neptunis, or Fairy Lantern, is the species’ first-ever recorded finding.
This is just another example of the strange and beautiful plants and animals that live hidden in rainforests.
18. Plant diversity in Indonesian rainforests is second only to Amazonia.
Speaking of plants in Indonesia, there are more than 25,000 flowering plant species, 40 of which only grow in this region. Borneo alone boasts 2,000 species of orchids, facts about orchids in the rainforest reveal.
19. The New Guinea rainforest has the most orchid species in the world.
(USA TODAY, EMTV)
13% of all the orchid species in the world are found in this rainforest, making it the ultimate destination for orchid lovers.
As of 2018, there are 3,000 known and registered species of orchids, while scientists believe 2,000–3,000 species are waiting to be discovered.
20. The African rainforests are home to many endangered species of animals and plants.
Tropical rainforest plants facts reveal how precious they are. The facts show there are over 10,000 species of these in the Congo Basin, 30% of which are not found anywhere else in the world.
The Congo is an incredible place full of fascinating and endangered creatures like the Okapi, mountain gorillas (over 1,000 left in the wild).
It’s also home to chimpanzees, and forest elephants, in addition to 400 other species of mammals, 1,000 species of birds, and 700 species of fish.
21. When it comes to rare rainforest animals, it’s a fact that the biggest nocturnal primate in the world can only be found in Madagascar.
Found in the rainforest of Madagascar, the aye-aye is one of the strangest creatures on the planet. This long-fingered lemur is recognizable for its huge eyes and bat-like ears.
The aye-aye uses echolocation to find prey. It has rodent-like incisors, both characteristics not found in other primates.
22. The Daintree Rainforest houses 395 rare or endangered species.
The oldest rainforest in the world, the Daintree is also home to more than 3,000 species of plants and 12,000 types of insects, Daintree rainforest facts show.
Some animals, such as the large, endangered bird, the cassowary, and the white-lipped tree frog, also live in the Daintree.
23. The Daintree Rainforest is home to the idiot fruit — one of the world’s rarest and oldest plants.
The idiot fruit tree is known by its scientific name Idiospermum australiense or the Green Dinosaur due to its lineage.
Another interesting fact is that it has similar characteristics to 88 million-year-old fossils.
It also has one of the biggest seeds of all plants found in the Land Down Under, as the Australian rainforest facts reveal. They can weigh up to 225 grams and are very toxic to the animals that eat them.
24. The Valdivian rainforest in Chile is home to the smallest wildcat in the Americas.
(Animal Diversity Web, WWF)
The Kodkod (Leopardus guigna), a feline the size of a domestic cat, is currently listed as vulnerable by the IUCN as its population is decreasing.
Besides the enigmatic wildcat, the Valdivian also houses South America’s biggest woodpecker. The pudu can also be found there. It is one of the smallest deer in the world, as the rainforest facts for 2021 revealed.
Other endemic species in the Valdivian temperate rainforest, the only one of its kind in South America, include the monkey puzzle tree, which has been around since the time of the dinosaurs.
25. The world’s biggest spider lives deep in the South African rainforests.
(Live Science, ThoughtCo)
The Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi) weighs around 6.2oz and is big as a puppy. As the name suggests, it’s big enough to eat birds, and it sometimes gets eaten by humans.
Amazon Rainforest Facts on Animals and Plants
Also known as the “Lungs of the Earth,” the Amazon rainforest is the most biodiverse rainforest on the planet.
26. There are over 4,000 amphibian species globally, and 427 live in the Amazon rainforest.
An interesting fact about the Amazon rainforest reveals that one of its most famous residents is the poison dart frog.
These tiny, brightly colored frogs excrete poison from their skin. They are so dangerous that 2.5 milliliters of their venom are enough to kill an adult human.
27. Over 450 reptile species live in the Amazon rainforest.
(Amazon Aid, Mongabay)
Besides many lizards, facts about the Amazon rainforest show that this ecosystem is home to many turtle and tortoise species. Some of these species are very old. For instance, the South American river turtle has been around for 158 million years.
28. There are 2.5 million insect species in the Amazon rainforest alone.
(Active Wild, Tropical Rainforest Facts)
Insects make up 90% of all living things on the planet, and a quarter of them are found in rainforests. When it comes to rainforest insects, facts suggest thousands of species in the Amazon rainforest haven’t even been identified yet.
29. Rainforests are the perfect habitat for snakes.
Thus, it’s not surprising that rainforests are home to many of the most famous snakes, such as the green anaconda. It’s the biggest snake in the world, and it can weigh up to 550 pounds.
According to rainforest snakes facts, other snakes that inhabit rainforests include:
- The king cobra — the biggest venomous snake in the world
- The Mamba species — small but very venomous snakes
- The coastal taipan — found in Australia, it has the third most potent snake venom on the planet
30. A staggering 50% of all bird species live in the Amazon Basin and Indonesia, as facts about the Amazon rainforest show.
(National Geographic, Rainforest Facts)
The rainforests’ birds come in all shapes and sizes, from the colorful parrots to the tiny hummingbirds. Rainforest birds range from the classic long-beaked toucan and pink flamingo to the unique cassowary and rhinoceros hornbill.
31. Besides birds and amphibians, other Amazon rainforest animals also include the biggest rodent on Earth.
Looking like an oversized guinea pig, the capybara is a semi-aquatic animal that can weigh up to 140 pounds.
Called “Master of the Grasses,” adult capybaras eat six to eight pounds of grass every day. As well as their own feces to digest the cellulose in the grass better.
32. The Amazon rainforest animals’ facts reveal that the rainforest is home to the biggest number of freshwater fish species on the planet.
(Nature, WWF, National Geographic)
With over 1,100 tributaries, no wonder the Amazon is home to over 3,000 freshwater fish species. The biggest one being the 15-feet-long arapaima gigas.
33. Only male dolphins in the Amazon River turn pink.
Some cool facts about the rainforest show that one of the more famous animals of the Amazon rainforest is the pink river dolphin, or boto.
It’s recognizable for its smile, long, skinny beak, and distinctive pink color, which results from scar tissue from fights.
The pinker the male, the more attractive it is to females, especially during mating season.
34. Rainforest animals facts show that the piranha also inhabits the Amazon Basin.
They’re usually portrayed as vicious species that eat their prey in a matter of seconds. But piranhas aren’t as aggressive as shown in movies.
The truth is, piranhas are omnivores. It means that they eat plants and fruit too. They only consume the flesh of the dead or dying animals that have fallen in the water. Some piranhas are vegetarians, and they can be quite peaceful.
Facts About the Rainforest
There are hundreds of reasons we should protect the rainforests, but here are the most important ones.
35. Rainforests help mitigate the effects of climate change.
(AP News, National Geographic)
Global annual CO2 emissions are around 40 billion tons, and rainforests help absorb many harmful emissions.
The Amazon rainforest alone takes in 2 billion tons of CO2 or 5% of CO2 emissions across the world.
Rainforests also absorb solar radiation and reduce the effect of greenhouse gas emissions, thus regulating the temperature and weather cycles of the planet, the rainforest facts show.
36. Rainforests maintain the Earth’s water cycle.
Rainforests get a lot of rain. But they also make rain through a process known as evapotranspiration. This allows them to absorb heat, cool the planet, and create more air humidity, generating more rainfall.
The Amazon, for instance, creates almost 80% of its own rainfall.
37. Rainforests are a source of fresh water.
The Amazon Basin stores one-fifth of the world’s freshwater, as facts about the Amazon rainforest reveal.
Furthermore, the Congo Basin supplies around 75 million people in Africa with water and food. While rainforests in Malaysia meet almost 90% of the nation’s freshwater requirements.
38. A quarter of drugs used in Western medicine come from rainforest plants.
(South American Vacations, Live Science)
On top of that, 70% of the 2,000 tropical plants that the US National Cancer Institute has identified as helpful can be found in rainforests, tropical and temperate rainforest facts show.
Despite the many promises rainforest plants hold, only 1% of plant species have been analyzed for their medical effects.
39. 80% of the food we eat every day comes from tropical rainforests.
(The Rainforest Site, The Rainforest Alliance)
We have rainforests to thank for chocolate, bananas, tomatoes, rice, potatoes, coffee, sugar, and spices like cinnamon and vanilla (to name a few).
Other products that come from rainforests include forest fibers used in rugs, mattresses, and ropes. As well as oils and resins found in fuel, paint, and rubber products, as fun facts about rainforest reveal.
40. 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood.
Most of the people who live near rainforests, or 1.2 billion of them, rely on the forest for their basic needs and use it to earn money and food.
Rainforest Destruction Facts
Sadly, people are clearing the rainforests for factory farming, grazing, palm tree plantations, agriculture, etc. This has a negative effect not only on the rainforest inhabitants but to the planet, as well.
41. Rainforests might lose 5–10% of their species every 10 years.
(National Geographic, Rainforest Action Network)
Biologists bring some worrying facts about rainforest animals. They estimate that every day, 137 animal and plant species from rainforests are threatened with extinction.
42. Deforestation is one of the main threats to rainforests.
Rainforest statistics on deforestation reveal that logging, mining, ranching, and farming are the main reasons behind the destruction of the world’s rainforests.
43. 17% of the Amazon forest has been destroyed in the last 50 years.
Most of this loss is caused by the so-called slash-and-burn agriculture — converting forests to cattle ranches.
44. A staggering 12 million hectares of tree cover was lost in tropical forests in 2018.
How many rainforests are left? Around 3.6 million hectares of primary rainforest were lost in 2018, roughly the size of Belgium. This is the fourth most significant loss since researchers started keeping track in 2001.
The primary rainforest refers to old-growth or trees that can be between 100–1000 years old. They can store more carbon and are home to many animal species.
45. Over 2.3 million wild animals died in the 2019 fires in Bolivia, according to tropical rainforest animal facts.
(Global News, The Verge)
In addition to 3.8 million hectares lost, the number of animals that have been affected by wildfires and slash-and-burn agriculture is staggering. Rainforest loss hasn’t been this high in the Amazon since 2010.
46. Brazil managed to reduce deforestation rates by 70% between 2007 and 2015.
Other South American countries have not been that successful. In Colombia, the rainforest loss increased by 9% due to deforestation.
Moreover, Bolivia and Peru also lost chunks of the rainforest due to agriculture, illegal coca production, and illegal gold mining.
47. According to the Congo rainforest facts, Africa also experienced rainforest loss in 2018.
The highest rise in primary forest loss was recorded in:
- Ghana (60%)
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo (38%)
- Côte d’Ivoire (26%)
In the same year, Madagascar lost 2% of its rainforest, which is more than any other tropical country. The rainforest loss in Africa is primarily attributed to agriculture and mining.
48. How much oxygen does the Amazon forest produce?
It has often been claimed that the Amazon is Earth’s lungs, producing 20% of the oxygen on the planet. But recent studies have shown that this is not true.
In fact, oceans produce most of the oxygen we breathe. Still, the Amazon rainforest plays a significant role in reducing pollution by absorbing much of the carbon emissions.
49. How much rainforest is destroyed every year?
We are losing tree cover at an unprecedented rate. One and one-half acres of rainforest are lost every second. The Amazon alone is disappearing at 20,000 square miles a year.
50. How many rainforests are there in the world?
There are ten major rainforests in the world:
- The Amazon rainforest
- The Congo rainforest
- Australian realm — includes New Guinea and northeastern Australia
- Sundaland — includes Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and Peninsular Malaysia
- Indo-Burma — includes Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and parts of India and China
- Mesoamerica — extends from southern Mexico to southern Panama
- Wallacea — includes Indonesia and the Sulawesi and Maluku islands
- Guinean Forests of West Africa — cover the land from Liberia and Sierra Leone to the Nigeria-Cameroon border
- Atlantic Forest — stretches over Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay
- The Chocó-Darien rainforest — stretches from southern Panama along the Pacific Coast of South America and goes through Colombia and Ecuador
Interesting facts about the tropical rainforest reveal there are also some smaller rainforests. These include:
- The Eastern Himalayas
- East Melanesian Islands
- The Philippines
- Indian Ocean islands, including Madagascar
- Eastern Afromontane
- The Western Ghats and Sri Lanka
- The Caribbean, and
51. How long until the Amazon rainforest is gone?
We’re decades away from losing the entire Amazon rainforest.
Over the last 50 years, humans have destroyed 17%—20% of the Amazon rainforest. This may not sound like much, but it has already caused some serious consequences. Many animal and plant species have already gone extinct.
If we continue destroying the rainforest at this rate, we’ll lose it very soon.
52. What is the smallest rainforest?
The smallest rainforest in the world is the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It used to be a jungle, but it’s been reduced to a barely 25-acre patch because of the city’s developments.
53. How much of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed by 2020?
The 2020 deforestation rates have hit the highest point since 2008. Between August 2019 and July 2020, 4,281 sq miles of the rainforest have been destroyed. That’s a 9.5% increase from 2019.
54. Is the Amazon still burning in 2020?
Sadly, the Amazon rainforest was still burning at the end of 2020, as the Rainforest Partnership reports. The 2019 fires were vastly covered by the media. However, even though the situation in 2020 was much worse, there wasn’t much media coverage.
There were 28,892 recorded fires at the start of October 2020, and most of them are still burning.
Rainforests may be the oldest ecosystems in the world. However, new exciting discoveries and rainforest facts emerge repeatedly. They show us there’s still more to learn and explore in these miraculous regions.
Time will tell what more striking findings and fascinating new species will be unearthed in rainforests and how they will benefit the planet and the living things that inhabit it.
- Active Wild
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- NASA Earth Observatory
- National Geographic
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