Tropical rainforests cover nearly 7% of the Earth’s land surface1. There are four major biogeographical regions or ecozones in which rainforests are located: the Neotropical, the Afrotropical, the Australasian, and the Indomalayan.
Neotropical: This is the largest area of rainforest in the world1. It includes the rainforests of Mexico, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. It is this region that holds the greatest number of standing rainforests. The largest area of rainforest in this region is the Amazon rainforest, also known as the Amazon River Basin. The other two large rainforest regions include the Andes Mountains and the 30 miles of rainforest along the Atlantic coast of Brazil. Altogether, 1,678 million acres (679 million ha) remain in the Neotropical rainforests, about 58% of the world’s total rainforest1.
Afrotropical: The second largest expanse of rainforest is located in Africa. Most of Africa’s rainforests exist along the Congo River Basin, the world’s second largest river basin. This river basin contains the world’s second largest contiguous tropical rainforest, the Ituri Rainforest, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.1. There are a few other rainforest along the coast of Western Africa, as well as the island on Madagascar. The African rainforests comprise about 20% of the world’s total rainforests.1
Australasian: Although Australia is known as the driest inhabited continent on the planet, the Australasian rainforests have expanded significantly in the last 18,000 years and remain nearly undivided. The largest portion of the Australasian rainforest is located in Papau New Guinea. It is often known as the last great expanse of rainforest. The Australian area of rainforest is known as the “Wet Tropics” and is located in the north-eastern part of Queensland. The Wallace Line, the boundary that separates the ecozones of Asia and Australia, divides these rainforests from the Indomalayan rainforests.
Indomalayan: Some studies show that the rainforests in this region are some of the oldest in the world. These rainforests may have been in existence for over 100 million years. However, all of the remaining Asian rainforests are located in parts of Indonesia, the Malay Peninsula, Laos and Cambodia.
1Newman, Arnold. Tropical Rainforest: Our Most Valuable and Endangered Habitat with a Blueprint for Its Survival into the Third Millennium. New York, NY: Checkmark, 2002. Print