Megadiverse countries have high levels of biodiversity, meaning that they have many different types of plant life and animal life. The most megadiverse country in the world is Brazil due mainly to the presence of the Amazon Rainforest. The Amazon has the most diverse plant and animal life on the planet, with many different life forms not being present anywhere else on earth. Some estimates place the number of different types of plants and animals in the Amazon at over four million!
Behind Brazil is the nearby country of Colombia, which has 300,000 different invertebrates (animals that have a backbone). It has 20% of all of the different types of plants found in the world, along with 2000 different types of fish, 1900 types of birds, and 7000 types of beetles.
Following Colombia is the United States, whose diversity can be attributed mostly to its immense size, which encompasses many different biomes (tundra, desert, forest, et cetera). It has 428 different types of mammals and 784 different types of birds, along with hundreds of reptiles and amphibians. There are also nearly 100,000 different types of insects that have been recognized in the United States.
For more biodiversity, move from the Western Hemisphere to the tip of Africa, where the country of South Africa also has a high level of biodiversity. Scientists know of South Africa having 22,000 different types of plants or nearly 10% of the plant species on earth.
Next are some islands in the Pacific Ocean, including the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. The Philippines are home to an extensive rainforest that is smaller and less diverse than the Amazon but still impressive in its biodiversity. In just the past decade, 16 new species of mammals have been discovered in the Philippines. In terms of percentages, Papua New Guinea comprises less than one percent of the earth’s land, yet it hosts five percent of the world’s different forms of plant and animal life. Its biodiversity is a confluence of the neighboring countries of Indonesia, New Zealand, and Australia.
Other megadiverse countries include Malaysia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Australia, Indonesia, China, Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, India, and Madagascar. While biodiversity allows life on earth to thrive, we need to be aware of how human activity has harmed many types of plants and animal life on the planet. Burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests are causing many species to go extinct.
Brazil's Amazon rainforest, with four million species, contributes to its status as a megadiverse. Colombia, the United States, South Africa, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines are also megadiverse.