The spatial and temporal pattern of annual rainfall and the strength of the dry season within the Amazon region are poorly known. Existing rainfall maps are based on the data from full-scale, long-term meteorological stations, operated by national organizations linked to the World Meteorological Organisation, such as INMET in Brazil. Stations with 30 or more years of uninterrupted and reliable recordings are very few, considering the size of the region, and most of them are located along the major rivers. It has been suggested that rainfall conditions away from these rivers are substantially different. An analysis has been made of the records of a network of simple pluviometric sites in the Brazilian part of the region as maintained by the National Agency for Electric Energy (ANEEL) since 1970. The latter data sets were used to draw more detailed maps on annual rainfall, and on the strength of the dry season in particular; average number of consecutive months with less than 100 mm, 50 mm, and 10 mm, respectively. Also, some data were obtained on the spatial expression of El Niño events within the region. Sub-regional differences are large, and it is argued that they are important for the success or failure of agricultural settlements; for the hazard of large-scale fire damage of the still existing primary forest vegetation; for the functioning of this land cover as stock and sink of CO2, and for the likelihood that secondary forests on abandoned agricultural lands will have less biomass. The effects of past El Niño rainfall anomalies on the biodiversity of the natural savannahs within the forest region are discussed.