Manaus, or Paris of the Jungle, on the banks of the Rio Negro in north-western Brazil, is the capital of the vast state of Amazonas. The city is a key gateway for the surrounding Amazon Rainforest. Just east of the city, the dark Rio Negro converges with the brown, muddy waters of another Amazon tributary, the Solimões River. The convergence results in a striking visual phenomenon called the Meeting of the Waters.
This rugged, bustling metropolis does have a few rewarding sights, including the leafy City Zoo that has as many animals out of cages as in them. The unique Museu do Seringal Vila Paraíso is located in a former rubber-baron’s estate and features a grand historic townhouse and a leafy trail that reveals how rubber trees are tapped.
A stop at Praia da Lua, Manaus’ best beach, is worthwhile. Alternatively, watching riverboats journey through the myriad of tributaries, or spotting local wildlife, are equally enjoyable.
The Amazon River basin is home to the largest rainforest on Earth. The basin covers 40 percent of South America and includes parts of eight countries – Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname.
The Amazon is home to more species of plants and animals than any other terrestrial ecosystem on the planet – perhaps 30 percent of the world’s species are found here. This includes caiman crocodiles, pink river dolphins, spider monkeys, hyacinth and scarlet macaws, blue fronted amazon parrots and sloths.
The Amazon rubber boom was an important part of the economic and social history of Brazil and Amazonian regions. Centred in the Amazon basin, the boom resulted in a large expansion of European colonisation in the area, attracting immigrant workers, generating wealth, and causing cultural and social transformations.