Port of Manaus
Review and History

The Port of Manaus is the capital of the state of Amazonas in Brazil. Lying on the banks of the Negro River, it’s 1450 kilometers inland in the heart of the Amazon rain forest. The terraced city is home to a network of bridged channels that divide it into several compartments. The Port of Manaus is home to beautiful zoological and botanical gardens, and a jungle park lies on its borders. It is home to the National Research Institute of Amazonia and the Geographic and Historical Institute of Amazonas. Rivaling Belem as the largest urban center in the Amazon Basin, the Port of Manaus contains almost half of the state’s population of 1.6 million (in 2005).

Port History

Europeans first settled the Port of Manaus by building a small fort in 1669. A mission and small village called Villa de Barra grew up around the fort. Called Barcelos in 1809, it became the capital of the Rio Negro region and the capital of the Amazonas province in 1850 when its name was changed to Manaos after a local Indian river tribe. Since 1939, the city has been called Manaus.

The natural rubber industry brought an economic boom to the region from the late 1800s to about 1920. The industry blessed the Port of Manaus with glorious architecture with buildings, homes, cathedrals, and a breathtaking opera house. The port’s commerce began in that period with the need to ship rubber products downriver to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Port of Manaus was one of Brazil’s first cities to have electricity. In the early 1900s, an English company began to improve port facilities, adding a customs house, a stone quay, storage, and floating wharves. Many buildings of that period were ordered from Europe. When the rubber market collapsed in the 1920s, the Port of Manaus declined and did not recover until 1967 when it was made a duty-free zone.

In the late 1970s, the area saw devastating deforestation as the Brazilian government and private interests exploited mineral and agricultural resources. Brazil’s government built a fishing terminal in the Port of Manaus.

Today, the Port of Manaus is an important commercial center for ocean-going vessels traveling the Amazon. In fact, it is the main transport hub for the entire upper Amazon Basin. It imports beef from the hinterlands and exports hides and leather. Important industries in the Port of Manaus include manufacturing of soap, chemicals, electronics equipment as well as shipbuilding, brewing, and petroleum refining.

Several mobile phone companies have manufacturing plants in the Port of Manaus, and other major electronics manufacturers have plants there. Major exports include Brazil nuts, chemicals, petroleum, electrical equipment, and forest products, and eco-tourism is an increasingly important source of income for the city. The recent discovery of petroleum in the area brings great promise of further wealth and commerce to the Port of Manaus.

With so much industry and commerce, the Port of Manaus has become a sophisticated cosmopolitan center. Located next to the Amazon rain forest, it also attracts crowds of tourists who find a variety of land and boat trips into the jungle. Wildlife is plentiful, even within the city, and it is home to the Pied Tamarin, one of Brazil’s most endangered primates. Tour boats take visitors to see the point where the black waters of the Rio Negro meet the Solimoes River’s brown waters, flowing together without mixing for nine kilometers. Tourists can find many hotels in the jungle where they can enjoy nature in comfort.

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