In the heart of the Amazon lies a bustling city of over 2 million inhabitants, a major port for ocean vessels in Brazil and a tourist stop – this is Manaus, a progressive hub that lies along the north bank of the Negro River and the Atlantic coast in the Amazon rainforest.
It was founded in 1669 and was named Manaus (which means “mother of the gods”) in the 1830s. It was officially named a city in 1848 and is to date the second largest metropolitan area in Northern Brazil. Manaus rose to economic prominence with natural rubber manufacturing but has declined considerably through the ages. This was replaced with the development of the mineral and agricultural wealth of the surrounding rainforest. As well, there are the industries of brewing, shipbuilding, petroleum refining, and the declaration of Manaus as a duty free zone to promote tourism to the area.
Manaus is home to the great Opera House (Teatro Amazonas), built during the rubber trade boom. Regular performances are still being held in the theatre. Other attractions include the Mercado Municipal, or the Mercado Adolpho Lisboa which is the city’s oldest and main market. Because of its proximity to the Amazon rainforest, Manaus has a large share of parks with forest reserves. Visitors can see the largest urban forest in the world inside the Federal University of Amazonas. There is also the National Park of Jau which is said to be one of the largest national parks in Brazil and in Latin America. Manaus is also home to the endangered species Pied Tamarin as well as beautiful beaches like the Ponta Negra Beach in downtown Manaus.