Manaus is the capital of State of Amazonas in Brazil, population over 2.200.000 inhabitants, it is one of the 27 federative units of Brazil. It is located in the North Region, being the largest state of the country in territorial extension, with an area of 1.559 146,876 km ² (601990.0mi²), constituting the ninth largest subdivision in the world, being greater than the areas of France, Spain, Sweden and Greece added. It is situated on the left side of the black river, distant 18km (11 miles) downstream towards the amazing “Meeting of Waters” where the dark waters of the Rio Negro meets the brown waters of the Amazon River without mixing, which offers visitors the most impressive and magnificient attraction of all Amazon region.
Manaus is situated in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest at 3 degrees south of the Equator line, 1.600 km (1.000 miles) to the Atlantic Ocean. It lies 40 meters above the see level. The city originated due to the construction of the Fort Saint Joseph of Rio Negro in 1669 by the Portuguese captain Francisco Motta Falcão in order to prevent english invaders, as wel as french and dutch. Later, the fort grew up becaming a village called “Village Saint Joseph of Barra do Rio Negro” or Barra do Rio Negro (barra reffering to the sandbar at the mouth of the Negro River).
The town Barra do Rio Negro succeeded the town of Barcelos in 1809 as capital of the general captaincy of Rio Negro and in 1850 became the capital of Amazonas province (later state). Its name was then changed to Manáos (due the most famous Indian tribe of the Amazon at that time), the word Manaus means the “The Mother of the Gods”. Since 1939 it has been spelled Manaus.
From 1890 to 1920 a regional economic boom based on the production of natural rubber from the tree Hevea brasiliensis brought great prosperity to the city. Manaus became one of the richest cities of the world due the latex of the rubber trees. Manaus also became one of the first cities in Brazil to have electricity, telephone and university.
Majestic buildings were built, materials were shipped directly from europe to manaus, it was the era of the famous “Rubber Barons” (wealthy europeans who worked with the export of rubber), simptuous palaces were built, opulent houses were erected all over the city. It was the time of the electric trams imported from liverpool to circulate through the center and outskirts of the city.
In 1902 a British corporation began improvements to the port facilities, including a customs house, a stone quay, storehouses, and floating wharves to allow for the annual rise and fall (up to 40 feet [12 metres]) of the river. Most of the iron, glass, and other building materials were specially ordered from Britain, France, Greece and elsewhere in Europe.
At that time Manaus was known as Paris of the Tropics because of its beauty and splendor; a city erected right in the middle of the largest rainforest on the planet offering a very high standard of living to the Europeans who were here. It was the time of the great operas where French, English and Italian companies brought to Manaus what was the best in Europe. Great tenors, great orchestras, theater companies and ballets consistently performed in the greatest symbol of our city, the famous Opera House. The city offered electricity to the population with powerful generators brought in from England, electric lamps illuminating the city all night long. In fact, Manaus was a small piece of Europe inscribed in the immensity of the Amazon rainforest.
The famous Opera House built in 1896, the Fish Market built in 1882, the Palace of Justice, the Government Palace, as well as several churches, squares, bridges, sewage service, water service are important facts that mark the splendor of our goden age. Manaus lived the apogee and glory of its greater economy which they called “La Belle Epoque”
Manaus declined in the 1920s, when the price of natural rubber collapsed on the world market. Although its economy strengthened somewhat during World War II, Manaus did not prosper significantly until after it was declared a duty-free zone in 1967. Since that time, the free trade zone has been the largest responsible for the city’s economy with more than 500 industries worldwide installed in the city offering thousands and thousands of direct and indirect jobs to the population of Manaus and to the local people of small towns in the Amazon, making Manaus the largest electric-electronic pole in the country and one of the largest in the world.
By Carlos Damasceno