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Manaus, Brazil for Tourists  July 13, 2017 – 02:59 pm

Rain over the Rio Negro, outside of ManausRain over the Rio Negro, outside of Manaus (Photo: Gewitter über dem Rio Negro, Manaus - Amazonas image by guentermanaus from )

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Ground zero for ecotourism into the massive Amazon rainforest and exploration up and down the mighty Amazon river, Manaus, Brazil is the largest city in the entire Amazon Basin. For tourists, who usually fly directly into the city of Manaus via its international airport, Manaus is usually little more than a stopover point for journeys deeper into the surrounding natural splendor. But for those who do take the time to check the city out, many rewarding experiences can be had.


Manaus was founded in the mid-1600s by the Portuguese as a fort to keep the Dutch from coming too far up the Amazon river and interfering with their efforts to exploit the land. In the 19th century, when the rubber boom hit northern Brazil, Manaus became one of the most extravagant cities in the world due to its newfound wealth; the elaborate Opera House, which dominates downtown, is testimony to that wealth. Once rubber began to be grown in other places in the world, Manaus became economically depressed and has still not recovered even though tourism and the duty-free exemption it enjoys contribute greatly to its economy.


The grandiose Opera House in the center of town is open to visitors by half-hour guided tour and features a marble lobby and inlaid tropical wood ceilings. The Mercado Adolpho Lisboa is a Parisian style iron and glass market that hosts hundreds of vendors selling fish, vegetables and local herbal potions. Manaus zoo houses some of the most exotic and endangered animals of the Amazon region, including the black jaguar and the harpy eagle. The Rio Negro Palace is the former governor's palace that has been transformed into a cultural center that houses several museums, including the People of the Forest Exhibit, which recreates live in an indigenous village, and the Amazon Image and Sound Library, which has an extensive collection of photos, videos and audio recordings of the forest itself.


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