SLICES OF LIFE IN THE HEART OF AMAZONIA
LIFE IN AMAZONIA MOVES TO A DIFFERENT BEAT
DON KITTELSON SHARES THE PALMS, PLACES, AND PEOPLE OF THE AMAZON BASIN
- 1 THE AMAZON
- 2 Manaus the City of the Forest on the Negro River
- 3 Paricatuba
- 4 MY PLACES
- 5 SLIDESHOWS
Just What is The Amazon?
The Amazon Basin is the largest river system in the world covering an area larger than the continental USA and 40 percent of South America, an area of aproximately 6,915,000 square kilometers (2,670,000 sq mi). The only countries in South America that do not make up a part of the Amazon Basin are; Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile. All of the other countries have portions of the Amazon Basin in their territories. It gathers its waters from 5 degrees north latitude to 20 degrees south latitude. Its most remote sources are found on the inter-Andean plateau, just a short distance from the Pacific Ocean. The area covered by the water of the Amazon River and its tributaries more than triples over the course of a year. In an average dry season 110,000 square kilometers (42,000 sq mi) of land are water-covered, while in the wet season the flooded area of the Amazon Basin rises to 350,000 square kilometers (135,000 sq mi) .The quantity of water released by the Amazon to the Atlantic Ocean is enormous: up to 300,000 m³ per second in the rainy season. The Amazon is responsible for about 20% of the total volume of fresh water entering the oceans worldwide. Offshore of the mouth of the Amazon, potable water can be drawn from the ocean while still out of sight of the coastline, and the salinity of the ocean is notably lower five hundred kilometers out to sea.
In reality there are many Amazons. Due to the sheer size of the region there are noticable differences from one area to another. There are many Amazon rainforests not one continues biome. There are also many differences in culture from one place to another in the region. Just as the forests are not homogeneous neither are the local customs and traditions from one part of the region to the other the same.
Before the Andes Mountains rose on the Pacific coast of South America the Amazon Basin drained into the Pacific instead of the Atlantic. One of the remnants of this is the Amazon sting rays. The sting rays that inhabit the rivers of the Amazon are related to the Pacific rays not the Atlantic rays. As the mountains rose the water shifted it´s flow from the Pacific to toward the Atlantic. This formed a huge inland sea in the basin. Eventually the water found it´s way to the Atlantic and the sea was drained become the river system that has evolved into that we know today. There are several theories as to why the forests of Amazonia have the differences in species composition that they do. One of the reasons is probably the isolation that areas have had one from another during the many glacial cycles over the past several million years. As the Earth cools during a glacial the equatorial climate of the Amazonia has dried out and become somewhat cooler. This created large areas of savanna and broke up the continuous forest. During these periods evolution gave rise to species endemic to the different areas. Although many trees are found throughout Amazonia some are common only to a specfic area. When the temperatures became warmer during the interglacial periods, like the one we are in now, the forests reoccupied the savana areas. When flying over Amazonia it is easy to think of the place as one forest when in reality there are many.
The worlds greatest river slices through the worlds greatest tropical forest where for most of the regions twenty million inhabitants life revolves around the rivers that compose the inland river ocean of Amazonia.
Manaus the City of the Forest on the Negro River
I live in the city of Manaus, Amazonas on the Negro River in the heart of Amazonia. Manaus a city of approximately 2 million inhabitants is known as the capital of Brazilian Amazon region. The city is located at the point where the Negro River meets the Solimões River to form the Amazon River proper. Manaus is the capital of the state of Amazonas which is the largest state in Brazil and remains with ninety eight percent of it´s forest cover intact. The tropical forest of Amazonas is the second largest tropical forest in the world second only to the Brazilian Amazon forest which includes the state of Amazonas. Manaus truly is the city of the forest and on the banks of the Negro River.
The history of Manaus began as an Indian village built around the Portuguese fortress of São José da Barra , in 1669. A fortress had been constructed to prevent the encroachment of the Dutch who were garrisoned in Suriname (former Dutch Guyana) and guarantee the domain of the Portuguese Crown in the region. The settlement that developed around the fortress was given the name of São José da Barra do Rio Negro and in 1832, under denomination of Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Barra do Rio Negro, the settlement was raised to the status of Villa (small town). In 1848, the small town of Vila da Barra was raised to the status of City, with the name Cidade da Barra do Rio Negro, the name was officially changed to Manáos, in 1856 in hommage to the Manáo (Mother of the gods) Indian nation, the most important native group in the region. The Manaós were historically acknowledged for their courage and bravery.
During the rubber boom between 1890 and 1910 Manaus was the richest city in Brazil. The local businessmen and leaders imported from the Europe hundreds of architects and landscape painters, for the execution of an ambitious urban plan that would result in a city with European architectonic profile, though embedded in the middle of the rainforest. Modern and innovative, Manaus was one of the first Brazilian cities to have electricity, pluvial drainage system, water treatment, sewer system and electric streetcar service. During this period Manaus inaugurated the Amazonas Opera House which astonished the world for its luxury, refinement and architectonic beauty, In 1909 the first Brazilian University was founded, the Universidade Livre de Manaus (Autonomous University of Manaus). The floating harbor, built to adapt to the seasonal rise and drop of the water level of the rivers, was totally imported from England. And, several other public buildings were also imported from England, such as the Central Market, and Customs House.
With the establishment of the Free Zone, in 1967, Manaus took advantage of the fiscal incentives to become a dynamic industrial and commercial center. The tax incentives constitutionally mandated transformed Manaus into the industrial hub for consumer electronics and motorcycle manufacturing in Brazil. This has generated a concentration of multinational and Brazilian companies that include, Nokia, Honda, Samsung, Sony, Yamaha, LG, and many others. The PIM (Polo Industrial, (Industrial Pole),de Manaus) is responsible for over 30 billion USD in yearly output. The main market for the goods manufactured in Manaus is the Brazilian domestic market. Altough exports have grown over recent years.
The development of the PIM, which employees aproximately 150,000 direct workers. The migration of people from the poorer regions of Para, Maranhão and other areas has produced much of the rapid population growth over the past twenty years. Unfortunately this has been coupled with poor public planning and a chaotic urban sprawl. Although the city is situated on the largest river in the world a large segment of the population still does not have city water and sewage. This is being corrected now with a major public works program. Much of the uncontrolled population growth occupied the natural corredors formed by the cities streams and along the waterfront. The inhabitants of these areas live in precarious conditions mostly in wooden houses on stilts. There is an active program financed by the Interamerican Develop Bank which is urbanizing these areas replacing the slums with parks and avenues. The inhabitants of the areas are being relocated into government built housing or given a settlment to allow them to buy a home elswhere. This program known as Prosamim has been successful and is being looked as a model for developing cities around the world. Manaus has been selected as a World Cup Football location for the Games of 2014. This will bring large investments in infrastructure including a new sports arena complex of intenational standards, a light rail mass transit system among other improvements.
The state of Amazonas is the leader in the Amazon region of environmental protection and the standing forest is the largest intact tropical forest in the world. There are many problems in Manaus as there are in any metropolitan area of it´s size. Like all of Brazil violence and corruption are continuing problems. These which need solution for Manaus, Amazonia, and Brazil to obtain the great potential of it´s natural resources and dynamic population. I believe that Amazonia is not one of the problems of Brazil but one of the greatest opportunities and assets.
The City and It´s Neighborhoods
The Ponta Negra is on the point where the Tarumã river meets the Negro River. This area is now the most expensive neighborhood in town and a major recreational site. The development of the river walk over looking the Negro River is a popular place for people to come just stroll and look at the river, get something to eat, practice sports, see music shores, drink and be merry, etc. The major type of housing is Apartements which range from 200,000 USD to severl million dollars. Although the area is mostly for families there still is a more sleezy side to the area down the hill from the Avenue full of bars blaring music and people that have been to the beach or just hanging out. This area is called the Inferninho, or little Hell. I sort of like it there, occaisionally.
Manaus Belle Epoque
The period of the rubber boom in Amazonia covered the last part of the 19th Century and early part of the 20th Century. During this time there was explosive growth of the economy and the riches brought in to Manaus by the revenues it generated transformed the city into what was known as the Paris of the Tropics. Indeed there was a direct connection with Paris and the city was influenced by the Belle Epoque in Europe. At the time famous architects were brought to Manaus to design the buildings. The buildings of this time used a lot of imported materials such as roof tiles, floor tiles, and even Portuguese pine doors and windows. The wealthy of Manaus went more to Europe than to Rio de Janeiro. Some people even sent their laundry to be done in Europe. Manaus at this time was the wealthiest city in Brazil.
The Ports of Manaus
Manaus has three ports which handle ocean going vessels. These ports are Superterminais a private port which handles Maersk Lines, Mercosul Lines (a subsidiar of Maersk which carries domestic ocean cargo from Manaus up and down the coast of Brazil), APL, MOL (Mistui OSK Line), and a new line from the States, Bringer Lines, Porto Chibatão, which handles Hamburg Sud Lines, Aliança (as subsidiary of Hamburg Sud which also carries domestic ocean freight, and CMA CGM, and the Public Port downtown which handles cargo for Aliança. Between the three ports of Manaus 190,000 twenty foot equivalent containers were moved in and out in 2008. Due to the lack of a road link to Manaus with the rest of Brazil cargo either is shipped via domestic ocean service or truck service using a barge connecton to the nearest road head. Due to the size of the industry in Manaus and the relatively large population a lot of cargo moves in and out daily.
The Industrial Pole of Manaus (Polo Industrial de Manaus)
The Free Zone of Manaus, Zona Franca de Manaus, was created as a special commerce and industry zone in Brazil in 1967. The purpose of this was to create jobs by manufacturing products for the Brazilian market by using tax incentives to attract industry to the city. This program which is guaranteed by the Brazilian constitution has been one of the key factors in creating economic growth while maintaining the forest intact. Today the PIM which the district is known as generates over 30 billion USD in revenues per year. The main industries are Motorcycle manufacture (all of the motorcycles sold in Brazil are made in Manaus), high tech (cell phones, video, audio, etc.), and plastic products to support the industry. At the Honda factory motorcycle comes off of the assembly line every 23 seconds. And, Nokia manufactures phones for Brazil and the USA market.
Paricatuba is a village of several thousand people situated on the right margin of the Negro River just upstream from Manaus. The name comes from the indigenous name Parica, which is a plant used by the indians to make a drug inhaled as a powder, and the word tuba, which means along the waterfront, or beach. This area has been inhabited for thousands of years with artifacts of pottery that are at least 3,00 years old being found in the area.
Chacara Bela Vista
Bela Vista Beach
IN THE COUNTRY
My place in the country.............