Manaus is the capital of Amazonas State of Brazil, with the Amazon basin covering over two million square miles, over one third of the area of the country. Manaus is situated in the heart of the Brazilian rainforest 900 miles inland from the Atlantic coast. The area is covered almost entirely with tropical rain forest of great variety, which is known as ‘inferno verde’ or ‘green hell’ with only a rainy season as it lies just below the equator and has an average hot temperature of 25 degrees Centigrade and a daily variation of only 2.6 degrees Centigrade. The mighty Amazon is of length 4,080 miles and is the second longest river in the world, collecting the flood water of the high Andes from Bolivia to Colombia, and is fed by the tributaries of the Rio Negro, the Madeira and the Xingu rivers. It is navigable past Manaus to Iquitos, at 1,200 miles from the sea, and into Eastern Peru, but the tributaries are blocked by massive rapids and falls. The early explorers were hard pressed to hack and cut their way through the dense forest with machetes, with the always permanent presence and threat of large spiders, tarantulas and snakes, some venomous, leading to death either quickly or slowly from cancerous wounds.
When the snows of the high Andes melt and the Amazon rainfall reaches a peak, a great annual flood is swept down the Rio Negro river of up to 40 feet (12 metres) in height, rising to flood level in February and March and beginning to recede in June. The highest river level of 29.97 metres was recorded in the great flood of 2012 at Manaus, with a minimum ebb level of only 13.63 metres on the river recorded in 2010. As a consequence of this dramatic river rise and fall, all waterside properties are built on high stilts, with the Port of Manaus having two floating wharves, detached from the bank and named Paredao and Malcher. The Paredao floating platform has four berths for deep sea vessels on its inside and outside berths, whereas the Malcher floating platform is used only by river passenger craft and fishing boats for most of the year, with a theoretical three further berths for larger ships during the massive flood period.
HISTORY OF MANAUS
The first Spanish explorers discovered the wide mouth of the Amazon in 1499, the width being an enormous seventy miles. The Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellano sailed along most of the wide Amazon in 1542, and the first European explorers and settlers built a small fort in 1669 named Sao Jose de Rio Negrinho by Capt. Francisco da Motta Falcao. The fort had four cannons for protection against Portuguese forces based in what today is Surinam, with the fort operational for one hundred years. The mission and village that later grew up was named on 24th October 1848 as Cidade (Villa) de Barra do Rio Negro, ‘barra’ is the name of the river margins and sand bar at the mouth of the Rio Negro. The village lay on the north bank of the Rio Negro, only eleven miles from the junction of the ‘encontro des dos aguas’ (meeting place of the two waters) of the Rio Negro and Solimoes rivers that combine to form the mighty Amazon leading eventually to the sea. The black waters of the Rio Negro form a black diving line with the brown waters of the Solimoes at the junction, and do not mix together for many miles downstream. The town had succeeded Barcelos in 1809 as the capital of the Rio Negro area, and in 1850 became the capital of Amazonas province, later becoming a State of Brazil. The name was then changed to Manaos after an Indian river tribe on 4th September 1856, and since 1939 the name has been spelled Manaus. Manaus is sited at an elevation of only 302 feet above sea level making deep sea ship navigation from the distant South Atlantic very easy.
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