Sharing borders with Peru and Colombia, Amazonas is the major state of the western Amazon: It is also the largest, and most geographically remote, of all Brazil’s states. It is here that you’ll find the largest patches of intact rainforests and the greatest number of Brazilian Indians, some of whom still manage to maintain traditional lifestyles.
In Amazonas, the river and its tributaries dominate daily life. Almost all transportation is by boat—riverboats, speedboats, or dug-out canoes—that are constantly shuttling people and goods up and down the rivers and their tributaries. And the very rhythms of the river—its seasonal floods and rare, but occasional droughts—regulate the lives of the magnificent array of flora and fauna as well as human inhabitants.
The sole “center of civilization” amidst the seemingly endless green wilderness is Amazonas’s capital city of Manaus, which is home to two million people, or half the population of the entire state. Although it has a unique flavor and boasts some interesting sights, this ramshackle frontier town on the fringe of the jungle functions first and foremost as a gateway to exploring the natural treasures of the Western Amazon.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition