Amazonas


Amazonas
/am'euh zoh"neuhs/, n.
a state in NW Brazil. 1,406,354; 601,769 sq. mi. (1,558,582 sq. km). Cap.: Manáos.

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▪ political division, Colombia
      departamento, southeastern Colombia, located in the warm, humid Amazon River basin. It is bounded on the northwest by the Caquetá River, on the northeast by the Apaporis River, on the east by Brazil, and on the south by Peru and the Putumayo River. Colombia's only direct contact with the Amazon River is through Amazonas. It is the largest departamento in Colombia but is also one of the least densely populated. Principal economic activities are the procurement of mahogany and other woods, rubber, and ipecac from the forests; fishing; and the cultivation of peanuts (groundnuts), bananas, pineapples and other fruits, rice, and sugarcane. Most of the population lives in and around Leticia, the capital and major trade centre. No good roads penetrate the rainforest; travel is entirely by river or by air. Area 42,342 square miles (109,665 square km). Pop. (2003 est.) 76,381.

      largest estado (state) of Brazil, situated in the northwestern part of the country. It is bounded to the northwest by Colombia, to the north by Venezuela and the Brazilian state of Roraima, to the east and southeast by the Brazilian states of Pará and Mato Grosso, to the south by the Brazilian state of Rondônia, to the southwest by the Brazilian state of Acre, and to the west by Peru. Despite its size, it is one of the most thinly populated Brazilian states. Amazonas occupies the greater part of the tropical forest zone of the Amazon River basin. The capital, Manaus, is located in the eastern part of the state at the confluence of the Negro River with the mainstream of the Amazon.

      The Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellana (Orellana, Francisco de) passed through this region in 1541–42 during a voyage down the Amazon from the Coca, one of its Andean headwaters, to its Atlantic estuary. In 1669 a Portuguese captain, Francisco da Mota Falcão, founded the fort of São José do Rio Negrinho on the site of the present Manaus; and in 1755 the captaincy of São José do Rio Negro was established in the region. After Brazilian independence Rio Negro remained dependent on the state of Pará until 1850, when it gained autonomy, becoming the province of Amazonas in 1852. After the overthrow of Brazil's imperial regime in 1889, the province became a federal state, adopting a constitution in 1891. From 1880 until its decline in 1910, the rubber trade brought prosperity to Amazonas, for which a modern port was constructed at Manaus by 1900. In 1946 the Brazilian government launched a plan for the economic development of Amazonia that has been continued to the present and which centres upon a free trade zone at Manaus.

      Except on the northern borders, where Neblina Peak reaches 9,888 feet (3,014 metres), the highest point in Brazil, the state's mean elevation is not more than 300 feet (90 metres) above sea level. The mainstream of the great Amazon River (known as the Solimões River from the Peruvian frontier to the Negro River confluence) traverses the state from west to east; its major tributaries are the Iça, the Japurá, and the Negro rivers from the north and the Javari, the Juruá, the Purus, and the Madeira from the south. With an annual average temperature of 79 °F (26 °C) and an annual rainfall of 80 inches (2,000 mm), the climate is warm and extremely humid. Apart from small areas of savanna (grassy parkland) on the northern borders, equatorial rainforest covers virtually the entire state.

      The native animal life is numerous and varied. Mammals are represented by monkeys, bats, and rodents; birds by ant thrushes, parrots, toucans, and various marsh birds; and reptiles by caymans, turtles, boas, anacondas, and iguanas.

      Most of the people of the areas remote from the Amazon mainstream live in settlements on the banks of its tributaries. Nearly all of the rural population consists of caboclos—persons of mixed European and American Indian descent. There is also a large group descended from immigrants from northeastern Brazil who arrived during the rubber boom, greatly augmented by internal migration of the 1970s and 1980s. The Indian population in the late 20th century was estimated at 60,000, or one-fifth of the total Indian population in Brazil. The Indian groups, of which about 30 may be distinguished, have been progressively reduced in numbers by imported disease and by economic dislocation. Large areas of the state's territory are uninhabited. Almost half of the population is concentrated in Manaus, with the only other sizable towns—Parintins, Manacapuru, Itacoatiara, Tefé, and Coari—also along the Amazon River in the eastern half of the state. Manaus is the focus of the fast-growing ecotourism industry.

      The language of Amazonas is Portuguese, but the local vocabulary also incorporates many words from the Indian languages. Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion, though the Indians have preserved elements of their original religions. Yellow fever, malaria, leprosy, and other tropical diseases occur sporadically.

      The Federal University of Amazonas, at Manaus, was founded in 1962. The National Research Institute for Amazonia, with its headquarters in Manaus, conducts research on Amazonian ecology.

      The products of the state's vegetation—timber, guarana (a climbing shrub containing tannin and caffeine and used as the base for the highly popular Brazilian soft drink of the same name), vegetable oils, and fibres—form the basis of the agricultural sector of the economy. Cassava (manioc), jute, bananas, and sweet potatoes are grown on the belts of land fertilized annually by the rivers. Cattle have been introduced to the higher lands through government assistance programs that promote large-scale ranching. Brazilian industry absorbs most of the raw materials produced by Amazonas, but rubber, timber, jute, vegetable oils, nuts, resins, aquarium fishes, and skins are exported. The state's large deposits of natural gas and some crude petroleum began to be exploited in the 1990s.

      Transport is mainly by water; the rivers accommodate both large ships and canoes. The all-but-abandoned Transamazônica Highway is of limited use, but Manaus is accessible via an interstate highway opened in late 1998. Area 606,468 square miles (1,570,746 square km). Pop. (2006 est.) 3,311,026.

      estado (state), southern Venezuela. It is bounded on the north by the state of Bolívar, on the east and south by Brazil, and on the west by Colombia. The large but sparsely populated state lies within the drainage basins of the Orinoco River, which rises near the Brazilian border, and the Negro River, which is a northern tributary of the Amazon. Near the centre of the territory is a maze of intricate natural channels. One stretch of 204 miles (328 km), the Casiquiare, flows south from the Orinoco; it is usually navigable by small boats for half the year and links the Orinoco with the Negro and, thus, the Amazon. Amazonas also includes the western outliers of the Guiana Highlands. Largely unexplored, the state consists mainly of hot, humid rain forest, with much tropical savanna. About two-thirds of the inhabitants are forest-dwelling Indians who hunt and fish for food, mainly on a subsistence basis. Puerto Ayacucho, the state capital, lies on the Orinoco, just below rapids that block continuous navigation of the river. The economy is based principally on the gathering of rubber, balata, vanilla, and chicle. Transportation is mainly by boat, airplane, and dugout canoe. Area 67,900 square miles (175,750 square km). Pop. (2007 est.) 142,220.

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Universalium. 2010.

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