Manaus or Manaós before 1939, or Lugar de Barra do Rio Negro, is the capital city of the state of Amazonas in northern Brazil. It is situated at the confluence of the Negro and Solimões rivers. With a population of more than 2.0 million, it is the most populous city of the Amazon.
Manaus is located in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, and access to the city is primarily by boat or airplane. This isolation helped preserve both nature as well as the culture of the city. The culture of Manaus, more than in any other urban area of Brazil, preserves the habits of native Brazilian tribes. The city is the main entrance to visit the fauna and flora of the Brazilian Amazon. Few places in the world afford such a variety of plants, birds, insects, and fishes.
It was known at the beginning of the century, as “Heart of the Amazon” and “City of the Forest”. Currently, its main economic engine is the Industrial Pool of Manaus, the famous Free Economic Zone. Its manufacturers include electronics, chemical products, and soap; there are distilling and ship construction industries. Manaus also exports Brazil nuts, rubber, jute and rosewood oil. It has a cathedral, opera house, zoological and botanical gardens, an eco-park and regional and native peoples museums.
The Solimões and Negro rivers meet in Manaus and join to form the Amazon River. Rubber from the Seringueira made it the richest city in South America during the late 1800s. Rubber also helped Manaus earn its nickname, the “Paris of the Tropics”. Many wealthy European families settled in Manaus and brought their love for sophisticated European art, architecture, and culture with them. Manaus is also a duty-free zone, which has encouraged development in the region.