The largest state in Brazil, Amazonas covers more territory than France, Spain, Sweden and Greece put together. However, it is extremely sparsely populated – only two of its municipalities have more than 100 thousand inhabitants: Manaus, the capital, and Parintins.
The state’s name is of course a reference to the great river – the biggest in the world in terms of volume – which traverses it. The story behind the name is that the Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellana chose it, in 1541, after he travelled its entire length, and along the way fought against a fearsome female warrior tribe which reminded him of the mythical Greek amazons, thus inspiring the name “Río de las Amazonas“.
Later on, in 1850, Amazonas became an official Brazilian province when it was separated from the then territory of Grão-Pará. In the 19th century, the state gained fame thanks to its central role in the development of the rubber industry, and after that, in the 1900s, the Manaus Duty-Free Zone contributed to the region’s economic development.
Manaus is far and away the state’s main centre for commerce, and also boasts the Amazonas Theatre, with its colourful dome made of enamelled ceramic, and the Ponta Negra and Praia da Lua bathhouses.
Replete with natural attractions and exotic and varied cuisine, Amazonas is the heart of the Amazon Rainforest – the world’s largest tropical forest, which is a highly concentrated and valuable bio-diverse area of the planet. Fine hotels, ensconced in the jungle, but close to the capital, are a wonderful way of setting off on a mission to discover the local fauna and flora.
The famous Encontro das Águas, the confluence of the two rivers (Negro and Solimões), is another top attraction.
100 kilometres from Manaus, not far from the municipality of Novo Airão, lies one of the largest fluvial archipelagos in the world: Anavilhanas, where 400 islands make up one of the amazon’s most stunning vistas.
Amazonas also encourages mountain tourism: Brazil’s highest point, the Pico da Neblina, is in this state.
Amazonense culture revolves around the traditional Boi-Bumbá festival, which takes place in June, in Parintins, 325kms from Manaus.
The state of Amazonas is a gigantic and thoroughly Brazilian region, full of culture and natural delights, indisputably one of the most exotic and extraordinary places on the planet.
Capital: Manaus Area (km2): 1,559,159.148 Population: 3,938,336 (2015) Term for a person from this state: amazonense Dial code: 92 / 97 Bordering states: Pará, Roraima, Mato Grosso, Rondônia, Acre