Manaus is a a city in northwestern Brazil on the north banks of the Rio Negro, 18km (11 miles) north of the confluence with the Amazon river. It is the capital of the Brazilian state Amazonas, and with a population of 1,224,363 (IBGE - 1998), Manaus is the largest city in the Amazon.

Manaus began as a small fort, São José da Barra, created in 1669 by Portuguese settlers as a defense against Spanish incursions into Brazil by way of the Amazon river. One November 13, 1832, the settlement gained the status of Vila, and was named "Manaus", after the indigenous tribe, the "Manaós", which once inhabitated the area. In the local language, the word means "Mother of God". On October 24, 1848, Manaus was awarded the status of city with the name Cidade da Barra do Rio Negro. In 1850, Amazonas became a province. On September 4, 1856, the city was renamed Cidade de Manaus.

From 1890 to 1920, the Rubber Boom, caused in part by the invention of the process of vulcanization, made the city wealthy. Immigrants from northeastern Brazil, fleeing drought and poverty, flooded the city seeking riches in the rubber trade. During the Rubber Boom, Manaus's Opera House was built, a building that remains an attraction to this day. By 1920, synthetic rubber and the growth of plantations in Southeast Asia caused a drastic plunge in the price of rubber, and Manaus descended into poverty.

In 1967, Manaus was declared a duty-free zone. Tourists flocked to the cities, and hotels were built to satisfy the demands. Manaus is an important port city on the Amazon river. Billions of dollars of merchandise pass through Manaus every year from cities like Iquitos, Peru. Some of Manaus's biggest tourist attracts are the zoo, Ponta Negra beach, and the Mercado Adolpho Lisboa.

Manaus has an average temperature of 32ºC (90ºF). The rainy season is between December and June (it rains almost every day). The rest of the year is the dry, intensely sunny season, where the average temperature hovers around 38ºC (100ºF). Around September, the temperature can hit 40ºC (104ºF).

Holidays:

September 5: Amazonas becomes a Province
October 24: Anniversary of Manaus
December 8: Day of Our Lady of the Conception, patron of Amazonas

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