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Manaos

MANAOS, a city and port of Brazil and capital of the state of Amazonas, on the left bank of the Rio Negro 12 m. above its junction with the Solimoes, or Amazon, and 908 m. (Wappaus) above the mouth of the latter, in lat. 3 8' 4" S., long. 60 W. Pop. (1908), about 40,000, including a large percentage of Indians, negroes and mixed-bloods; the city is growing rapidly. Manaos stands on a slight eminence overlooking the river, 106 ft. above sea-level, traversed by several " igarapes " (canoe paths) or side channels, and beautified by the luxuriant vegetation of the Amazon valley. The climate is agreeable and healthful, the average temperature for the year (1902) being 84, the number of rainy days 130, and the total rainfall 66-4 in. Up to the beginning of the 20th century the only noteworthy public edifices were the church of N.S. da Conceicao, the St Sebastiao asylum and, possibly, a Misericordia hospital; but a government building, a custom-house, a municipal hall, courts of justice, a marketplace and a handsome theatre were subsequently erected, and a modern water-supply system, electric light and electric tramways were provided. The " igarapes " are spanned by a number of bridges. Higher education is provided by a lyceum or high school, besides which there is a noteworthy school (bearing the name of Benjamin Constant) for poor orphan girls. Manaos has a famous botanical garden, an interesting museum, a public library, and a meteorological observatory. The port of Manaos, which is the commercial centre of the whole upper Amazon region, was nothing but a river anchorage before 1902. In that year a foreign corporation began improvements, which include a stone river-wall or quay, storehouses for merchandise, and floating wharves or landing stages connected with the quay by floating bridges or roadways. The floating wharves and bridges are made necessary by the rise and fall of the river, the difference between the maximum and minimum levels being about 33 ft.

The principal exports are rubber, nuts, cacao, dried fish, hides and piassava fibre. The markets of Manaos receive their supplies of beef from the national stock ranges on the Rio Branco, and it is from this region that hides and horns are received for export. The shipping movement of the port has become large and important, the total arrivals in 1907, including small trading boats, being 1589, of which 133 were ocean-going steamers from Europe and the United States, 75 from south Brazilian ports, and 227 river steamers from Para. This rapid growth in its direct trade is due to a provincial law of 1878 which authorized an abatement of 3% in the export duties on direct shipments, and a state law of 1900 which made it compulsory to land and ship all products of the state from the Manaos custom-house.

The first European settlement on the site of Manaos was made in 1660, when a small fort was built here by Francisco da Motta Falcao, and was named Sao Jose de Rio Negro. . The mission and village which followed was called Villa de Barra, or Barra do Rio Negro (the name " Barra " being derived from the " bar " in the current of the river, occasioned by the setback caused by its encounter with the Amazon). It succeeded Barcellos as the capital of the old capitania of Rio Negro in 1809, and became the capital of Amazonas when that province was created in 1850, its name being then changed to Manaos, the name of the principal tribe of Indians living on the Rio Negro at the time of its discovery. In 1892 Manaos became the see of the new bishopric of Amazonas.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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