Curiosities of the Amazon

 

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The Bolivian hero in War of the Acre was a Tacana Indian named Bruno Racua. Using flaming arrows, he led the retaking of Bahia, nowadays Cobija the capital of Pando, letting the Brazilian troops escape.

 

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The first car that arrived in Bolivia was in Cachuela Esperanza (Beni), brought by the rubber industrial Nicolás Suárez in the late nineteenth century. At that time a modern hospital with European doctors was also operating in Cachuela.

 

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Many of the rivers in the Bolivian Amazon owe their name to the Moxeña language. Mamoré means Mother River; Chimoré, River of Almond Trees, Sécure, narrow or squeezed river, Chapare, Origin of waters, Apere, River of the Monkeys.

 

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Most of the rivers of Pando have been baptized with words in the araona tongue. To cite some: Manuripi means Beloved River, Tahuamanu, River of the Ambaibos, Manurimi, Little River and Manupare, River of the Signal.

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The indian name of Riberalta, the main city of the Bolivian Amazon, is Pamahuayá, which means in Chacobo idiom “Fruits Place”. It’s neighbor city Guayaramerin, means in Tupí idiom “Cachuela Chica” (little Cachuela).

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The department and river name Beni comes from indian Tacana vocabulary and means “Wind”. Rurrenabaque (touristic center in the Madidi Parc) is also a derivative from Tacana and means “Duck Creek”.

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In Bolivia, until 1990 when the Indian March for the “Dignity and the Territory” happened, most of the people didn’t know the existence of Indian people in the forest, with their own customs, languages and life-forms, different from the Andean (Aymara, Quechua and Uru).

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From the 36 indigenous peoples who inhabit Bolivia and are recognized by the State’s Political Constitution, 30 live in the Amazon region. Probably two of them are still going as nomads through the Amazon forests avoiding the predatory action of the “National Society”.

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With 75% of its territory in the Amazon and 11.20% of the total basin, Bolivia is qualitatively mostly Amazonian country. While Brasil, with 58.50% of its territory Amazonian and 67.70% of the total basin, is the country with the largest extent of land in the Amazon.

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With the proliferation of HIV-AIDS in the world, the condom industry increasingly requires more of natural rubber in the Amazon, verifying that their quality is safe and different from the ones produced synthetically or those originating from artificial plantations in Asia.

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In the thirties of the last century, the pioneer of the American automobile industry, Henry Ford, made large plantations of rubber (rubber tree) in the Amazon, but these failed due to the spread of a pest that could not be controlled.

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Many international pharmaceutical industries have invested millions of dollars in research with plants, animals and specimens from the Amazon to look to achieve a cure for HIV-AIDS. It is a fact that the long-sought vaccine against the disease of the century will bear the seal of the Amazon, from its biodiversity and the ancestral knowledge of their indigenous peoples.

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The famous perfume Chanel is produced from a plant that grows naturally in the Amazon forests. The large-scale demand for industrial purposes has endangered this species of aromatic flora.

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Until 1839, the rubber was an article that attracted more curious than entrepreneurs. It melted in the heat and was becoming brittle in the cold. In that year, an North American named Charles Goodyear (hence the brand of tires) discovered the process of vulcanization of rubber, making it stable in the cold and heat.

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Thanks to income from the rubber, in the early years of the twentieth century the Brazilian Amazon had twice the income per capita that of the coffee producing region in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Holy Spirit. Wealth ended when the English stole the seeds of rubber trees from the “seringe” and planted them on a large scale in Malaysia and Indonesia.

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Manaus (Brazil) was the rubber capital of the world, and its theater, with 681 seats, was built in Europe and transferred by boat to be assembled in Brazil; despite the heat up to 40 degrees, the rich wore suits of cloth imitating the English and women dressed with Parisian models.

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The natives of Brazil, which were 6 million at the time of the conquest, now account for only 250,000, all would occupy exactly the number of seats of the old Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. When the Portuguese arrived in Brazil, there were about 1,300 languages or indigenous idioms in the country; 170 survive today.

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Paleontological evidence of human existence in the Amazon, date back at least 12,000 years ago. In several places hominid remains have been found that confirm this theory.

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Those who do not like reptiles need to know that there are 300 species of those animals in the Amazon, from snakes to lizards, through the world’s largest: the Anaconda.

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With 30 million species, the insects form the largest group of living beings on earth, regardless of bacteria and micro-organisms. A third of all live in the Amazon they live.

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Of the 483 species of existing mammals in Brazil, 324 live in the Amazon region (67%). Of the 141 kinds of bats, 125 fly in the Amazon.

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Sharks and other sea fishes live in the Amazon River. Although they don’t reproduce in fresh water, they can survive and develop without difficulty. It is known that sharks were caught in Iquitos (Peru) at 4,000 kilometers from the Atlantic.

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The rivers of “aguas negruscas” (blackish waters), such as “el rio Negro” (the Black river) in Brazil are much beautiful but the water is acidic and poor in nutrients. It is known that only 5% of the fish sold in Manaus come from the “rio Negro” that bathes this city.

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Contrary to what you might imagine, rivers with muddy waters of the Amazon, are the most generous and prodigious for the life of the region. They carry sediments from the Andes that fertilize extensive lands and enhance biodiversity.

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The island of Marajó (Brazil) is actually an archipelago. Nobody so far has managed to count the exact number of islands, although they are estimated to be at least 2,000, occupying an area of 50,000 square kilometers, an area larger than the whole Switzerland.

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In only one day the Amazon River throws in the Atlantic Ocean more water than the entire Thames River basin in London, for a whole year. Only the “Rio Negro” (Black River) basin, a tributary of the Amazon, has more fresh water than all of Europe.

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Despite its biodiversity and exuberance, most Amazonian soils are fragile, poor in nutrients and with high level of acidity. The groundwater mass is thin and unsuitable for large-scale agricultural crops and less for extensive stockbreeding.

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The Amazon, originally called Icamiabas, were a people of warrior women, experts in the art of war that dominated a vast region of the Amazon river – which takes its name – building an empire that ruled many peoples led by men. In the Amazon the power of women became known.

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It is known that in the Amazon about 50 indigenous groups still remain isolated, without contact with “civilization” and “technology”. Traveling and living in harmony with nature, but exposed and vulnerable to diseases and physical and cultural extermination.

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The name Amazon River, formerly called “Paraguanasu” by the Indians, was baptized by Father Gaspar de Carvajal, after the boat he was traveling on with Francisco de Orellana, was attacked by women warriors, similar to whose referred the Greek Mythology. This was in the first half of the sixteenth century.

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