Manaus (mänousˈ) [key], city (1996 pop. 1,158,265), capital of Amazonas state, NW Brazil, on the Rio Negro. It is the chief commercial and cultural center of the upper Amazon region and an important river port, with floating docks that can accommodate oceangoing vessels, including cruise ships. Surrounded by jungle, Manaus is the only major city in a c.600-mi (1000-km) radius. Founded in 1669, Manaus grew slowly until the late 19th cent., when the wild-rubber boom brought prosperity and short-lived splendor. In recent years, Manaus has regained importance because of renewed interest in the Amazon basin and its preservation, with accompanying ecotourism, and because of the discovery of oil nearby. The city is now the seat of several organizations dealing with Amazonian problems, is a free port, and has an international airport. Its manufactures 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 (with an $8 million renovation completed in 1990), zoological and botanical gardens, an ecopark, and regional and native peoples museums.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: South American Political Geography