Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest, with a population of around 400,000. It is the capital of Loreto Region and Maynas Province. It is generally considered the most populous city in the world that cannot be reached by road.
Located on the Amazon River, it is a mere above sea level even though it is more than from the mouth of the Amazon at Belem in Brazil, on the Atlantic Ocean. It is situated downstream of the confluence of the Ucayali and Maranon rivers, the two main headwaters of the Amazon River. Iquitos has long been a major port in the Amazon Basin. It is surrounded by three rivers: the Nanay, the Itaya, and the Amazon.
The city can be reached only by airplane or boat, with the exception of a road to Nauta, a small town roughly south. Most travel within the city itself is via bus, motorcycle, or auto rickshaw . Transportation to nearby towns often requires a river trip via llevo-llevo, a small public motorised boat.
The climate is hot and humid, with an average relative humidity of 85%. The wet season lasts from around November to May, with the river reaching its highest point in May. The river is at its lowest in October.
Iquitos was established as a Jesuit mission in the 1750s, and in 1864 it started to grow when the Loreto Region was created and Iquitos became its capital. It is currently the seat of a Roman Catholic Apostolic Vicariate. [*]
Iquitos was known for its rubber industry through the rubber boom of the first decade of the 20th century, and there are still great mansions from the 1800s, including the Iron House , designed by Gustave Eiffel. The boom came to an end when rubber seeds were smuggled out of the country and planted elsewhere. The 1982 movie Fitzcarraldo, about the life of rubber baron Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, was filmed near Iquitos.
Iquitos has become important in the shipment of lumber from the Amazon Rainforest to the outside world, and it offers modern amenities for the residents and tourists in the area. Other industries include oil, rum and beer production.
Iquitos is home to numerous research projects that cover the studies of ecology in relation to ornithology and herpetology. Cornell University in particular owns a field station dubbed the Cornell University Esbaran Amazon Field Laboratory. Founded in July of 2001 under the direction of Dr. Eloy Rodriguez as a research facility dedicated to education, conservation, and the discovery of novel medicinal compounds from applied field chemoecology, the field laboratory strives to Survey and catalog the inventory of biological diversity found along the Yarapa River Basin while providing researchers with field experience in the broad range of disciplines necessary for this task. Another main goal is to explore potential value-added derivatives of biodiversity. This includes both tangible returns in the form of new discoveries in the biomedical and related sciences, as well as the less tangible goods such as the promotion of ecotourism and an ecological aesthetic, and the corresponding benefits to the local communities, and to participating students and researchers.
Iquitos has a growing reputation as a tourist community, especially as a jumping-off point for tours of the Amazon rainforest and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, and trips downriver to Manaus, Brazil - the other rubber-industry city in the interior of the Amazon basin - and finally the Atlantic Ocean, which is away.
A boat tour of Belen is a common tourist attraction. Belen is an area of Iquitos that can be accessed by foot in the dry season but is only accessible via boat in the wet season. Many of the homes in this area are tethered to large poles and float upon the rising waters every year, and some homes float year-round. Where the waters begin there are often a few men with their boats who transport locals and tourists for a small fee.
There is also an open-air market in Belen (in a part that doesn't flood). This too is a common tourist attraction. Most notable is the medicine lane, "Pasaje Paquito", an entire block of the market lined with local plant (and animal) medicines, stocking everything from copaiba to chuchuwasai.
During the 1990s, homosexuals fled the repressive police in other cities of Peru to live in this frontier town. Many now live in Belen.
Ayahuasca tourism has increased in Iquitos in recent years, with Westerners seeking traditional shamanic experiences using the visionary Amazonian medicinal tea. Although there are some reputable curanderos who can provide a safe context for such experiences, others do not have the specialised training or skills. As with any tourist activity, consumer discretion is advised.
Iquitos is served by Crnl. FAP Francisco Secada Vignetta International Airport.
Iquitos has two universities: Universidad Nacional de la Amazonia Peruana, the local state university, and Universidad Particular de Iquitos, a private institution. It is also home to the Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonia Peruana (IIAP), the Institute of Investigation of the Peruvian Amazon.
Colegio Nacional de Iquitos is a soccer team based in Iquitos.
Notable people from Iquitos
Cesar Calvo de Araujo, Renowned writer and painter, born in Yurimaguas near Iquitos (1910-1970).
ciudad de iquitos web site of iquitos
Municipalidad Provincial de Maynas - Maynas provincial municipality official website (Spanish)
Iquitos travel information
Satellite picture by Google Maps
El Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonia Peruana (IIAP) (Spanish)
Mi Selva - Website General information about Iquitos. (Spanish)
SITURISMO - Sistema de informacion turistica de Iquitos. (Spanish)
Iquitos regional map including Pacaya Samiria Reserve
Universidad Nacional de la Amazonia Peruana (Spanish)
General information about Iquitos and Loreto (Spanish and English)
Iquitos : Attractions | Frommers.com
Iquitos: following the route of the rubber boom (from the PromPeru official tourism promotion website)
YouTube video of canoe and rickshaw transport in Iquitos
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Iquitos