Manaus lies a thousand miles upriver from the mouth of the Amazon, near the confluence of the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes - the two major arteries that form the Amazon proper. For one brief shining moment in the 19th century, this port in the heart of the rainforest was the world's wealthiest city. It was a place where the great barons of the rubber trade literally lit their cigars with hundred dollar bills and flocked to the ornate opera house to hear Caruso. The bubble burst suddenly. Its place in the sun eclipsed, Manaus settled into obscurity until 1967. The city's fortunes revived that year when Manaus became a duty-free zone. A thriving domestic trade in consumer electronics, from stereos to TVs, replaced the old wealth of the rubber barons. But one thing has never changed in Manaus - the great Amazonian forest lurks outside the confines of the city, offering an irresistible adventure to travelers.
Manaus lies near the confluence of the Rio Negro - the Amazon's famous "Black River" - and the Rio Solimoes. Today, modern high-rises and vast factories overshadow the pastel mansion erected during the great rubber boom.