Local Tribes People
Keel-Billed Toucan
Emperor Tamarin

History And Culture

Mystery surrounds the lush green forest of the Amazon River basin, which covers parts of eight South American countries, including Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Venezuela. To this day, researchers are uncovering clues that can help us understand the history of the peoples inhabiting this diverse region.

People have lived in the Amazon basin for at least 10,000 years. For generations, tribal communities, both large and small, have sustained themselves on the wealth of natural resources here. By the 16th century, European explorers started to arrive, in search of gold, rubber and other riches.

The Spanish are credited with being the first to traverse the Amazon River. On their journey, they are said to have met the indigenous peoples, including women warriors they described as Amazons, like those depicted in Greek mythology. From this story, the region got its name.

Since then, travelers and adventurers, archaeologists and anthropologists, and biologists and businessmen have all come to this enchanting expanse of the tropics looking for something. In the late 19th century, roadways and settlements began to take over parts of the jungle, encroaching on the wildlife and the native people.

Parts of the Amazon still are inhabited by local village communities that exist amid the dense greenery and difficult terrain. Traveling by boat remains the best way to experience this verdant basin and its past, and on many river cruises, passengers have the opportunity to meet residents of small Brazilian or Peruvian towns and learn about local traditions and the ancestry of the Amazon.

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