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Manaus, located on the Rio Negro only 10 kilometers from the Amazon, is a large travel hub for other destinations in Brazil. This city, which has a population of 1.5 million, has yielded its commercial and economic power from the trade of rubber and latex. At a point in history, it was thought to become the “Paris of the Tropics” and there are still signs of this optimism and luxury, including the Opera House. However, once rubber was been replaced by other synthetic alternatives, the city began to decline in growth. Manaus still continues to be a rather industrial center; its industry today consists of brewing, ship building, chemical production and petroleum refining. In addition, the city continues to have a large and active harbor, where large ocean liners and other ships dock regularly. It is quite a spectacular sight, this city of high-rises and concrete, in the center of the lush, vibrant Amazon, on the coast of a river of dark black water.
In addition, Manaus is a great place to start from if one wishes to explore the rainforest. Due to its proximity to the Amazon and the burgeoning popularity of eco-tourism, Manaus now serves as a stronghold for ecological tourism. For instance, it is close to Ponta Negra beach which has beautiful sand formations at low tide as well as the National Research Institute of Amazonia, which includes Botanical Gardens that display the unique and astounding fauna of the Amazon.