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Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest, with a population of 370,962. 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 Belémmarker in Brazilmarker, on the Atlantic Oceanmarker. It is situated downstream of the confluence of the Ucayalimarker and Marañónmarker 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 (mototaxi, motocarro or motokar). Transportation to nearby towns often requires a river trip via llevo-llevo, a small public motorized 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.[64184]

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 Housemarker (Spanish: Casa de Fierro), 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 Universitymarker in particular owns a field station dubbed the Cornell University Esbaran Amazon Field Laboratory. Founded in July 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 Reservemarker, and trips downriver to Manausmarker, Brazilmarker - the other rubber-industry city in the interior of the Amazon basin - and finally the Atlantic Oceanmarker, which is away.

Iquitos is also home to the prominent Peruvian conservation research organization, Project Amazonas and its three biological stations on tributaries of the Amazon. Scientists, students, and tourists fly into Iquitos, where they transfer to boats for the remainder of their travel to the Project's research stations.

A boat tour of Belén is a common tourist attraction. Belén 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.

A typical native house in Belén, where many are built so they can rise and fall with the water level.
There is also an open-air market in Belén (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.

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.

Within the Belén open-air market, tourists may also notice the illegal trade in rainforest primates, parrots, and other wildlife that should be protected by the CITES treaty. Some of these small animals - marmosets, tamarins, spider monkeys - are purchased locally, but many tropical birds, primates, boas, etc. are smuggled into the United States for the lucrative pet trade, according to Kneidel and Kneidel and TRAFFIC: The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network.

Iquitos is served by Crnl.marker FAP Francisco Secada Vignetta International Airportmarker.


Iquitos has four universities: Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana (UNAP), the local state university; Universidad Particular de Iquitos (UPI), Universidad Científica del Perú (UCP), Universidad Peruana del Oriente (UPO) three private institutions. It is also home to the Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonía Peruana (IIAP), the Institute of Investigation of the Peruvian Amazon.


Colegio Nacional de Iquitos is an association football team based in Iquitos. In 2005 the city's association football community received the FIFA Fair Play Award as a result of being one of the five host cities for the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship.

Notable people from Iquitos

See also

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