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History and Culture

Mystery surrounds the lush green forest of the Amazon River basin. To this day, researchers are uncovering clues that can help us understand the history of the peoples inhabiting this diverse region.

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

The Spanish were the first Europeans to traverse the Amazon River. On their journey, they are said to have met 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, archaeologists, anthropologists, biologists and adventurists 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 communities that exist amid the dense greenery and difficult terrain. Traveling by boat remains the best way to experience this verdant basin, and on many river cruises, passengers have the opportunity to meet residents of small Brazilian or Peruvian towns and learn about local traditions of the Amazon.