Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest, with a population of 370,962. It is the capital of Loreto Region
Loreto Region
Loreto is Peru's northernmost region. Covering almost one-third of Peru's territory, Loreto is by far the nation's largest region and also one of the most sparsely populated ones, due to its remote location in the Amazon Rainforest...

 and Maynas Province
Maynas Province
Maynas is a province in the Loreto Region in northeastern Peru. Its capital, Iquitos, is also Loreto's regional capital and the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest.-Boundaries:...


Located on the Amazon River
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

, it is only 106 m (348 ft) above sea level, although it is more than 3000 km (1,864 mi) from the mouth of the Amazon at Belém
Belém is a Brazilian city, the capital and largest city of state of Pará, in the country's north region. It is the entrance gate to the Amazon with a busy port, airport and bus/coach station...

 (Brazil) on the Atlantic Ocean. It is situated 125 km (78 mi) downstream of the confluence of the Ucayali and Marañón rivers, the two main headwaters of the Amazon River. Iquitos has long been a major port in the Amazon Basin
Amazon Basin
The Amazon Basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries that drains an area of about , or roughly 40 percent of South America. The basin is located in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela...

. It is surrounded by three rivers: the Nanay
The Nanay River is tributary river to the Amazon River, west of the Napo in Peru. The Nanay is one of the three rivers that surround the jungle city of Iquitos, making it an island. Other nearby settlements on the river include the villages of Santo Tomás, Padre Cocha, and Santa Clara. During...

, the Itaya, and the Amazon.
The city can be reached only by airplane or boat, with the exception of a road to Nauta
Nauta is a bustling small town situated in the northeastern area of the Peruvian Amazon roughly 100 km south of the Province's capital, Iquitos...

, a small town roughly 100 km (62 mi) south. Ocean vessels of 3,000 tons or 9,000 tons and 5.5 metres (18 ft) draft
Draft (hull)
The draft of a ship's hull is the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull , with the thickness of the hull included; in the case of not being included the draft outline would be obtained...

 can reach Iquitos from the Atlantic ocean, 3600 km away.

Most travel within the city is via bus, motorcycle, or the ubiquitous auto rickshaw
Auto rickshaw
An auto rickshaw or three-wheeler is a usually three-wheeled cabin cycle for private use and as a vehicle for hire. It is a motorized version of the traditional pulled rickshaw or cycle rickshaw...

 (mototaxi, motocarro or motokar), which is essentially a modified motorcycle with a cabin behind supported by two wheels, seating three. Transportation to nearby towns often requires a river trip via peque-peque, 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.


European-Peruvians established Iquitos as a Jesuit mission
Mission (station)
A religious mission or mission station is a location for missionary work.While primarily a Christian term, the concept of the religious "mission" is also used prominently by the Church of Scientology and their Scientology Missions International....

 to the indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 in the 1750s. In 1864 it started to grow when the settlers created the Loreto Region
Loreto Region
Loreto is Peru's northernmost region. Covering almost one-third of Peru's territory, Loreto is by far the nation's largest region and also one of the most sparsely populated ones, due to its remote location in the Amazon Rainforest...

 and made Iquitos its capital. It is the seat of a Roman Catholic Apostolic Vicariate
Apostolic vicariate
An apostolic vicariate is a form of territorial jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church established in missionary regions and countries that do not have a diocese. It is essentially provisional, though it may last for a century or more...


Iquitos was known for its rubber
Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, is an elastomer that was originally derived from latex, a milky colloid produced by some plants. The plants would be ‘tapped’, that is, an incision made into the bark of the tree and the sticky, milk colored latex sap collected and refined...

 industry through the rubber boom
Rubber boom
The rubber boom was an important part of the economic and social history of Brazil and Amazonian regions of neighboring countries, being related with the extraction and commercialization of rubber...

 of the first decade of the 20th century; it attracted thousands of immigrants from around the world, mostly young, single men who hoped to make their fortunes in rubber. The rise of the automobile and related industries had dramatically increased the worldwide demand for rubber. Some men became merchants and bankers, and made their fortunes that way. Many of the European men married indigenous
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 women and stayed in Peru the rest of their lives, founding ethnically mixed families. The immigrants brought European clothing styles, music and other cultural elements to Iquitos.

Among the unique communities formed by the 19th-century rubber boom immigration was one of Sephardic Jews from Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

. Many of the men married Peruvian women and made families in Iquitos. They established a synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

 and the Jewish Cemetery. By the end of the 20th century, four or five generations later, most descendants were no longer practicing Jews. In the 1990s, a descendant of a Jewish settler undertook serious study of the religion and began to revive Judaism among his family, friends, and other Sephardim descendants. After years of study, with the help of a sympathetic Conservative rabbi in Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

 and another from Brooklyn, New York, eventually a few hundred people learned and practiced and converted. (Conversion was necessary as their mothers were not Jewish.) Many of the converts emigrated to Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 under its "right of return
Right of return
The term right of return refers to a principle of international law, codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, giving any person the right to return to, and re-enter, his or her country of origin...

" policy.

The wealthiest Europeans built great mansions in the late 19th century, some of which survive. Casa de Fierro
Casa de Fierro
La Casa de Fierro , located in the city of Iquitos in the jungle of Peru, in front of the major square between Próspero and Putumayo streets, is a large iron residence built during the rubber boom at the end of the nineteenth century.La Casa de Fierro is one of the finest as well as best-preserved...

(Spanish for the Iron House) was designed by Gustave Eiffel
Gustave Eiffel
Alexandre Gustave Eiffel was a French structural engineer from the École Centrale Paris, an architect, an entrepreneur and a specialist of metallic structures...

, designer of the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is a puddle iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. Built in 1889, it has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world...

. After rubber seeds were smuggled out of the country and began to be cultivated in quantity elsewhere, the Peruvian boom came to an end. The city is still an important trading port in the Amazon basin.


Iquitos has a tropical rainforest climate
Tropical rainforest climate
A tropical rainforest climate, also known as an equatorial climate, is a tropical climate usually found along the equator...

 (koppen Af) with abundant rainfall and hot temperatures all year round.


Iquitos has become important in the shipment of lumber
Lumber or timber is wood in any of its stages from felling through readiness for use as structural material for construction, or wood pulp for paper production....

 from the Amazon Rainforest
Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest , also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America...

 to the outside world. Other industries include oil, rum and beer
Beer is the world's most widely consumed andprobably oldest alcoholic beverage; it is the third most popular drink overall, after water and tea. It is produced by the brewing and fermentation of sugars, mainly derived from malted cereal grains, most commonly malted barley and malted wheat...

 and camu-camu cultivation. Camu-camu fruit contain 45% more vitamin C
Vitamin C
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid or L-ascorbate is an essential nutrient for humans and certain other animal species. In living organisms ascorbate acts as an antioxidant by protecting the body against oxidative stress...

 than orange
Orange (fruit)
An orange—specifically, the sweet orange—is the citrus Citrus × sinensis and its fruit. It is the most commonly grown tree fruit in the world....


The city offers modern amenities for the residents and tourists in the area. It attracts people wanting to learn more about the Amazon Basin and indigenous culture, among others.


Iquitos is home to numerous research projects on ecology related to ornithology
Ornithology is a branch of zoology that concerns the study of birds. Several aspects of ornithology differ from related disciplines, due partly to the high visibility and the aesthetic appeal of birds...

 and herpetology
Herpetology is the branch of zoology concerned with the study of amphibians and reptiles...

. Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

 owns a field station dubbed the Cornell University Esbaran Amazon Field Laboratory. Founded in July 2001 under the direction of Dr. Eloy Rodriguez
Eloy Rodriguez
Eloy Rodriguez is a Mexican-American biochemist. He is the James Perkins Professor of Environmental Studies at Cornell University. He was born in Edinburg, Texas....

, the facility is dedicated to education, conservation
Conservation biology
Conservation biology is the scientific study of the nature and status of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction...

, and the discovery of novel medicinal compounds from applied field chemoecology.

The field lab strives to survey and catalog the biological diversity found along the Yarapa River
Yarapa River
The Yarapa River is located in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. The area is the subject of scientific research, as well as being a tourist destination.The river is home to many crocodiles....

 Basin. It provides researchers with field experience in the broad range of disciplines necessary for this task. Another major goal is to explore 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 less tangible goods, such as the promotion of ecotourism
Ecotourism is a form of tourism visiting fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas, intended as a low impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism...

 and an ecological ethic. They work to ensure benefits to the local communities, and to participating students and researchers.


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

Iquitos has a growing reputation as a tourist destination, especially as a base for tours of the Amazon rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

 and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve
Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve
Pacaya–Samiria National Reserve is one of the largest protected areas in Peru with an area of more than km², containing a rich eco diversity and being the largest reserve in the country and the second largest in the Amazon region. The reserve is triangular shaped by Marañon and Ucayali River in...

. Other tourists travel downriver to Manaus
Manaus is a city in Brazil, the capital of the state of Amazonas. It is situated at the confluence of the Negro and Solimões rivers. It is the most populous city of Amazonas, according to the statistics of Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, and is a popular ecotourist destination....

, Brazil, the other rubber-industry city in the interior of the Amazon basin, and finally the Atlantic Ocean, which is 3360 km (2,088 mi) away.

A boat tour of Belén is a common tourist attraction. Belén is a community east of Iquitos that can be accessed by foot and moto-carro, both in the dry and wet seasons. Many of the homes are tethered to large poles, from which they float upon the river's rising waters every year; 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. Belén's open-air market is also a tourist attraction. Most notable is the medicine lane, Pasaje Paquito, an entire block lined with vendors of local plant (and animal) medicines, who stock everything from copaiba
Copaiba is a stimulant oleoresin obtained from the trunk of several pinnate-leaved South American leguminous trees . The thick, transparent exudate varies in color from light gold to dark brown, depending on the ratio of resin to essential oil...

to chuchuwasai.

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

Ayahuasca is any of various psychoactive infusions or decoctions prepared from the Banisteriopsis spp. vine, usually mixed with the leaves of dimethyltryptamine-containing species of shrubs from the Psychotria genus...

 tourism has increased in Iquitos in recent years. Some Westerners seek traditional shamanic experiences by using the visionary Amazonian medicinal tea. Although some reputable curandero
A curandero or curandeiro is a traditional folk healer or shaman in Latin America, who is dedicated to curing physical or spiritual illnesses. The role of a curandero or curandera can also incorporate the roles of psychiatrist along with that of doctor and healer. Many curanderos use Catholic...

who can provide a safe context for such experiences, others do not have the specialised training or skills. Tourists are advised to use caution in such pursuits.

Iquitos is served by Crnl. FAP Francisco Secada Vignetta International Airport
Crnl. FAP Francisco Secada Vignetta International Airport
Coronel FAP Francisco Secada Vignetta International Airport is an airport serving Peru's fifth largest city, Iquitos. It and Pucallpa's Captain Rolden International Airport are the main air hubs in the Peruvian Amazon....



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
Colegio Nacional de Iquitos
Colegio Nacional Iquitos is a Peruvian football team based in the city of Iquitos which was founded in 1926. CNI is the biggest club in the city of Iquitos and currently plays in the Peruvian Primera División, which is the top flight of Peruvian football....

 is a football team based in Iquitos. In 2005 the city's football community received the FIFA Fair Play Award
FIFA Fair Play Award
The FIFA Fair Play Award is a FIFA recognition of good or sporting behaviour or other actions by people or bodies involved in :association football around the world. First awarded in 1987, it has been presented to individuals , teams, fans, spectators, football associations/federations and even...

 as a result of being one of the five host cities for the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship
2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship
The 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship was held in the cities of Lima, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Piura and Iquitos in Peru between 16 September and 2 October 2005. Players born after 1 January 1988 could participate in this tournament...



The Juane, is one of the main dishes of cuisine of the Peruvian jungle. It is widely consumed during the Catholic Feast of San Juan (St. John), held on 24 June each year. The dish was named in honor of San Juan Bautista. The dish could have a pre-Columbian
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

 origin. With the arrival of the Spanish, missionaries popularized the Biblical story of Salome
Salome , the Daughter of Herodias , is known from the New Testament...

, John
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

 and Herodias
Herodias was a Jewish princess of the Herodian Dynasty. Asteroid 546 Herodias is named after her.-Family relationships:*Daughter of Aristobulus IV...

. Some believe the dish's name comes from the reference to the head of San Juan.

A popular dish is Tacacho. Tacacho is made from sliced plaintain,which is fried,then mashed with chicharones (fried pork fat). It usually accompanied with chorizo (fried sausage) making it a savory combination. The dish is typical of Iquitos as well as the Peruvian Amazon. It is widespread in the rest of the country. The term tacacho derives from the Quechua
Quechua languages
Quechua is a Native South American language family and dialect cluster spoken primarily in the Andes of South America, derived from an original common ancestor language, Proto-Quechua. It is the most widely spoken language family of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, with a total of probably...

 term, taka chu, which means beaten. Tacacho consumption varies depending on the region where it is made. In Madre de Dios and San Martin, many people eat tacachos for breakfast, while in other regions, it is a dish served at lunch or dinner. In the San Martín region, tacacho is included in the Christmas dinner. In the Amazon region of Ecuador, the dish is known as bolon. It has a counterpart in the Caribbean islands, where it is called mofongo.

In popular culture

  • The movie Fitzcarraldo
    Fitzcarraldo is a 1982 film written and directed by Werner Herzog and starring Klaus Kinski as the title character. It portrays would-be rubber baron Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, an Irishman known as Fitzcarraldo in Peru, who has to pull a steamship over a steep hill in order to access a rich rubber...

    (1982) was filmed near Iquitos. The film was inspired by the real life rubber baron Carlos Fitzcarrald
    Carlos Fitzcarrald
    Carlos Fermín Fitzcarrald was a Peruvian rubber baron from the city of Iquitos. He was of mixed Irish-American and Peruvian descent and he served as an inspiration for Werner Herzog's film Fitzcarraldo. Today the Carlos Fermín Fitzcarrald Province is named after him.-References:...


Notable people from Iquitos

  • Clotilde Arias
    Clotilde Arias
    Lyricist and composer Clotilde Arias was born in Iquitos, Perú, on the shores of the Amazon, and went to the USA in 1923 to study music and with aspirations of a promising future. She is most known for her composition of the song Huiracocha, popular in Peru and sung worldwide, and her translation...

    , State Department authorized translation of the Star Spangled Banner presently exhibited at the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of American History (1901-1959)
  • César Calvo de Araujo
    César Calvo de Araujo
    César Calvo de Araujo was a Peruvian writer and painter. He was born in Yurimaguas, Loreto, Peru in 1910 and died in Lima in 1970. A street and an art gallery in Iquitos are named after him.-Paintings:...

    , writer and painter, born in Yurimaguas
    Yurimaguas is a thriving port-town in the Loreto Region of northeastern Peruvian Amazonia. Historically associated with Maynas Pais de los Maynas, the culturally diverse town is affectionately known as the "Pearl of the Huallaga"...

     near Iquitos (1910–1970).
  • Carlos Fitzcarrald
    Carlos Fitzcarrald
    Carlos Fermín Fitzcarrald was a Peruvian rubber baron from the city of Iquitos. He was of mixed Irish-American and Peruvian descent and he served as an inspiration for Werner Herzog's film Fitzcarraldo. Today the Carlos Fermín Fitzcarrald Province is named after him.-References:...

    , entrepreneur and rubber baron active in Iquitos (1862–1897).
  • Ofelia Montesco
    Ofelia Montesco
    Ofelia Montesco was a Peruvian actress remembered for her participation in Mexican cinema, most notably in low-budget western films. She portrayed Eugénie de Montijo in the 1972 historical telenovela El carruaje.-Selected filmography:*1962: Santo vs...

    , actress renowned for her participation in Mexican cinema (1936-1983).

See also

  • Iperu, tourist information and assistance
    Iperu, tourist information and assistance
    Iperú, Tourist Information and Assistance, or simply iperú is the free tourism office provided by the Peruvian government through the Commission for the Promotion of Export and Tourism Peru and the National Institute for Defense Competition and Protection of...

  • Tourism in Peru
    Tourism in Peru
    Tourism in Peru make up the nation's third largest industry, behind fishing and mining. Tourism is directed towards archeological monuments, ecotourism in the Peruvian Amazon, cultural tourism in colonial cities, gastronomic tourism, adventure tourism, and beach tourism. According to a Peruvian...

  • Punchana
    Punchana is the capital of the Punchana District in the Maynas Province of the Loreto Region in northeastern Peru, in the Peruvian Amazon Jungle. It is a neighborhood on the outskirts of the city of Iquitos, located on the Amazon and the Nanay Rivers....

  • Loreto Region
    Loreto Region
    Loreto is Peru's northernmost region. Covering almost one-third of Peru's territory, Loreto is by far the nation's largest region and also one of the most sparsely populated ones, due to its remote location in the Amazon Rainforest...

  • Peruvian Amazon
    Peruvian Amazon
    The Peruvian Amazon is the area of the Amazon jungle included in the territory of Peru, from the east of the Andes to borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia. This region comprises 60% of the country and is marked by a large degree of biodiversity...

  • Rainforest
    Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

  • Tapiche Ohara's Reserve
    Tapiche Ohara's Reserve
    The 1,540 hectare Reserve, accessible only by waterway, is located 340 km up river from Iquitos on the Tapiche River. The Reserve comprises several types of lowland Amazonian forests, including igapo, varzea, and terra firme...

External links

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