Amazonia of yesterday and today Colonization and exploration
The occupation and settlement of the Amazon are the result of a long historical process that began with colonization and was marked by countless conflicts between indigenous peoples and explorers.
The way of life of the peoples of the Amazon, in the past, was based on forest collection, fishing and subsistence agriculture. The exploitation of natural resources was limited, providing for its permanent replacement. The ecosystem retained its basic characteristics, demographic densities were low and the economy was based on traditional techniques.
The exploitation of rubber was the main economic activity developed in the Amazon, between 1870 and 1910 (end of the Empire and beginning of the Republic). Brazil was the largest supplier of latex , extracted from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), native to the Amazon rainforest.
In the period between 1870 and 1910, the cities of Manaus and Belém had great growth, because they became a point of circulation for people, consumer products, construction material and rubber.
The area of greatest rubber production was located between Brazil and Bolivia, where around 500 thousand Brazilian rubber tappers, mainly from the Northeast, explored latex in the middle of the forest and many advanced over a large part of Bolivia.
According to recipesinthebox, with the installation of Brazilians in Bolivian territory, the government proposed the purchase of this area, paying part of it in cash and assuming the commitment to build the Madeira-Mamoré railway. Thus, Bolivia, a country that is not bathed by the sea, would have an exit to the Atlantic Ocean. The agreement was signed in 1903 and the area is the current state of Acre.
The territory of Acre was definitively incorporated into Brazil in 1904. The wealth of rubber drove Brazilians against Bolivians and Peruvians.
In addition to the growth of the Amazon, the exploitation of rubber contributed to increase the territorial area of Brazil.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the United Kingdom began to produce latex in Southeast Asia, through the cultivation of rubber trees, and Brazilian production went into decline. During the Second World War (1939-1945), the exploitation of rubber in the Amazon was reactivated to supply allied countries, because the traditional producing region, Southeast Asia, was in dispute for Japanese imperialism, one of the Axis countries.
Arch of Deforestation
Area mainly affected by fires that have occurred since the 1980s due to the expansion of new agricultural frontiers. Its length is 3 thousand km.
The federal government, from the 1960s, began to worry about the integration of the region into the national economy and to see the Amazon as a way to combat proposals for its internationalization. At no time was the government concerned with the preservation of the environment and the way of life of the indigenous peoples of the region, which caused environmental and social problems.
The modernization of the Amazon, in the last decades, by regional planning, was directed towards the exploitation of natural resources, mainly mining, and for the growth of agriculture and livestock. Migrants from all over Brazil, mainly from the Northeast and Center-South , continue to go to the Amazon, causing rapid urbanization, intense deforestation and water contamination with the use of mercury in the areas of mining.
The traditional Amazon was famous for the rubber tapper ( rubber worker), the rubber tapper (owner of the rubber plantation) and the indigenous people, but today new characters are being added: squatters, land grabbers, pedestrians, businessmen, settlers, who participate in conflicts over land ownership. , deforestation and violence.
This modernization model is highly criticized, because the most important is the preservation of the ecosystem’s biodiversity.
The contrast between the natural wealth of the Amazon and the poverty of the majority of the population that lives there requires a new policy for the region, aimed at reconciling economic development, preserving the environment and improving the population’s living conditions.
The factors responsible for the occupation of the Amazon and its transformation are:
- the growth of Brazil’s population and economy;
- the creation of Sudam, responsible for the great increase in investments in the region;
- the increase in exports of certain products in the primary sector, iron, aluminum, gold, wood, animal skins, etc., the region’s natural wealth that goes to the foreign market;
- the expansion of the agricultural frontier.