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Timeline of Amazon history - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 21/06/10 10:55 AM

Timeline of Amazon history

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Amazon History dates back to some 8000 years ago, when Man first reached the region
(Roosevelt et al., 1996).

Here is a brief timeline of historical events in the Amazon River valley, from the time of
European discovery to 2005.

1492 – Christopher Columbus discovers the New World, some 14,000 to 40,000 years after
the Indians. In 1498, he enters the Orinoco River estuary, sees the mighty discharge from
the river mouth, and finally admits that he has a continent on his hands.

1494 – Treaty of Tordesillas divides the world into Spanish and Portuguese territories.
South America falls almost entirely to Spain. The line runs N-S some 100 km E of Belém,

1500 – Vicente Yáñez Pinzón sails into the Amazon estuary.

1500 - Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral, en route to the Orient, discovers Brazil,
landing in Bahia.

1539-1542 – First descent of the Amazon by Francisco de Orellana (1501-1550) from Quito,
Ecuador, via the Rio Napo to the Atlantic Ocean. He fights Indian women he calls
"Amazons." The name sticks to the river. Expedition chronicled by friar Gaspar de Carvajal.

1560-1561 – Second descent of the Amazon, this time by the conquistador Lope de Aguirre.

1570-1600 – Jesuit missions are widely established in the Amazon. Indians relocated and

1595 – Sir Walter Raleigh leads expedition to colonize the Orinoco River for the English. In
1616, he settles for Trinidad.

1616 – Founding of Santa Maria do Grão Pará de Belém, Brazil, to mark Portuguese
presence. The French, English, and even Irish try to colonize the region.

1637-1639 – Pedro Teixeira leads the first European expedition up the Amazon from Belém
to Quito, arriving unexpected.

1726 – Francisco Xavier de Moraes, ascending the Rio Negro, discovers the Casiquiare canal
to the Orinoco.

1736 – Charles Marie de La Condamine sends first rubber sample to Europe from his
Amazon expedition.
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1750 – Treaty of Madrid fixes boundaries between the Spanish and Portuguese empires in
South America. Portuguese possession of areas west of the Tordesillas line is recognized,
based on occupation.

1759 – Jesuits are expelled from Brazil by the Marquis of Pombal. Indians left without

1799 – Alexander von Humboldt explores the Orinoco and proves the link via the
Casiquiare canal to the Rio Negro. Humboldt refused permission to enter Brazil.

1808-1825 – Spanish rule in South America ends with revolutions lead by Simón Bolívar of
Venezuela, San Martín of Argentina, and O'Higgins of Chile. In 1808 the Portuguese royal
family arrives in Brazil escaping the Napoleon's invasion of Portugal.

1818-1820 – Spix and Martius on expedition in the Amazon.

1822 – Brazil proclaims its independence under Dom Pedro I of Brazil.

1823 – Charles Macintosh invents waterproof rubber cape. (Amazon Indians, users of
rubber waterproof bags for centuries, get no credit.)

1826-1828 – Baron von Langsdorff on expedition from Cuiabá to Belém, arriving with
sanity impaired.

1826-1828 – Cabanagem revolt in Belém and Manaus, with 40,000 fatalities.

1839 – Charles Goodyear invents vulcanization of rubber which becomes an important

component of the Industrial Revolution.

1839-1842 – Brothers Robert and Richard Schomburgk on expedition in northern Brazil.

1842 – Prince Adelbert of Prussia and Count von Bismarck on the Xingu River.

1846 – François Louis de la Porte, comte de Castelnau on the Araguaia and Tocantins

1848-1859 – Henry Walter Bates and Alfred Russel Wallace in the Amazon. (Wallace leaves
in 1852.)

1849–1864 – Spruce, of cinchona fame, in the Amazon. He gets the quinine tree seeds in

1850 – Manaus is new capital of Amazonas province.

1850–1915 – Rubber boom sucks tens of thousands of immigrants into the Amazon, mostly
from the drought-stricken northeast of Brazil. Read the book White Gold to get the story
from the rubber-tapper's point of view. Another good volume is Jungle by Ferreira de

1851-1852 – Lieutenant William Lewis Herndon (U.S. Navy) on the Amazon to Belém.

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1851-1852 – Lieutenant Lardner Gibbon (U.S. Navy) also on the Amazon.

1858 – Peru gains rights to navigation on the Amazon River.

1865–1866 – Biologist Alexander Agassiz and geologist Charles Hartt on expedition in the

1866 – Founding of the Goeldi Museum of Natural History in Belém by Domingos Soares
Ferreira Penna and others. Agassiz had given stimulus to this when he was in the Amazon.

1867 – Amazon River opened to international shipping.

1867 – Confederate expatriates settle in Santarém, after U.S. Civil War.

1876 – Henry Wickham takes some 70,000 rubber tree seeds to Kew Gardens in England.

1888 – Dunlop invents the rubber tube tire.

1895 – International arbitration forces Venezuela to cede large area still disputed with

1895–1899 – Henri Coudreau explores Amazon waterways of Pará.

1897 – Manaus' Teatro Amazonas (opera house) opens. Rubber booming.

1899–1903 – Acre proclaims itself independent of Bolivia. In 1901, Bolivia cedes rights to
Acre to New York rubber syndicate. In 1903, Acre becomes Brazilian by the Treaty of
Petrópolis, in which Bolivia is promised a railroad link to the Madeira River at Porto Velho.

1907 – Madeira-Mamoré railroad is built by Americans under Percival Farquar. Colonel

Church's attempts in 1870–1881 are best called disasters made heroic by tragedy.

1908-1911 – Henry Ford, then the richest person in the world, invests in Amazon rubber
plantations on the Tapajós River.

1908-1911 – Arana's rubber company on the Putamayo River is denounced for atrocities
against Indians. English parliamentary inquiry in 1910. (Arana dies in 1952 in Lima after
serving as Peruvian senator.) (Read the book The River that God Forgot.)

1912 – Rubber from Malaysia exceeds that coming out of the Amazon.

1913 – Former US president Theodore Roosevelt and Brazilian Field Marshall Cândido
Rondon on Amazon expedition down the River of Doubt (now the Roosevelt River)
(Roosevelt, 1919).

1914 – Rubber boom bursts with beginning of World War I.

1922 – Salomón-Lozano Treaty awards Leticia to Colombia, as an outlet to the Amazon

River. In 1933, Peru seizes Leticia but backs down under international pressure, and in 1935
Leticia is reoccupied by Colombia.

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1925 – Colonel Percy H. Fawcett vanishes near the headwaters of the Xingu River. His
eyeglasses are later found among the Kayapó Indians of the Xingu River valley.

1942 – Brazil enters World War II. Demand is high for Amazon rubber. Brazil launches the
ill-fated "Rubber Soldier" program.

1947 – Cerro Bolívar, iron ore deposit south of Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, is found and
estimated at half a billion tons of high-grade ore. Puerto Ordaz is selected in 1953 as site for
steel mill and huge hydroelectric plant.

1960 – Brasilia, as new capital of Brazil, is founded.

1962 – Belém-Brasília Highway opens as first major all-year Amazon highway, linking
Amazon River port city of Belém with the rest of Brazil.

1964 – Military coup in Brazil puts democracy on hold for a generation. Economic miracle

1967 – Iron ore deposit at Serra dos Carajás is discovered in the eastern Brazilian Amazon.
High quality ore (66% iron) is estimated at 18 billion tons.

1967–1983 – American businessman Daniel K. Ludwig invests heavily in Jari wood pulp
and lumber plantation. His losses would amount to over 500 million dollars.

1970 – Trans-Amazonian Highway project begins. Total costs would top one billion dollars.
To this day (2008), the highway is impassable between Itaituba and Humaitá, and it ends
short of the Peruvian border.

1972 – Trans-Amazon highway opens from Imperatriz, Maranhão to the Tapajós River.

1974 – Manaus-Porto Velho highway opens.

1980 – Gold deposit at Serra Pelada is discovered. By 1986, an estimated 42 tons of gold are
extracted from giant pit mine. Amazon gold rush is in full swing. In 1987 striking gold
miners would be machine-gunned when they seize the railroad bridge at Marabá.

1984 – Tucuruí hydroelectric dam floods the lower Tocantins River valley.

1988 – New Brazilian federal constitution goes into effect, with many social and
environmental guarantees.

1988 – First Amazon Indian congress is held at Altamira, Brazil, to protest the proposed
construction of hydroelectric dams on the Xingu River.

1988 – Rubber-tapper Chico Mendes is murdered on December 22, in Xapuri, Acre. Two
years later (December 1990), his accused killers, Darly Alves da Silva and his son Darci, are
brought to trial and sentenced. (They escaped in 1993 and were later recaptured.)

1992 – Brazil hosts UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The US, under President Bush, is
made to appear the enemy because of refusal to sign the Biodiversity Treaty. (The US would

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belatedly sign the same, weak treaty under President Clinton.)

1996 –
Renewed military presence seen in the Amazon region of Brazil, as a result of radar
project and militarization of the borders against drug traffic (at US behest?). Secret
project SIVAM is revealed.
On April 17, 1996, 19 landless farmers of the MST movement ("Movimento dos
Trabalhadores Sem Terra") are shot by police at the "S" curve of highway PA-150 at
Eldorado de Carajás, in Pará state. These people were part of a demonstration calling
for the federal disappropriation of an unproductive ranch where the MST had
mounted a camp called "Macaxeira" with almost 3000 families.

2005 –
On February 12, 2005, American missionary Dorothy Stang (73 years of age) is gunned
down in Anapu, Pará.
Worst drought in 50 years hits the western Amazon Basin. Lakes and streams dry and
massive fish mortality takes place. Turtle beaches are sacked by hungry residents.

2007 –
The Brazilian government announces the Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento to
construct dams on the Madeira, Xingú, and Tapajós rivers, to go ahead with the
polemical highway BR-319, and to expand petroleum and natural gas extraction in the
Solimões basin.

2008 –
Second Amazon Indian congress is held at Altamira, Brazil, to again protest the newly
proposed Belo Monte dams on the Xingú River. [1]
Former Minister of the Environment Marina Silva leaves her ministerial post and
returns to the Senate, citing struggles with vested interests as an obstacle to
conservation policy in Amazônia.

2009 –
The World Social Forum takes place in Belém do Pará, Brazil, drawing attention to the
ecological crises facing the Amazon.

1. ^ http://internationalrivers.org/en/indigenous/em-defesa-da-vida-e-do-rio-xingu

Papavero, N., Teixeira, D. M., Overal, W. L., & Pugol-Luz, J. R. (2000). O Novo Éden: a
fauna da Amazônia brasileira nos relatos de viajantes e cronistas desde a Descobrimento
do rio Amazonas por Pinzón (1500) até o Tratado de Santo Ildefonso (1777) . Belém:
Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi.
Roosevelt, A. C., Lima da Costa, M., Lopes Machado, C., Michab, M., Mercier, N., Valladas,
H., et al. (1996). Paleoindian cave dwellers in the Amazon: The peopling of the Americas.
Science, 373-384.
Roosevelt, T. (1919). Through the Brazilian wilderness . New York: Charles Schribner's

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