extension and population
| Brief historic
Main attractions in the capital city |
Typical dishes and beverages |
EXTENSION AND POPULATION
The department of Loreto is located in the northern part of
the Peruvian Jungle. It limits to the north with Ecuador and
Colombia, to the south with Ucayali, to the east with Brazil,
and to the west with Amazonas and San Martín.
Iquitos, the most northerly department
in the country, takes in 30% of the national territory, and
comprises parts of the High and Low Jungle. The weather is
warm and humid with an average temperature of 17ºC (63ºF)
to 20ºC (68ºF) during the months of June and July,
and a highest up to 36ºC (97ºF) from the months
of December through March. Even if the weather is hot during
those months, that time of the year is conceived as winter.
The average humidity is 84%, with strong rains all year round.
Loreto has an extension of 348,177
km² (134,432 sq ml) and a population of over 650,000
The capital is Iquitos.
Other important cities are Requena, Contamana and Nauta.
The first settlers in the region
were grouped in small tribes that expanded in a very primitive
way through the various oriental slopes of the Andes. Many
of these tribes settled in the Purús, Turúa
and Yaraví river basins, receiving names different
from those of their lineage. They were merely family clans,
who adopted the name of their chief or curaca. During
Colonial times, up to 800 of these groups were detected.
It is hard to determine the number
of natives in the region when the first explorers and missionaries
arrived. Numbers given by chroniclers indicate that only in
the first century, 100,000 natives were baptized. Presumably,
when the Spanish arrived, they were almost 300,000. Later
on, however, they were seized by diseases acquired in the
contact with the Spanish, among others, smallpox, diphtheria,
malaria, yellow fever, and whooping cough.
On February 12, 1542 and after
a search of several months, Spanish conqueror Francisco de
Orellana discovered the Amazon river, an adventure that began
in the Sierra.
if the colonization had started several decades before, the
city of Iquitos was founded in the year 1864. It is well located
between the Nanay river and the left margin of the Amazon
river, which makes it an obliged starting point when traveling
to other regions.
During Colonial times, the Jesuits
and Franciscans evangelized and founded different towns. All
those years, they contributed by opening routes and cutting
down distances between tribes and villages.
When the missions fell, a long
period of ostracism followed, taking on most part of the nineteenth
century. Nonetheless, this was the time when the foundations
of the future political organization were being set. Also,
the time when the navigation on steamboats, the rubber heyday
and the foreign immigration was starting.
The Golden Age of Iquitos started
at the end of the last century with the rubber fever. Since
the region was very rich in this species and its price went
so high, it turned into the center of all looks and ambitions
in the world. This period lasted 25 years and gave way to
a gigantic development once the rubber fever passed.
ATTRACTIONS IN THE CAPITAL CITY
Parque de Quistococha.
This park has a zoo site with exotic animals and various species
Laguna de Moronacocha.
A lagoon with a paiche breeding center. The
paiche is a very big species of Amazon fish (one or
two meters long).
Amazonas, Itaya, Yarapa and
Manatí River Banks, in which several lodgings
have been built.
Nineteenth Century Mansions.
Sumptuous and exquisite, they display the opulence of
the rubber heyday. Most of these mansions are located in front
of the river sidewalk. Most outstanding among them is the
Casa de Hierro (Iron House), the so called first
prefabricated house in America. It was designed and constructed
by Gustave Eiffel, brought from Europe in parts (bolts and
nuts included), and assembled in the site in which it currently
Barrio de Belén,
also known as The Venice of the Jungle. This quarter
is located in the center of the city and built over the waters
of the Amazon river. Transportation must be done in canoes
or by swimming.
Cruise Services offer
navigating through the Amazon river for a whole week. These
cruises include visits to the cities of Leticia in Colombia
and Tabatinga in Brazil; walks into the Jungle; visits to
native settlements; and night excursions and fishing.
Ecotourism. The Amazon
region offers a great opportunity to enjoy this type of tourism.
It is the biggest and most assorted natural reserve in the
world. It houses no less than 25,000 species of plants already
classified; approximately 4,000 species of butterflies; and
2,000 species of fish.
Camping over the Sucusari
River. This is considered one of the most attractive
Ecotourism sites worldwide. It holds the first aerial corridor
in the continent, which offers visitors a privileged view
of the abounding fauna and flora. This wire-net corridor is
made of a hanging bridge 200 mt (656 ft) long, located at
30 mt (98 ft) high.
Reserva Nacional del Pacaya-Samiria.
This natural reserve is the biggest in the country, with
an extension of 21,000 km² (8,108 sq ml). It was created
to preserve the distinctive fauna and flora of this enormous
extension of Low Jungle territory. Access and guided visits
can be done setting off lodges located at a four-hour distance
by glider boat.
DISHES AND BEVERAGES
The typical dishes in Loreto are
very similar to those of other places in the Amazon region.
It is not strange then to see that they consider the motelo
or turtle meat soup or the juanes (rice tamales with
chicken or fish) as typical Loreto dishes. However, what is
strange to see is that vendors in the local markets offer
fried or steamed monkey or lizard meat that, according to
the local people, are exquisite.
Other typical dishes include,
cecina (pork, dried and smoked), the tacacho
(coal cooked bananas, pork, and chopped onions), the chonta
salad and the palometa (fish soup).
To drink they serve the mazato,
natural fruit juices, such as aguaje, maracuyá,
cocona, or a refreshing aguaje ice cream.
First Week on January. Anniversary
of Iquitos. Week-long festivities to celebrate the founding
of the city.
Third Week in February. Carnivals.
June 24. Fiesta de
San Juan. The local people go to the Nanay and Amazonas
river banks, taking with them the traditional juanes,
cooked on the eve. In front of the waters, they merrily drink
First Two Weeks in August.
A farm, livestock and crafts fair takes place in the small
town of Santa Clara de Nanay, at 14 km (7 ml) from the city
September 7. Señora
de la Natividad. Date in which the people Tamashiyacu,
in the province of Maynas, honor their patron.
December 8. Fiesta
de la Purísima, celebrated in the district of Punchana,
at 3 km (1.86 ml) from Iquitos.