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Amazonas - Brazil - Economy

Manaus is the only city in Amazonas where an industrial park has been developed.
In an attempt to foment progress (and diminish regional unequalities), a tax free zone was created in 1967, called Zona Franca de Manaus; products from this zone are exempt from several taxes, including importing and industrial taxes. Practically every major electronics appliance producer has a factory in Manaus (tv sets, cellular phones, dvds, etc).
Several criticisms (especially from the more industrialized States) have been voiced about the fact that most factories are just assembly lines (foreigner companies import all parts from sister companies abroad and just assembly them in Manaus), so defeating the purpose of creating jobs and technology, and giving an unfair advantage (at the cost of lost tax revenues) to the Zona Franca.
However, a recent (December 2003) Constitution ammendment extended the life of the Zona Franca for another ten years; this means that it will be a tax free area until at least 2003. Check out the site of SUFRAMA (Superintendência da Zona Franca de Manaus) - Superintendence of the Tax Free Zone of Manaus; versions in English and Spanish.

The exploration of natural resources is the main activity of most people.
Hunting and fishing are an important means of subsistence.
Among the legal cultures, rubber is still the most important product (the process is still manual, demanding plenty of manpower); there is a higher concentration of rubber trees around the rivers south of Amazon (Madeira, Purus and Juruá). Other important products obtained from the wild forest are castanha-do-pará and palmito (palm hearts).
In the banks of the Amazonas, to the east of river Purus, there is cultivation of some products, notably manioc, juta and guaraná (combined, these products overcome the rubber production).

Two illegal activities are growing in the Amazon area: timber and cattle.
The noblest trees of the Amazon forest are cut down and smuggled to foreigner (developed) countries.
The illegality in cattle raising is in the occupation of the land (official reserves are invaded) and in the way that the forest is burned down, to clear space for the animals (this activity is the main cause of the huge fires in the Amazon).
Despite efforts of IBAMA (the environment protection agency), Federal Police and Armed Forces, the grandness of Amazon makes it impossible to control all illegal activities.

Read also History of Amazonas

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