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Map of Acre, Brazil
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The State of Acre is almost entirely covered by the Amazon forest. With an area of about 150,000 km2, Acre is twice as big as Austria, and nearly the same size as Illinois. The name Acre derived from the indian word Aquiri, which would mean "river of caymans".
Half of the population lives in the capital, Rio Branco; this name means White River, a tribute to the Barão do Rio Branco, a Brazilian diplomat who in the early 1900s signed the Treaty of Petrópolis, by which Brazil and Bolívia agreed on the definitive borders. Other relevant cities are, by population, Cruzeiro do Sul and Sena Madureira; the city of Xapuri, despite of being small, became famous after environmentalist Chico Mendes was murdered there in 1988.
All large cities of Acre were built by the banks of rivers, which are the main means of transportation of the State; the access to smaller communities, distant from the large rivers, is via igapós, kind of small channels which connect the large rivers.
The Economy of Acre is based on cattle raising, agriculture and, mostly, extrativism of the rubber trees; these trees are called "seringueiras" in Portuguese, the people who do the hard work are called "seringueiros" (Chico Mendes was leader of a union of seringueiros), and the people who profit from the work are called "seringalistas". Marina Silva, the Minister of Environment (2004), was an ex-seringueira, who worked alongside Chico Mendes.
Acre is one of the most environment conscious States of Brazil; the idea of sustainable development is behind all the actions of the government. However, the State has been suffering from the action of timber smugglers and illegal farmers, who burn down the jungle to clear space for the cattle.
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