The rubber boom
From the 1890s to the 1920s rubber from the Peruvian jungle was in high demand, it was used to produce tires for automobiles, waterproof shoes and clothes.
Foreign companies settled in the city of Iquitos, Peru from where they controlled the extraction of rubber. In 1851 Iquitos had a population of 200 and by 1900 its population reached 20,000. In the 1860s, approximately 3,000 tons of rubber was being exported annually and by 1911 annual exports had grown to 44,000 tons, representing 9.3% of Peru’s exports.
Thousands of native Indians worked as rubber tappers, removing the sap from the trees. They worked in harsh slavery conditions and they were not paid fairly. They were also the victims of foreign diseases that killed about 40,000 native workers.
By the end of the 1920s rubber was being produced cheaper in Ceylon and India, English companies moved their production to these locations and abandoned the Peruvian Amazonian jungle bringing the rubber boom to an end. Hundreds of local families were plunged into poverty.
More than three quarters of the Peruvian territory lies east of the Andes. The jungle or Selva has two parts, the high and the low Selva.
Mining and oil extraction are very controversial economic activities as they bring wealth and economic development but pollute the environment.
In terms of volume, the Amazon is the largest river in the world, it contains one fifth of the earth’s fresh water.
The Amazon river is home to many species of animals and many of them are in danger of extinction. Some of them are the pink dolphin, the Amazonian manatee and the giant river otter.
Economic development is taking its toll among native Indians, many of them have fled deep inside the jungle, some have died of starvation and others have adapted to modern live.