A photographic record of Iquitos, Peru - past and present.
History of Iquitos
Iquitos, located on the Amazon River in northeastern Peru, was originally one of the numerous Indian settlements organized by the Jesuit missionaries in the 16th century, and was known as San Pablo de Napeanos. Its population dispersed, but a community was re-established around 1760. Since the majority of the population were Iquitos Indians it became known as the village of Iquitos. In 1864, three years after President Ramón Castilla had established the Departamento de Loreto (State of Loreto) port facilities were built and this is generally considered as the founding date of Iquitos. Iquitos is the furthest inland deep-water port in the world and receives ships coming up 2300 miles from the mouth of the Amazon on the Atlantic Ocean. To this day there are no roads in or out and Iquitos can only be reached by river or air. At the end of the nineteenth century Iquitos, along with Manaus, Brazil, prospered greatly from the exportation of rubber. During this period of grandeur many fine buildings were erected, including the “Iron House” designed by Gustav Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame, which was purchased at the Paris World’s Fair by a rubber baron, disassembled and brought to Iquitos where it was re-assembled in 1886 and still stands on the Plaza de Armas. The center piece of the Plaza de Armas, the Iquitos cathedral,was completed in 1911. The Hotel Palacios was built between 1908-1912 and is one of many buildings faced with ceramic tiles imported from Italy and Portugal. With the end of the Rubber Boom, around 1910, Iquitos fell into a deep decline and it wasn’t until the discovery of oil in the mid-twentieth century that Iquitos began to prosper again. Today Iquitos has a population around 400,000 and depends on exports of oil, wood, plant products and tourism. Photos by Scott Humfeld (other than B&W and where noted. B&W photos courtesy of Sr. Serafin Otero, ex-Director of Tourism for Iquitos.)