Originally posted on Americas South and North:
The New York Times’ Simon Romero has an excellent piece up on the recent urban growth in the Amazonian region of Brazil.
The Amazon has been viewed for ages as a vast quilt of rain forest interspersed by remote river outposts. But the surging population growth of cities in the jungle is turning that rural vision on its head and alarming scientists, as an array of new industrial projects transforms the Amazon into Brazil’s fastest-growing region.
The torrid expansion of rain forest cities is visible in places like Parauapebas, which has changed in a generation from an obscure frontier settlement with gold miners and gunfights to a sprawling urban area with an air-conditioned shopping mall, gated communities and a dealership selling Chevy pickup trucks.
The growth rates in the region are rather astounding, even if the metropolitan areas are nowhere near as large as those of São Paulo (metro area of 20 million) or Rio de Janeiro (metro area of 12 million). Manaus, the largest region in the city and the seventh largest city in the country, grew 22% between 2000 and 2010, the highest growth rate of Brazil’s ten most populous cities (it now has around 1.7 million people); the region as a whole has seen its population grow to over 25 million people.