Located on an ecological reserve of 182,000 hectares (450,000 acres) of virgin forest approximately 500 km (310 miles) and 40 hours by boat north of the city of Manaus, Xixuau (pronounced "sheesh-shu-ah-u") is a naturalist's delight. It is a favorite jaunt for researchers, film-makers and eco-tourists who come from all over the world because of the abundance and visibility of fauna that is unique to the Amazon.
Situated almost exactly on the equator, the seasons in the region are defined by high water during the months of March to September and low water from October to February. During the high-water season, the area is characterized by vast tracts of igapo (flooded forest), and the low water season presents immense, sandy beaches and extreme concentrations of aquatic life. Travel to this reserve site is by regional boat, in which outboards are used along the main river and at the entrance to the reserve. All movements inside the reserve are by paddle canoe and on foot through the forest.
History and People
Although people have lived and hunted in the region for thousands of years, it was only settled by non-indigenous people starting in the mid- to late-1960s.
The government encouraged new settlers to move to the Amazon as a way of reducing social pressure in the cities in a country with an ever-increasing mass of poverty-stricken.
Tens of thousands of colonists moved throughout the Amazon each year in the 1970's and into the 1990s to claim small parcels of land and to carve out what became a meager existence for most.
In February, 1992, the inhabitants of Xixuau, with the help of Scottish environmentalist Christopher Clark, established the Xixuau Reserve, a protected forest reserve, recognized by the government, which now covers 450,000 acres.
They also established the Associação Amazônia, a community association charged with administering the new reserve and the community of Xixuau. The association purchased rights to the land and allows the residents to live, hunt, fish, and conduct small scale farming there, so long as they protect the environment. Most inhabitants are caboclos, descendents of the mixing of indigenous people with European settlers and blacks brought from Africa as slaves.
Demographics at a glance
|Population||22 families, approximately 90 inhabitants|
|Water System||Well piped to most houses|
Basic Education (4th grade)
|Electricity||12 kva diesel generator to run equipment in the health post, inhalers, scientist studio, sterilization machine, etc., lighting in the houses, a few refrigerators and for the craftwork drills and sanding machines. Solar panels will run the office and internet linkup and a solar fridge.|
|Other significant infrastructure||Solar-powered Telecenter with 3 laptops and internet connection|
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