Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest and the fifth-largest city of Peru. It is also the capital city of the Loreto Region and Maynas Province. Located in the Amazon Basin, the city is along the Amazon, Nanay and Itaya rivers. Its name in Iquito language translates to the people. The city proper with its four districts has a population of 422,055; 462,783 live within the Iquitos Metropolitan Area, making it in the sixth-largest metropolitan area of the country. The official city nickname is Capital of the Peruvian Amazon.
During the early 20th-century rubber boom, it attracted many European immigrants; they contributed to a period of wealth and great social and commercial development that resulted in its unique urban and cultural identity. The city originally was developed from an Indian Reduction developed by Jesuit missionaries along the Nanay river circa 1757 with the name San Pablo de Napeanos. The town was inhabited by the Napeanos and Iquito people. At the present time, the city has became a destination in the Peruvian Amazon, due to historic architecture, cuisine, landscapes, accent, nightlife and diverse cultural movement. It is a cosmopolitan city with strong Amazonia roots.
Downtown Iquitos is considered the starting point for the city tour. The Belén Market is described as the largest traditional market in the Peruvian Amazon. Several neighborhoods and landmarks of Iquitos are prized for their Amazonian, European, and bohemian atmosphere. Over 250,000 visitors came to Iquitos in 2012, a number that is expected to rise since the ranking of the Amazon River as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. In 2012 Iquitos inaugurated international flights with the major hub in Panama City, with shared destination to Miami and Cancun. The city was included, as number 6, on the list of “top 10 cities for 2011” by Lonely Planet.
The city can be reached only by airplane or boat, with the exception of a road to Nauta, a small town roughly 100 km (62 mi) south. It is the largest city in the world that is inaccessible by road. Ocean vessels of 3,000 to 9,000 tons and 5.5 metres (18 ft) draft can reach Iquitos from the Atlantic Ocean, 3600 km away. Most people travel within the city via bus, motorcycle, or the ubiquitous auto rickshaw (mototaxi, motocarro or motocar). It is a modified motorcycle with a cabin behind supported by two wheels, seating three. Transportation to nearby towns often requires a river trip via pequepeque, a small public motorized boat.
Iquitos is located in northeastern Peru, northeastern Loreto Region, and in the extreme south of the Province of Maynas. Located on the Great Plains, the city has an area of 368.9 km ² (142.4 mi ²), comprising the districts Belen, Punchana and San Juan Bautista. It is approximately at coordinates 03 ° 43’46 “S 73 ° 14’18” W to 106 meters. It is the most northern Peruvian city.
It is surrounded by the Port of Iquitos, formed by the Amazon, Nanay and Itaya rivers. It is situated on the left bank of the Amazon River, which provides a characteristic economic life, including trade and transport. The Itaya and Nanay rivers limit the physical expansion of the city in that direction; new development is growing toward the south and there is a slight population density in Downtown Iquitos. Close to Iquitos are a number of lagoons and lakes; Moronococha Lake is a boundary to the city on the west. These features make the city seem like a huge, faux river island.
Geologically, the city is settled in a Tertiary-Quaternary formation lithologically composed by little-consolidated lutites, with remains of flora or fauna, and numerous white-sand lenses of abundant silicon. The residual soils are sandy, almost clay-like and variably deep. Physiography, is a hazy landscape due to the undulations of the soil erosion caused by rain.
Tourism is one of the most vital industries in Iquitos, which has a growing reputation as a honeypot due to its location on the banks of the Amazon River, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Through the years, Iquitos receives a considerable amount of foreigners; the tourist index grew by international flights offered by the city’s airport. Tourism in the city formed into European-style architecture, cuisine, drinks, art, culture, worldview, Spanish accent and historical references of Loreto. Iquitos has adequate infrastructure to accommodate tourists from all levels. It has a 5-star hotel, many of 3-, 2-, and 1-star rating.
The major tourist attractions include Barrio de Belén, Plaza de Armas, Casa de Fierro, Ex Hotel Palace, Iglesia Matriz de Iquitos, Allpahuayo Mishana; Embarcadero Bellavista-Nanay, ethnic communities located around the city, Quistococha Resort and Zoo; Mercado Artesanal of San Juan. iperú is the leading tourist guide service that is offered to tourists at the airport and the city center of the city.
The city is also home to unique tourist companies as Maniti Camp Expeditions, Otorongo Expeditions, Amazon Golf Course, and Project Amazonas (dedicated to research and conservation). Special experiences outside the key tourist areas of the city include the Camiri —a floating hotel—, the Isla de los Monos, the Pilpintuwasi butterfly zoo, Iquitos-Zungarococha Corrientillos-King Kong-Nina Rumi circuit, and adjoining districts such as Mazán, Indiana and Bellavista. In 2010, Iquitos received about 150 thousand tourists. The following year, in 2011, the index fell to 46,000 tourist foreigners, which expects 10% rise rapidly in 2013 with international flights opened in July 2012 and the Amazon River as a natural wonder.