In order for a forest to qualify as a rainforest, it must receive an annual rainfall of at least 68 inches. Rainforests are home to a large part of the world's plant and animal species, and many remain unexplored, but rainforests only cover about about 5 percent of the earth. Many countries with rainforest climates have attempted to draw more tourism to these lush habitats by building national monuments or establishing national landmarks.
Born from the rubber boom, the city of Manaus sits in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. This "Paris of the Jungle" is home to several attractions, both natural and man-made. The Teatro Amazonas is a significant neoclassical monument that testifies to the great wealth of the area during the rubber boom. It sports imported marble and chandeliers, though the wood is Brazilian. The Meeting of the Waters is a natural landmark and popular tourist attraction; it is the point where the dark waters of the Rio Negro meet the light brown waters of the Rio Solimoe. Other notable Brazilian rainforest landmarks include the 9,000-acre Lago Janauary eco-park, the opulent Roman-style Basílica de Nossa Senhora de Nazaré and the Memorial Coluna Prestes, which honors Captain Luis Carlos Prestes for leading a march against Brazil's dictatorship in 1924.
Samoa is a set of islands in the Southern Pacific, a few thousand miles east of Australia, near Fiji. Aside from its pristine beaches, Samoa offers two primary monuments: the house of Robert Louis Stevenson and the Pulemelei Pyramid. During his last years, Stevenson -- the author of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" -- built a house in the rainforest on Samoa. He lived there for five years, and it is now a museum. The mysterious Tia Seu Ancient Mound, or Pulemelei Pyramid, is the largest ancient structure in Polynesia. It is not known why this structure was built, or even who built it.
In the 1980s, Belize began taking a keen interest in preserving its environment. It first founded Half Moon Caye National Monument, a 44-acre reserve which serves as a nesting ground for the red-footed booby, among many other species. Another set of important landmarks in the Belize rainforest are the Mayan ruins. Belize was the center of Mayan civilization, which flourished from 300 BC to 900 AD. Some of the most famous Mayan sites include Caracol, Xunantunich, El Pilar and Cahal Pech.
Venezuela is home to many national monuments and natural landmarks in its extensive rainforest. The most famous landmark is Angel Falls, or Salto Angel, which is the tallest waterfall in the world. Venezuela is also home to several caves, including the Guácharo Cave, which holds the largest known colony of guácharos, and Cueva Alfredo Jahn, which honors the famous scientist and is the second largest in the country. One of Venezuela's features are its tepuis -- table-mountains with large sinkholes. Most tepuis do not have forested tops, but the Sarisariñama tepui does.
- Photo Credit rainforest image by Egor Ukoloff from Fotolia.com
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