Earth & Conservation

The Brutal History of Exploration in the Amazon

For centuries, the West has been fascinated with this part of the world, but has only recently started treating it with respect

It's estimated that 10 percent of all living species are in the Amazonian region. It's one of the most beautiful regions of the planet -- teeming with animals, exotic plants, incessant rain, and brutal weather. The name "Green Hell" has been thrown around by those who have trekked through the dense jungle. Explorers from the West have long be lured to this part of South America, following legends of magical kingdoms and the like. As history unfolded, the Amazon was exploited by Western powers. These explorers brought rampant disease and exploited the land for sugar cane plantations. More recently, though, the West's treatment of the Amazon has shifted toward natural conservation and the recognition of indigenous, autonomous communities within the jungle.