Puerto Ayacucho is the capital and largest city of Amazonas State in Venezuela. Puerto Ayacucho is located across the Orinoco River from the Colombian village of Casuarito. The city was founded to facilitate the transport of goods past the Atures Rapids on the Orinoco River in the late 19th century (mostly rubber). Now the economy is supported by both national and international tourism. Also based here is the Venezuelan army and navy, conducting a continuous low level campaign against incursions and drug-runners from nearby Colombia. The climate is equatorial and the surrounding rainforests are some of the worlds least explored and most untouched. The nearby forested mountains (Tepuis) contain some of the worlds least investigated micro systems. Two hundred kilometers to the south is one of the natural world's great wonders, the Casiquiare canal, a waterway that links South America's two greatest river systems, the Amazon and the Orinoco. This was first reported in the 17th century and explored in 1800 by naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, who commented on the recent extinction of the Aturès Indians for whom the Atures Rapids had been named. The water in the Casiquiare flows from the Orinoco River into the Rio Negro, tributary of the Amazon, though much more is gathered en route from numerous tributaries. Nowadays tourists can organise a trip along it from Puerto Ayacucho.
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