As indigenous ethnic groups sailed by in barges decorated with motifs representing their traditions, the Amazon was officially inaugurated as one of the New7Wonders of Nature in the Peruvian rainforest city of Iquitos yesterday.
The specially-commissioned bronze plaque commemorating listing the Amazon in the “canon of seven” was jointly unveiled by Ollanta Humala, President of Peru and Bernard Weber, Founder-President of New7Wonders. Among the many dignitaries present were Iván Vásquez Valera, president of Loreto, the Amazonian region of which Iquitos is the capital, and representatives from the host nations of the other Wonders of Nature.
Describing the occasion as “a historic day”, Bernard Weber said that “the Amazon is now part of the Global Memory of seven places that all people on Earth will remember and preserve for future generations.”
In his speech, President Humala declared that he would ask the Peruvian Congress to approve the funding of a “museum of the Amazon” and he promised more aid for the Loreto region. “We treasure this natural wonder and we are committed to making it available to the world,” he said. “People come from everywhere to visit our Amazon and we will receive them here as brothers, with the warmth of Loreto, with the joy of this earth,” he added.
The German newspaper, Die Zeit, highlighted the Amazon inauguration with a panoramic photo of the river and the caption “Peru: Anwohner feiern auf Booten die Ernennung des Amazonas zu einem der sieben Weltnaturwunder.” (Peru: Residents celebrate on boats as the Amazon is named one of the New7Wonders of Nature).
Special recognition was given during the ceremonies to representatives of indigenous peoples for whom the Amazon is the source of life and cradle of culture. Many indigenous people, such as the Aguaruna, Cocama-Cocamilla and the Urarina groups, inhabit the Peruvian rainforest, some in relative isolation from the rest of the world.
The inauguration ceremony in Iquitos ended with the setting of the sun, but celebrations continued in the central square of the city and culminated with music and fireworks. The festivities now move to the capital of Peru, Lima, where a second plaque commemorating the election of the Amazon as one of the New7Wonders of Nature will be unveiled.