Casiquiare canal

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The Casiquiare river is a distributary of the upper Orinoco, which flows southward into the Rio Negro, in South America. As such, it forms a unique natural canal between the Orinoco and Amazon river systems. It is the largest river on the planet that links two major river systems, a so-called bifurcation. The area forms a water divide, more dramatically at regional flood stage.

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Discovery

In 1744 a Jesuit priest named Father Roman, while ascending the Orinoco River, met some Portuguese slave-traders from the settlements on the Rio Negro. He accompanied them on their return, by way of the Casiquiare canal, and afterwards retraced his route to the Orinoco. La Condamine, seven months later, was able to give to the Académie française an account of Father Roman's voyage, and thus confirm the existence of this waterway, first reported by Father Acuña in 1639.

But little credence was given to Father Roman's statement until it was verified, in 1756, by the Spanish Boundary-line Commission of Yturriaga and Solano. In 1800 German scientist Alexander von Humboldt and French botanist Aimé Bonpland explored the river. During the 1924-25 Alexander H. Rice, Jr. expedition of Harvard University, he traveled up the Orinoco, traversed the Casiquiare canal, and descended the Rio Branco to the Amazon at Manaus. It was the first expedition to use aerial photography and shortwave radio for mapping of the region. In 1968 the Casiquiare was navigated by an SRN6 hovercraft during a National Geographic expedition.[1]

Geography

The origin of Casiquiare, at the River Orinoco, is 9 miles (14 km) below the mission of La Esmeralda at 3°8′18.5″N 65°52′42.5″W / 3.138472°N 65.878472°W / 3.138472; -65.878472, and is about 123 metres (404 ft) above sea level. Its mouth at the Rio Negro, an affluent of the Amazon River, is near the town of San Carlos and is 91 metres (299 ft) above sea level.

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