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The state of Amapá, north of the Amazon, is one of Brazil’s poorest and least populated regions. Traditionally it was dependent primarily on rubber exports, but manganese was discovered in the 1950s and this, together with timber and other minerals, is now the main source of income. A standard-gauge rail line links the mining camps to the northwest with Porto do Santana, near the capital Macapá, crossing the dry, semi-forested plains of the region en route. Amapá doesn’t have much going for it, other than as a transit route to French Guiana, and it suffers the most marked dry season in the Amazon, running from June to December, when it can get extremely hot. Macapá fights it out with Palmas in Tocantins for the title of dullest state capital in Brazil, but at least it’s cheap.

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