ISLANDIA, Peru – This small northeastern Peruvian town at the triple border with Colombia and Brazil has no Vikings or below-zero temperatures and instead compares itself to Venice due to its unique location in an often-inundated area of the Amazon rainforest.
Unlike the Nordic island country of Iceland, Islandia has a sweltering climate typical of the tropics and calls itself the “Venice of the Amazon Trapezium” because it is flooded most of the year, Mayor Juan Cayetano told EFE.
“I haven’t come across a floating city similar to this one that’s six months on water and another six months on land,” Cayetano said of the tourist town that is home to 2,300 Ticuna Indians known as “islanders.”
No gondolas can be found in Islandia, founded 74 years ago on an island near the point known as the three-way frontier, where the Javari River empties into the Amazon River (called the Solimoes River at that stretch).
But having a wooden canoe at the door of one’s home is frequently an indispensable item in that remote village, which has been attracting increasing numbers of tourists from Colombia (the southeastern Colombian city of Leticia is just a half-hour away by boat) who are interested in these people’s way of life and also drawn by the chance to spot an Amazon river dolphin, Cayetano said.
“Islandia is only missing a hospital,” its mayor said, noting that the small town has a market, a church, a shopping mall, a hotel, two schools, a police station and even a sports facility, all of which – like its rustic homes – have been erected on piles driven into the ground.