Human settlement has a long history in the Amazon. In the Amazon rainforest, large and sedentary communities of extraordinary sophistication existed, contrary to popular thought. These societies made ceramics, cleared rainforest for agriculture, and maintained forests to ensure the distribution of beneficial species was optimal. The idea of a virgin Amazon arose largely as a result of the demographic fall that occurred after Europeans arrived in the sixteenth century. According to studies, 11.8 percent of the Amazon’s terra firme forests are anthropogenic, owing to indigenous people’s careful control of biodiversity. These Amazonians, unlike those who use contemporary farming practices, were aware of the ecological realities of their environment thanks to millennia of experimentation, and they knew how to manage the jungle sustainably to meet their requirements. They recognized the need of preserving biodiversity by creating a mosaic of natural forests, open areas, and forest portions managed to be dominated by species of human interest. Many of these people lived beside whitewater rivers, where they had easy access to transportation, great fishing, and agriculturally fertile floodplain soils. However, because Europeans used the great rivers as highways to the interior, they were the first villages to be damaged when they arrived. The Amerindian population was decreased by 90% in the first century of European contact. The majority of the remaining peoples remained in the forest’s interior, either because Europeans pushed them there or because they had always lived there in tiny numbers. From Pizarro’s conquest of the Inca empire until the end of the Brazilian rubber boom around the start of World War I, the Spanish and Portuguese, with the blessing of popes, continued a long tradition of abuse against these people, which would be continued by colonists, rubber tappers, and land developers in the name of Catholicism.