Get to know Tefé

Our story is directly liked to Tefé, a city in the middle Solimões region. From here we make more distant journeys through the Amazon. Understanding Tefé also means getting to know a little more the Mamirauá Institute. This page is dedicated to the origins, culture and everyday Tefé residents.Let’s begin with the name. Do you know what the word “Tefé” means? The term has roots in nheengatu, the language most commonly spoken in Amazonia during colonial times, which means “profound.” Tefé was also called Ega, possibly in reference to an eponymous parish in Portugal.

Encontro das Águas - Alex Socci
Seminário São José - Rafael Forte
Praia de Nogueira, no município de Alvarães. Foto Arthur Simões
Comunidade da Missão - Rafael forte


    Before Tefé and Ega, the Nuruaques, Cauixanas, Jumanas, Passés, Uainumas, Catuquinas, Jamamadis, Pamanas, Juris, Jurimaguas, Tupebas or Tupibàs lived in the region. They divided the lands that today make-up the municipality of Tefé until the European invasion. The Spanish and Portuguese engaged in bloody battles in disputes over this territory, fighting against one another and the traditional inhabitants in the region during the 17th and 18th centuries. Under the Lusitanian administration, a village, which would become Ega and then Tefé was founded in 1759. At the time, Tefé was much larger than it is today, extending more than 500,000 square kilometers. On June 15, 1855, Tefé was elevated to the rank of city in what was then the Amazonas Province. This data is the official town birthday. 

General Information

Tefé has the largest population of any city or town the middle Solimões region, with an estimated population of 60,154, according to IBGE. The city offers important public services, sought after by rural peoples in the region.  Commerce is the flagship of the urban economy, with a large presence of retailers and wholesalers, banks*, hotels and supermarkets. In the primary sector, agriculture, cattle raising, fishing and non-timber forest collection are the most important activities. The city has two public hospitals and local health posts in several neighborhoods. According to IBGE, there are 26 public and five private health facilities. The State University of Amazonas (UEA) maintains a local campus here, as does the Federal Institute of Education of Amazonas (Ifam).

(*) The banking network in Tefé is composed of: Bank of Brazil, Federal Economic Bank, Bradesco and Amazonas Bank. No 24-hour banking service exists. 


The municipality is located about 545 kilometers from Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state. It is a strategic point in Central Amazonia, practically halfway between Manaus and Colombia. Close-by to Tefé are the two largest Sustainable Development Reserves in Brazil: Mamirauá and Amanã that protect more than 3 million hectares of Amazonian forests.


    Getting to Tefé

    Tefé has a medium-sized airport that receives weekly flights operated by Azul and MAP airlines, which arrive in the morning, afternoon and evening. The aircraft returns to Manaus about half an hour later. From Manaus to Tefé, and vice versa, flights usually last forty-five minutes. Boats are more commonly used to reach the city. Large boats arrive at the local port daily from destinations, such as Manaus and Tabatinga. Travel on these vessels can last for days, with the option of sleeping on a hammock on in a cabin.  Transport to Tefé by speed boat (called à jato) from Manaus takes about 12 hours.

    - Tefé airport: +55 (97) 3343-3684

    - Port Captain of Tefé: +55 (97) 3343-3058


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