23 Photos Of The World Cup Host City That's In The Middle Of The Jungle

A lot of people didn’t think World Cup games should be held in Manaus.

The Amazonian city is 1,700 miles from Sao Paulo and surrounded by 2.1 million square miles of rain forest.

National team coaches have complained about the oppressive heat and humidity. Brazilians have complained about the exorbitant cost of building a soccer arena in the middle of the jungle — a city so remote that it took a 20-day boat voyage to deliver the steel to build the 42,000-seat stadium.

With just three days to go until the Italy-England game, the pitch at the Arena Amazonia is in horrible shape.

As these great photos from Reuters, Getty, and the AP show, Manaus is gorgeous (it sits on the banks of the Rio Negro), large (the 7th-biggest city in Brazil), and industrial (its free port is a hub of trade).

But given the construction costs, the travel headaches, and the playing conditions, it’s also a head-scratching choice for a World Cup host city.

Manaus is 900 miles up the Amazon, and surrounded by rain forests.

It's an important shipping outpost for trading along the Amazon River.

It's also a hub for ecotourism. Here's a dock for tourist boat excursions along the Rio Negro.

Ponta Negra beach.

The Manaus harbor.

The Sauim Castanheira Wildlife Refuge runs right up to the edge of town.

The Arena Amazonia is the most controversial venue of the 2014 World Cup.

The pitch looks great from above ...

But the field is in admittedly 'bad shape' going into the World Cup, with dirt patches everywhere.

It also cost $US290 million to build, and with no pro team in Manaus it could become a white elephant.

Source: SI

The Colina Training Center looked like this in January. Many World Cup venues were behind schedule last winter.

The finished training center in June, where the teams will practice before matches.

The Ariau hotel in the jungle outside Manaus is a center of ecotourism.

Manaus is remote, closer to Venezuela than Rio.

Swimmers walk along the beach.

The sun sets on the Rio Negro.

It's the only World Cup host city in Northern Brazil.

In 2013, police evicted 5,000 Amazon Indians from an area of rainforest near the city, drawing protests.

Manaus from above. It's a heavily populated city of more than 2 million people.

A neighbourhood decorated for the World Cup.

The Rio Negro, one of the Amazon's many large tributaries.

A pick-up field flooded by the river.

Downtown is centered around renaissance-style Amazon Theatre.

Manaus on a map. It's hundreds of miles from the other host cities.

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