Belterra is a Brazilian municipality in the state of Pará, in the Brazilian Amazon region, which has an interesting history that takes us back to the second decade of the 20th century, after the first world war. At that time, as a result of the economic difficulties of the post-war period, there was a drop in rubber prices. This situation caused the British and Dutch to reduce the quota of each producer in their colonies in Southeast Asia as a way to lead to higher prices. This action directly affected industrial consumers, especially North Americans, leading them to try to become self-sufficient in this raw material.
Trying to gain autonomy, Henry Ford, owner of the Ford Motor Company, created the Companhia Ford Industrial do Brasil and began the orderly plantation of rubber trees, initially in Fordlândia on the banks of the Tapajós River and later in Belterra.
The city of Belterra was founded in 1934 and, in five years, the project gained unusual dimensions for the region at that time: athletic fields, shops, recreation buildings, pool club, cinema. From 1938 to 1940, Belterra lived its heyday and was considered the largest single producer of latex in the world. However, the end of World War II, the death of Henry Ford’s son, the high incidence of disease in the rubber plantations, and, above all, the discovery of synthetic rubber in Malaysia were decisive for the decay of the project in Belterra. From then on, the area was negotiated for Brazil and the Ford Company abandoned the dream.
For 39 years, Belterra was forgotten and the ‘American city’ was transformed, among other names, into the Rural Establishment of Tapajós (ERT), under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture. It was only in 1997 that the residents of Belterra achieved emancipation from the municipality.
The municipality of Belterra has an area of 4,398 km2, 62% of which is occupied by the Tapajós National Forest with exuberant primary forest composed of several giant centenary trees and 81% of the total area of the municipality is permanently preserved