Santa Catarina in Brazil

The state of Santa Catarina is famous above all for its beaches, especially those around the cities of Florianópolis and Laguna. These are among the most beautiful in southern Brazil, and have the bestsurf in the country. The state is also famous for its beautiful people who, defying the national stereotype, are often tall, blonde and blue-eyed. For this was an area that saw much northern-European immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Portuguese from the Azores settled along the coast, the Germans moved along the Itajaí Valley, the Italians headed for the south and into Rio Grande do Sul, while in the north there are Ukrainians, Japanese, Africans, Hispanics and Indians. Immigrant communities still give a unique personality to a number of the state's towns and districts, as each group maintains its traditions and festivals, its architecture, food and language or accent. German and Ukrainian are spoken as much as Portuguese, and every year one million people visit the Oktoberfest in Blumenau. The vast majority of people today can trace their family to these ethnic origins.

As well as each region having its own distinctive culture, Santa Catarina also has its own climate and scenery. The highlands, just in from the coast, are among the coldest in Brazil and are covered in remnant aracauria pine forest, a tree related to the Chilean monkey puzzle. Except for the summer months of January and February, Santa Catarina's beaches are pleasant and uncrowded. The best months to visit are March, April and May before the water gets too cold for swimming.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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