Espírito Santo in Brazil

Sandwiched between Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and Bahia, the coastal state of Espírito Santo is relatively unknown, except by Mineiros heading for the coast for their holidays. It has many beaches, but they are overshadowed by those of its northern and southern neighbours. There are a number of nature reserves and turtle-breeding grounds in Espírito Santo, and European immigration has given the towns a distinctive atmosphere. The state capital, Vitória, is also the mainindustrial and commercial centre. People here are known as Capixabas, after a former tribe.

The state has a hot, damp seaboard with a more-or-less straight, low coastline and long beaches open to the Atlantic. The south is mountainous and dotted with vast granite boulders even larger than Sugar Loaf in Rio. The most spectacular is Pedra Azul. The slopes are covered with pine plantations and remnants of Mata Atlântica rainforest. The coast is covered with restinga scrub and grassland. The north of the state is flat and dominated by vast eucalyptus plantations which run down to the long coastal sand dunes.

Background

Espírito Santo was one of the original captaincies created by the Portuguese in the 16th century, but their colony was very precarious in its early days. During the struggle for supremacy, the son of Mem de Sá (the governor in Bahia) was killed, but, as elsewhere, the invaders eventually prevailed, though not as successfully as in many of the other captaincies, as the Portuguese were only able to gain a foothold on the coastal plains. When the focus of attention moved to the mines in Minas Gerais in the 18th centuries, the state became strategically important. Initially it was not on the gold exporting route, but after iron mining began a trail from Belo Horizonte to Vitória was created. This remains one of the major economic corridors in the country.

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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