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Espírito Santo

State Flag of Espírito Santo
  1. Introduction
  2. Capital: Vitória
  3. Capixaba Coastline - Beaches
  4. Port Complex
  5. Data Table for Espírito Santo


The mixture of races - among them Indian, black, Italian and German - gave rise to the term 'Capixaba' to denote those born in Espírito Santo. The state has a big responsibility in linking Brazil to the international market via its ports network, considered one of the most efficient in Latin America. It is made up of seven ports and deals with products from Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás, the Federal District of Brasília, Minas Gerais, Tocantins, Rondônia and Maranhão.

Espírito SantoEspírito Santo

Espírito Santo has seen a great deal of economic development in the last two decades and has a very diversified industrial base. Among its companies which play an important role in the national economy are Vale do Rio Doce, Companhia Siderúrgica de Tubarão, Aracruz Celulose, Samarco Mineração, Chocolates Garoto, Xerox do Brasil and Braspérola. With an annual output of 12 million linear metres of pure linen and another 6 million metres of mixed linen, Braspérola is the biggest producer of linen of any textile manufacturer in the world. Eucalyptus trees have adapted well particularly in the northern region of the territory, and this has allowed the development of the paper and cellulose industry. The state is also the third biggest producer of coffee in the country, and is the largest Brazilian producer and exporter of papaya.

A long narrow strip between the sea and the mountains, Espírito Santo has great tourist potential, with beaches for all tastes, old buildings and historic reminders of colonial times. The capital, Vitória, is built on an island and is the second oldest city in the state. The oldest is Vila Velha, founded in 1534 by the Portuguese Vasco Fernandes. The hostility of the Goitacase Indians obliged the early settlers to move from Vila Velha to the opposite island. The Portuguese were victorious in the dispute with the Indians for the island and gave the name Vitória to the new settlement. The two towns grew and today enjoy a harmonious relationship, joined by a 4.8 kilometre long bridge.

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Capital: Vitória


Founded in 1551, the capital of Espírito Santo lies between the sea and the mountains. The island is 45 km2 in area, and consists of colonial buildings, ports and beaches. Studded with bays, it has five beaches and is in fact the largest island of an archipelago of 33 islets, which are joined by landfills and bridges. The city has tree-lined streets and a fine sea front on the beach at Camburi, six kilometres long for jogging or walking. Next to Camburi is Canto beach, the location of two well known squares, Desejo and Namorados. This is the area of the most lively bars and finest restaurants in Vitória, where the most famous traditional dish is moqueca capixaba, served in a clay pan.

The main buildings in Vitória are the Palácio Anchieta, begun when the city was founded, and formerly a college, a church, and now the seat of government; the church of São Gonçalo, dating from 1766, in Jesuit colonial style; the Metropolitan cathedral, built in the twentieth century in Gothic style; the chapel of Santa Luzia, the first building of the city, constructed on a rocky outcrop; the church of Rosário, which is reached by a flight of 95 steps; and the Carlos Gomes Theatre, built in 1927 as a smaller replica of La Scala in Milan.

For a panoramic view of Vitória and Vila Velha - the first settlement in the state, linked to the capital by a bridge - one can go to Morro da Fonte Grande (312 metres), seven kilometres from the city centre. For shopping, the Capixaba Market sells items of wicker, sisal, shells and liana, as well as pottery (ceramics typical of the state). However, the most traditional ceramic pottery is to be found in Goiabeiras, a district in the north of the city.

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Capixaba Coastline - Beaches

Upon leaving Vitória in the direction of the south coast (only the capital is an island, the rest of the state is on the mainland), there are 113 kilometres of beaches, including Sepetiba, Três Praias, Itaoca, Marataizes and Guarapari, the best known holiday resort in the state. This stretch of the Capixaba coastline is punctuated by hills, cliffs and reefs, and the sea is crystalline and green in colour. The monazitic sand, which is considered to have medicinal properties, attracts thousands of bathers. In Guarapari, the beach at Castanheiras affords a marvellous spectacle from the end of the summer, the return of thousands of swallows en masse to sleep in the trees of the coast road. And in Anchieta, 80 kilometres from Vitória, the end of the afternoon is marked by herons flying back to sleep in the trees along the Beneventes river.

Espírito SantoEspírito Santo

To the north of Vitória, the beaches are rockier and there are places where rivers meet the sea, as happens with the Doce river, the largest of Espírito Santo, which crosses the state to pour out into the Atlantic. From Vitória to Itaúnas, the last town in the state, there are 253 kilometres of coastline with beaches hidden in small bays or with long strips of sand. On the way there is the little fishing village of Nova Almeida, 30 kilometres from the capital, where there is the church of Reis Magos, a Jesuit building of the sixteenth century listed by the National Heritage Institute.

Continuing in the direction of Itaúnas, the road passes through Regência, site of the Comboios Biological Reserve, internationally recognised for its work in conserving sea turtles, and then through São Mateus, noteworthy for the ruins of the Jesuit church. Thirteen kilometres from São Mateus is Guriri Island, followed by Conceição da Barra and, finally, Itaúnas with its sand dunes, some of them over 30 metres high.

Nature is the great attraction in Itaúnas. The State Park possesses a rich ecosystem, with mangrove glades, sandbanks, rivers, lagoons, beaches and forest. Here is also one of the main locations of the Tamar project, a centre for the study of sea turtles where, from September to March, the visitor can watch the turtles laying their eggs. Only 20 minutes by car from Itaúnas is the last and one of the most beautiful beaches of the north coast, Riacho Doce.

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Port Complex

Espírito Santo has one of the most efficient port networks in Latin America, made up of seven ports, which in 1996 were responsible for 25% of the total volume of goods passing through Brazilian ports and for 12% of foreign exchange earnings. The network, which in 1996 handled 97,55 million tons, is integrated with various international ports and is also connected with a road and rail transport system which facilitates the flow of goods. The port of Tubarão, in Camburi, Vitória, is the biggest iron ore export port in the world. It is operated by the Vale do Rio Doce Company, which exports 80 million tons of minerals every year. The quays cover 20 km2 and are served by 3 thousand vehicles and 60 different bus lines. The port also has five silos, with a total storage capacity of 200,000 tons of grain.

Espírito Santo is linked with the Centre West, South East and North East regions of Brazil through the road and rail transport system. The state is part of the Centre East Corridor, formed in 1991 when an agreement was signed between the governments of Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás, teh Federal District of Brasília and Minas Gerais, and later Tocantins, Rondônia and Maranhão. Managed by a private operating group, the corridor is used for the transport of grain and other goods originating from these states, which are then exported through the ports of Espírito Santo.

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Data Table for Espírito Santo

Capital Vitória
Area 46,184.1 km2
Towns 78
Location Eastern part of the South-East Region
Population 3,094,390 inhabitants (2000)
Population in the Capital 305,000 inhabitants
Climate Tropical
Mean Annual Temperature (capital) 24º C
Time in Relation to Brasília The same
Density of Population 67.2 inhabitants/km2
Urbanization Index 79.5% (2000)
Infant Mortality 25.5 per thousand live-born (2000)
Illiteracy Rate 11.1% (2000)
Contribution to GDP 1.5%
Representation at National Congress 13 Members of Parliament
Vegetation Tropical forest and coastal vegetation


  • IBGE 2000 and Projections for 2002
  • Abril Almanac
  • Gabeira, Gabriel Luiz - "Synthesis of the Brazilian Economy", Rio de Janeiro, National Trade Confederation (CNC), 1999