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Santa Catarina

State Flag of Santa Catarina
  1. Introduction
  2. Beaches
  3. Capital: Florianópolis
  4. Blumenau
  5. Joinville
  6. Data Table for Santa Catarina


With an area the size of Portugal and a population similar to that of Norway, the state of Santa Catarina is a land of contrasts: in terms of landscape, the mountain ranges are in contrast with the coastline, punctuated with beaches, bays and inlets and dozens of islands; in terms of architecture, cities such as Blumenau and Joinville have retained the same typical building style from the time the first immigrants, mainly Germans, colonized the state, contrasting with the capital, Florianópolis, which is a young, modern city with water sports championships running all year round.

Santa CatarinaSanta Catarina

The colonization process began on the coast with the arrival of Portuguese from the Azores in the middle of the eighteenth century, sent by the Portuguese king to complete the take-over. After them came the Italians, who settled mainly in the south and west of the state, and last of all the Germans, who chose to go north and north-east and founded the cities of Blumenau in the Itajaí Valley, and Joinville.

Santa Catarina is made up of a mixture of nationalities that are reflected in the culture and historical heritage of the state. Tourists can enjoy the state's attractions all year round. In the summer, when temperatures reach 35º C, they can visit the state's beautiful beaches, whereas in winter, when temperatures go down and snow occasionally falls, tourists can enjoy the highlands country.

Known as a piece of Europe set in the southern hemisphere, Santa Catarina has one of the highest economic development indices in Brazil, based on diverse industries including cattle-rearing and mineral extraction. The most important industries are in the agroindustrial sector covering metals, textile, ceramics and electrical and electronic machinery and equipment.

Santa CatarinaSanta Catarina

The main industrial activity takes place in the Joinville area with the textiles industry being centred on Blumenau in the Itajaí Valley. The ceramic and porcelain industries are mainly in the south of the state and export to more than sixty countries. The cities of Tubarão, Criciúma and neighbouring administrative districts have economies that are based on mineral extraction, particularly coal.

Twenty five per cent of the state is involved in agriculture with plantations growing rice, garlic, onions and apples which when harvested in Fraiburgo and São Joaquim, represent more than half Brazil's total production which amounts to 480 tons. To the west, Santa Catarina has some of the country's largest abattoirs such as Sadia in Concórdia, Perdigão in Vidreira and Chapecó in the town of the same name.

Exports leave via three ports: São Francisco do Sul on the northern coast, Itajaí near Camboriú, and Imbituba, Brazil's first privately owned port in the south of the state.

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Around 1.5 million tourists visit the one hundred and seventy beaches each year in December, January and February. To the north of Florianópolis are the beaches of Enseada, Ubatuba, Barra Velha, Piçarras and those included in the municipality of Penha as well as Armação do Itapocoroy, the site of Beto Carrero World, one of the main leisure and entertainment centres in Brazil with replicas of a city and a pirate ship where various shows are put on as well as displays by trained animals.

Less than twenty kilometres from Penha is the Camboriú Beach Resort where, in addition to the sun and sea, the facilities include an exhibition park covering an area of 5,000 square metres packed with attractions including displays of native fauna and flora, an archaeological museum and oceanographic and zoological museums. There is also the beach at Pinha which was the first in Brazil to be reserved for nudists. Nearer to the capital are Itapema, Porto Belo and Zimbros.

South of the city of Florianópolis one finds the Sonho, Pinheira, Guarda do Embaú and Pedras Altas beaches, apart from some of the most popular beaches for surfing: Garopaba, Rosa, Imbituba and Farol de Santa Marta. Pedras Altas is a nudist beach and is part of the natural reserve within the Parque Florestal da Serra do Tabuleiro (The Serra do Tabuleiro Park).

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Capital: Florianópolis


Bathed by forty two beaches, Florianópolis is a wonderful sight for the visitor. Situated on the Island of Santa Catarina, the capital of the state of Santa Catarina has a landscape sprinkled with lakes, sand dunes and small islands all along the coast. The inviting waves on beaches such as Joaquina have encouraged successive national and international surfing championships to be held here. Beaches such as Canasvieiras and Jurerê with hotels and sophisticated restaurants, compete with the rustic charm of beaches such as Campeche, Ponta dos Naufragados and Solidão.

Along the coast, a series of fortresses built to withstand invasion by the Spanish and Dutch during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are a relic from the colonization of the state. Amongst them are the Fortress of Santa Cruz on the Island of Anhatomirim, the Fortress of São José da Ponta Grossa between the beaches of Daniela and Jurerê, registered as Historical Heritage, and Santo Antônio, on the Island of Ratones Grande. In Pântano do Sul, also on the coast, is the capital's most authentic fishing village.

Originally colonized by the Portuguese of the Azores, Florianópolis retains many traces of its early years. The small village of Santo Antônio de Lisboa is an example of architecture of that period and in Ribeirão da Ilha, the oldest part of the capital, the inhabitants still speak the Azorean dialect which is difficult to understand at first. In Ribeirão da Ilha is the church of Our Lady of Lapa do Ribeirão, built in 1806. Lagoa da Conceição, with its many sand dunes, restaurants and seaside night life and where women make lace to sell in the street, has also managed to retain many traces of its colonial architecture.

The centre of Florianópolis, with its alleys, rows of typical houses, churches and museums, contains many examples of colonial architecture. Amongst these are the former government palace, nowadays the Cruz e Souza Museum (which took its name from the famous poet from Santa Catarina who formed the symbolist movement) and the Public Market built in 1898 which sells food and local handicrafts under the shade of a one hundred year old fig tree. Close to the centre is the house where Victor Meirelles was born, one of the authors who devised the first mass spoken in Brazil. The building is registered by the Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage and houses the Victor Meirelles Museum.

Santa Catarina Island (Portuguese: Ilha de Santa Catarina) is an island in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. The island covers 523 km² and is the site of the state capital Florianópolis as well as numerous beach resorts, such as Canasvieiras and Cachoeira do Bom Jesus. It is connected to the mainland by three bridges.

The island was a stopping point for many ships traveling from New York to the goldfields of California during the California Gold Rush. These ships reached California by way of Cape Horn.

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With its typical houses in the timbered style, based on wood and brick without any nails and dating back to the German colonization, Blumenau, in Santa Catarina, was known until the middle of the 1980s as a centre for textiles and the production of crystal. Since then its name has become synonymous with festivals: after the city was destroyed by flooding in 1983, the local government decided to organize an event to raise funds to rebuild it. Thus the first Oktoberfest was born, a beer festival that has become a city tradition, attracting a million people during its seventeen days.

Held in October, the Oktoberfest is based on the festival that takes place in Munich, Germany. There is a different programme each day to keep everyone amused, with performances by typical bands and folk dancers as well as plenty of beer being available in the city's main streets.

Near Blumenau is the little town of Pomerode where 90% of the 20,000 inhabitants speak German. The children there learn Portuguese only at school. There are processions just like in German cities with floats decorated with flowers. The Pomerode Festival takes place in January when the sound of accordion music fills the town and there is typical German food to try, with sauerkraut or stuffed duck with red cabbage.

The most important textile company in the Itajaí Valley is in Blumenau - Hering Têxtil - number one in Brazil and third in the world for knitwear. The textile industry in the Itajaí Valley exports a total of US$ 400 million each year.

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The largest city in Santa Catarina with 381,000 inhabitants and one of the most important industrial parks in the state, Joinville is named after a prince. The lands in the region once belonged to François Ferdinand Phillipe, Prince of Joinville and son of Louis Phillipe, King of France by his marriage to the sister of King Pedro II, Francisca Carolina. He later left the area which later became a settlement for German, Norwegian and Swiss immigrants.

Joinville is the centre of the refrigeration companies, Cônsul and Tubos e Conexões Tigre, and is by no means a typical industrial city. Although it has 680 large factories, it is surrounded by green conservation areas and flowers - since 1939, the municipality has held a flower festival and various other tourist attractions which make it different from Brazil's other industrial centres.

The German culture is clearly evident in the Germanic buildings, window-boxes, waiters in national dress, the architecture of the main market, the city arch and in the railway station. The National Museum of Immigration and Colonization tells the story of the princess and her prince consort. At the entrance to the museum, which used to be the royal residence, are enormous imperial palms planted in 1873.

Like Blumenau's Oktoberfest, Joinville also has a beer festival every October. In July, the Dance Festival takes place, forming part of the national calendar of festivals and events. For thirteen years the city has been the stage for around 4,000 national and international dancers from one hundred and forty dance groups, both amateur and professional. The Festival has been taking place since 1983 and is watched by more than 200,000 people annually.

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Data Table for Santa Catarina

Capital Florianópolis
Area 95,442.9 km2
Towns 293
Location Centre of the South Region
Population 5,349,580 inhabitants (2000)
Population in the Capital 375,000 inhabitants
Climate Sub-Tropical
Mean Annual Temperature (capital) 20º C
Time in Relation to Brasília The same
Density of Population 56.1 inhabitants/km2
Urbanization Index 78.7% (2000)
Infant Mortality 21.7 per thousand live-born (2000)
Illiteracy Rate 6.8% (2000)
Contribution to GDP 3.3%
Representation at National Congress 19 Members of Parliament
Vegetation Swamps along the coastal strip, groves of Brazilian pines in the centre of the state, prairies to the south-west, strips of forests to the east and west


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