The name is of obscure Indian origin, reportedly meaning "arrow-fishing" and alludes to the Bororo custom of using arrows to fish. Another version says that there was an Indian group called Ykuiapá. Others say that a Portuguese man was taking a bath in the river using a kind of plate made with half coconut (named cuia), and the stream took it, and the man said: Cuia ba (something like "the cuia is gone"). The Metropolitan Area of the Capital, or, Great Cuiabá, has in the Cities of Várzea Grande, Santo Antônio do Leverger, Poconé and Chapada dos Guimarães, the largest pole of tourism, economy, agro industry, trade and culture of the State.
The new Marechal Rondon International Airport connects Cuiabá with many Brazilian cities and also operates some international flights.
The city is home to the Federal University of Mato Grosso.
Cuiabá was founded on January 1, 1727 by Rodrigo César de Menezes, then the "capitain" of the capitaincy of São Paulo in the aftermath of the discovery of gold mines. It was given township status in 1818 and became the capital in 1835.
Since the late eighteenth century, until the time of the Paraguay War, the town remained small and in decline. The war, however, brought some infra-structure and a brief period of economic boom, supplying sugar, foodstuffs and timber to the Brazilian troops.
After the war the town was once again forgotten by the rest of the country, to such an extent that the Imperial and later the Republican governments of Brazil used to use it as an exile for troublesome politicians. Isolation allowed it to preserve a lot of the oldest Brazilian ways of life until way into the twentieth century.
Starting from 1930, isolation was broken by road and railway -- and later by aviation. The town became a city and would grow quite rapidly from 1960 onwards, after the installation of the Brazilian capital in Brasilia.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the pace of growth kept increasing as agriculture became commercialized, using the railways and the roads to sell the soybeans and the rice produced abroad. The growth was such that from 1960 to 1980 the small town of 50,000 in habitants became a behemoth with more than a quarter of a million inhabitants (including surrounding area and conurbated towns).
Since 1990, the rate of population growth has decreased, as other towns in the state have begun to attract more immigration than the capital. Tourism has emerged as a source of income and environmental issues have become a concern for the first time. There is a huge problem with a lack of basic sanitation, traffic is often congested, violence is at large and poverty is everywhere.
Cuiabá confronts the towns of Chapada dos Guimarães, Campo Verde, Santo Antônio do Leverger, Várzea Grande, Jangada e Acorizal. It is the place of intersection of many major roads, railways and waterways. The second most important airport of the Brazilian Central-West region is there, as well as the heart of an important agriculture produce area. It is also the geographic centre of South America and is famous throughout Brazil as the country's hottest metropolis, where temperatures are often above 40°C (104°F).
The town is in the transition zone between three of the most characteristic Brazilian ecosystems: Amazonia, Cerrado and Pantanal. It is also close to the mountain range known as Chapada dos Guimarães (which blocks polar masses and causes the extremely hot weather).
Cuiabá is also known as the Southern gate to the Amazon.
This climate is tropical climate semi-humid, hot, and notedly seasonal, with a dry winter season from May through September or October. The annual rainfall is 1.500 mm. January is the warmest month, with mean maxima of 32°C (89.6°F) and minima of 24°C (75.2°F) and more rain; July experiences the coldest temperatures, with mean maxima of 31°C (87.8°F) and minima of 17°C (62.6°F) and sun.
The economy of Cuiabá is centralized in commerce, services and industry.
Commerce and Services based in Cuiabá are important to the whole State, because population is divided in several small agriculture-centered cities; these people often travel to the capital to get these services and buy goods not sold anywhere else.
The industrial sector is represented, basically, by the agro-industry, specially food-processing.
Many industries, mainly those that should be maintained far from the populous areas, are installed in the Industrial District of Cuiabá (DIICC), created in 1978.
Even though it's located in one of the most agriculture-prone States of Brazil, Cuiabá itself has only small vegetable farms, mainly family or cooperative-based.
There is a very rich local culture based on Portuguese, African and Indian influences. Cuiabá has an interesting Indian(native American)-influenced cuisine, native dances, craftwork and music.
In August 2007 an important Italian wind orchestra performed the Orchestra Fiati Giovanile Italiana e Coro "I Music Piemonteis" conducted by Ugo Bairo and his choir, conducted by Carmelo Luca Sambataro.
Also like many other cities in Brazil, Cuiabá holds its own out-of-time Carnaval (Carnaval fora de época, ou micareta), called Micarecuia.
The main attraction is the area's natural environment. Both Chapada dos Guimarães and Pantanal are excellent places for sightseeing, rappel, skydiving, ballooning, trekking, sport fishing and exotic photography. The city has many tourist attractions, most of which were developed to attract tourist dollars.