Governador Valadares is a Brazilian city in the state of Minas Gerais. In 2006, its population was 260,405 inhabitants. It is an economical center of the middle Valley of the Rio Doce, making an significant influence on the east and northeast of Minas Gerais and local authorities of the state of the Espírito Santo. Governador Valadares sits on the bank of the Rio Doce, 324 km from Belo Horizonte.
The main watercourse through the municipality is the Doce River ("Rio Doce" in Portuguese) whose basin (of 83,500 square kilometers) is composed of 222 municipalities. Nowadays its waters are very polluted, with little vegetation on its banks and depleted fish stocks.
Throughout its history Governador Valdares has had several names:
In 1937 the municipality of Figueira do Rio Doce was established, which then changed its name to Governador Valadares, who was the governor at the time.
Governador Valadares is the biggest city and commercial center of the Eastern region of the state of Minas Gerais, having several cities in his area of influence, such as Teófilo Otoni and Caratinga. At present, Governador Valadares is growing in industrial development, due to its strategic position, human resources and international reputation.
It is a trade and industrial center. Sawmills and food-processing plants are in the city, and mica and beryl are mined in the area. Governador Valadares is one of the most famous gem-trading centres in Brazil. Gem minerals include amethyst, chrysoberyl, brazilianite, topaz and quartz. The Golconda mine, one of the oldest in the city, attracts the curiosity of tourists and stone collectors from all over the world.
The city is served by the railroad Vitória-Minas, of the CVRD and by the highway Rio-Bahia (BR 116). It is also connected with the capital of the state by the BR 381.
The city is on the Belo Horizonte–Vitória railway and on the Rio de Janeiro–Salvador highway. Distances from major centers:
The city hosts of one of the stages of the Brazilian Championship of Hang-gliding being that the competitors get off the Ibituruna's Peak, where it is possible to catch sight of the whole region of the Valley of the Rio Doce which bed is on the feet of the peak, and also it hosts several international championships of hang-gliding, which takes the local authority to be known like "The World-wide Capital of the Hang-gliding".
The city is known internationally for the World Paragliding Championship that has been held at Ibituruna Peak (1123 meters). In recent years the city and region have become notorious in U.S. immigration circles for being a major supplier of immigrants (illegal and legal) to the United States.
Average annual rainfall index: 1,350 mm