Pirapora is a municipality (município) in northcentral Minas Gerais in Brazil. Its population in 2007 was 51,636 in a total area of 577 km². The name Pirapora comes from the Tupi language and means place where the fish live.
Neighboring municipalities are: Lagoa Grande, Coromandel, Guarda-Mor, Lagamar and Paracatu. There are two districts, besides the municipal seat: Claro de Minas, 12 km. distant, and Vazamor, 32 km. distant.
Microregion of Pirapora
The statistical microregion of Pirapora includes 9 cities: Buritizeiro, Várzea da Palma, Ibiaí, Jequitaí, São Romão, Lassance, Riachinho, Santa Fé de Minas and Lagoa dos Patos. It has an area of 23,111 km2 and a population of approximately 150,000 inhabitants.
There are highway connections with the main federal highway, the BR 040, to the west. In 1910 the railroad came up from the south and reached Pirapora, with a bridge (694 m) being built across the river. There were plans to extend the line to the coast. At the end of the nineteen seventies the line was deactivated, but the bridge and the rails still remain.
Today the river has lost its economic importance and is mainly used by tourist boats that attempt to recreate the spirit of the past, when Mississippi style riverboats were used to go as far as Juazeiro in Bahia. These boats used charcoal, which contributed to the disappearance of the vegetation along the river. One of the old paddle wheel steamboats can still be seen anchored in front of the city and is a major tourist site.
According to the city government site , Pirapora is the second most important city in the north of Minas, after Montes Claros, in industrial output. There is an industrial park where several small and medium industries are installed. Iron silicon, metallic silicon, and textiles are produced.
In 2007 there were three institutes of higher learning in the city: Instituto Educacional Santo Agostinho (private), União de Ensino de Minas Gerais Ltda (private), and UNIMONTES-Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros (public).
The score on the Municipal Human Development Index was 0.758. Pirapora was ranked 235 out of 853 municipalities in the state, with Poços de Caldas in first place with 0.841 and Setubinha in last place with 0.568.