The beaches along the coast of 561 kilometers (348 miles) are a great attraction for tourists visiting the smallest State of the South Region. Florianópolis, the capital, is on an island and is one of the Brazilian cities that receives the most foreign tourists. To the south, Garopaba is the preferred destination of surfers looking for good waves. In the mountain region, São Joaquin is the attraction during winter because of its low temperatures. Blumenau, in the interior of Santa Catarina, is the stage for one of the biggest events of the country: the Oktoberfest, a traditional beer party originated from Germany, that happens in October. The heritage of the Italian, German and Portuguese immigrants can be seen in the architecture and the customs of the state.
Santa Catarina is in a very strategic position in Mercosur, the South American Common Market. Its position in the map is situated between the parallel 25º57'41" and 29º23'55" of the Southern latitude and between the meridians 48º19'37" and 53º50'00" of Western longitude. Florianópolis, its capital, is 1,673 km (1,039 miles) from Brasilia, 705 km (438 miles) from São Paulo, 1,144 km (710 miles) from Rio de Janeiro and 1,850 km (1,149 miles) from Buenos Aires.
The Serra Geral, a southern extension of the Serra do Mar, runs north and south through the state parallel to the Atlantic coast, dividing the state between a narrow coastal plain and a larger plateau region to the west.
The Atlantic coast of Santa Catarina has many beaches, islands, bays, inlets, and lagoons. The humid tropical Serra do Mar coastal forests cover the narrow coastal zone, which is crossed by numerous short streams from the wooded slopes of the serras.
The central part of the state is home to the Araucaria moist forests, dominated by emergent Brazilian pines (Araucaria angustifolia). The drainage of the plateau is westward to the Paraná River, the rivers being tributaries of the Iguaçu, which forms its northern boundary, and of the Uruguay, which forms its southern boundary. The semi-deciduous Paraná-Paraíba interior forests occupy the westernmost valleys of the Iguaçu and Uruguay rivers.
European settlement began with the Spanish settlement of Santa Catarina island in 1542. The Portuguese took control in 1675. The captaincy of Santa Catarina was established in 1738. Large numbers of European immigrants, especially from Germany, began arriving in the early 19th century. Immigrants from Italy, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Japan and other parts of Europe later arrived, with one result being an abundance of small, family-held farms in the state's interior. In late March 2004, the state was hit by the first ever hurricane recorded in the South Atlantic. Because there is no naming system for such an event in Brazil, Brazilian meteorologists called it Catarina, after the state.
According to the IBGE of 2007, there were 5,974,000 people residing in the state. The population density was 62.5 inh./km². The last PNAD (National Research for Sample of Domiciles) census revealed the following numbers: 5,215,000 White people (87.1%), 585,000 Pardo (Brown) people (9.8%), 161,000 Black people (2.7%), 11,000 Asian and Amerindian people (0.4%).
People of Portuguese ancestry, mostly Azoreans, predominate on the coast. People of German descent predominate in the northeast region (Itajaí Valley) and in the north (Joinville region). There are many German communities in the west. People of Italian descent predominate in the south, as well in many areas in the west. People of African, Amerindian or Japanese origins are small communities in a few towns.
The Portuguese started arriving in the 1750s, mainly from the Azores islands, and colonized the coast. In the late 18th century, half of Santa Catarina's population was Portuguese-born. These Portuguese established many important towns of the state, such as Florianópolis, the capital.
Germans had been isolated in rural communities for decades. They did not have much contact with the other peoples of Brazil, and for generations they were able to speak German and keep their German traditions in Brazil. This situation changed in 1942, during World War II, when Brazil declared war against Germany and the German immigrants were required to learn Portuguese and to follow a Brazilian way of life. Nowadays, the German influence in the State of Santa Catarina is still very strong and visible. Many towns, especially the small ones, still retain many aspects of the German culture, such as Pomerode, a small town where 90% of the population are of German-Brazilian heritage and most of the inhabitants speak German fluently or the Oktoberfest of Blumenau and many other towns in the region. The architecture also shows German influence, which is also evident in people's customs and food.
Share of the Brazilian economy: 4% (2005).
Santa Catarina has one of the highest standards of living in Brazil- comparable to the Iberian Peninsula countries, and is a major industrial and agricultural center.
In the northeast of the state, electric-mechanical, textile and furniture industries are strong; in the west, cattle and poultry breeding predominate, while in the south it is ceramics and shellfish.
The corridor between Joinville, Jaragua do Sul and Blumenau is heavily industrialized - more than 50% of the state's industrial output is concentrated in this small, but highly developed area.
Santa Catarina has some of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil - Summer months (Dec-Mar) make the state one of the most sought-after travel destinations in Brazil and South America. Tens of thousands of Argentines and Paraguayans flock to the state's beaches from mid December to late January.
The major cities and their respective fields are:
Santa Catarina is not just a summer destination. The state which was initially known for its beautiful coastline with more than 500 beaches found that its geographic and cultural diversity was also a big tourist attraction and as a result, tourists can today enjoy contrasting types of scenery and climate which are very close to each other – only two hours by car separate paradisiacal beaches from some 2000 meters-high mountains.
Santa Catarina offers a number of sights and events throughout the year: rural tourism, thermal mineral resorts, ecological tourism and adventure sports, historic monuments and sights, religious tourism, Beto Carrero World and Unipraias parks), and the unforgettable beach resort of Florianópolis.
Some of these sights can only be seen in the off-season, like the snow spectacle on the Catarinense Mountain Range - the only place in Brazil where it snows every year. This region is the birthplace of rural tourism, has farm hotels with trout fishing in the ice-cold rivers, horse riding, trekking and outdoor sports activities.
Between July and November, the Right whales visit the state's coast – and the number of tourists wishing to see this spectacle has increased year after year.
Joinville is the host city of the July "Joinville Dance Festival", the annual "Festival of Flowers" in November which showcases orchids produced in the region, and several business events in its Convention Center.
Florianópolis the city/island State Capital attracts a large numbers of tourists during the summer months lured by its 42 beaches.
Santa Catarina has one of the most beautiful coastlines in Brazil, with one very busy beach resort: Florianópolis, the Costão of Santinho resort.
Figueirense FC - black and white. Its nickname is Figueira ("Figtree") and it is also known as O Furacão do Estreito ("The Estreito's Hurricane"). Its stadium is the Orlando Scarpelli, located in the Estreito neighborhood, in the continental part of the city. Figueirense is currently playing in the Brazilian first division.
Avaí FC - blue and white. It is also known as O Leão da Ilha ("The Lion of the Island"). Its stadium is the Aderbal Ramos da Silva, popularly known as Ressacada, located in the Carianos neighborhood, in the south part of the island. Avaí is currently playing in the Brazilian national second division.
Florianópolis is the hometown of tennis star Gustavo Kuerten.
The island is generally considered to be blessed with the best and most consistent waves in Brazil, and in early November of each year hosts what is currently South America's only ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) World Championship Tour professional surfing competition. Brazil has played host to many an ASP tour event over the past 30 years. Former contest sites include Rio de Janeiro, Barra de Tijuca and Saquarema, but the past four years have seen the tour set up shop in Florianopolis. Falling towards the end of the tour, the past few years have seen several ASP world champions crowned in Brazil. In 2004 it was Andy Irons, and in 2005 it was Kelly Slater (who had his 2006 ASP World Title already stitched up by Brazil).
The minority languages of the state of Santa Catarina can be divided into two distinct groups:
In some cities and villages, German and Italian are still the first spoken language.
Other important cities
Mining, environment, and development in southern Santa Catarina, Brazil: non-governmental organization, "Terra Verde" and its ideas for sustainability.
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