The Southeast of Brazil is the cultural and economic hub of the country, and contains three of the four largest cities: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte.
Today, the Southeast is still the most populous and economically powerful of the country’s regions, besides being the epicenter of the Brazil’s cultural industries. Nevertheless, it is still to overcome problems that plague the rest of the country, such as the extreme contrast between the rich and the poor, and the lack of security in the metropolises. In spite of that, São Paulo and Rio are the main gateways to Brazil, both for business and leisure travelers, and the region offers countless attractions to all its visitors.
And then there is the southernmost region of Brazil. Its attractions range from the historic jesuit ruins of Missões to the excellent beaches of Santa Catarina and the unmissable Iguaçu Falls.
Regions of Southern Brazil:
- Espírito Santo - forming a narrow and long band between the ocean and the mountains, the state of Espírito Santo has a great potential for tourism, offering to visitors beaches for all tastes; old buildings, and historic landmarks of its colonization. The origin of the capixaba people – that´s how who´s born there is called – comes from a mixture of Indians, blacks and Germans, among others. Its capital, Vitória, stands out for sheltering one of the most important Brazilian ports, Tubarão – and for offering excellent places for sports fishing.
- Minas Gerais - was the seedbed of the Brazilian revolution. Inspired by the American and French revolutions, a group of Mineiros, led by Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, nicknamed Tiradentes because he was a dentist, tried to break free from Portuguese rule, but was suppressed. The motto of Minas is Libertas quae sera tamen (Liberty, though it be delayed). "Minas Gerais" means "General Mines", so called because of the various mines in the area. Some still operate; in February 2006 a ring of diamond smugglers, passing off diamonds from Minas as if they were South African, was broken up.
- Rio de Janeiro the state - is part of the Mata Atlântica biome, and its topography comprises both mountains and plains, located between the Mantiqueira Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Its coast is formed by the bays of Guanabara, Sepetiba, and Ilha Grande. There are prominent slopes near the ocean, featuring also diverse environments, such as restinga vegetation, bays, lagoons and tropical forests. Rio de Janeiro is the smallest state in the Southeast macroregion and one of the smallest in Brazil. It has, however, the third longest coastline in the country (second only to those of Bahia and Maranhão), extending 635 kilometers.
- São Paulo - is a state in the southeast of Brazil. It is the richest state in Brazil. It has the second highest per-capita income (lower than only the Federal District) and, with the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, the highest standard of living in Brazil, despite the poverty in some peripheral parts of the largest cities.
- Paraná - is a state in southern Brazil. With its strong northern European heritage, its culture is probably unlike most foreigners' image of Brazil. Cut by the Tropic of Capricorn, Paraná has what is left of the araucaria forest, one of the most important subtropical forests of the world. At the border with Argentina is the National Park of Iguaçu, considered by UNESCO as Patrimony of Humanity and the spectacle of the Cataratas do Iguaçu attracts about 700 thousand tourists per year. At only 40 km (24 miles) from there, at the border with Paraguay, the largest dam in the world was built, the Hidroelétrica de Itaipu. The State Park of Vila Velha near the city of Ponta Grossa, is another attraction, with great rocky formations sculpted by the erosion of rain and wind. Curitiba, the capital, is famous for its high quality of life, compared to the Brazilian average, and the Ilha do Mel, next to the historical Paranaguá, is another destination for eco-tourists.
- Rio Grande do Sul - in the region of Bento Gonçalves and Caxias do Sul, the largest wine producing center in Brazil, the attraction is Italian gastronomy. Besides the European influence, the gaúchos, or inhabitants of Rio Grande do Sul, cultivate the traditions of the Pampas — region of the border with Uruguay and Argentina — such as drinking mate (known as chimarrão drunk in special gourd cups), eating the typical barbecue, known as churrasco, and the traditional clothes are the bombachas (baggy trousers), boots and large hats, although the majority of the population dresses non-traditionally.
- Santa Catarina - 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. Joinville is Santa Catarina's largest city.
Highlights of Southern Brazil:
- Iguaçu Falls - The world-famous waterfalls. One of the great natural wonders of the world, the Iguaçu Falls (Portuguese: Cataratas do Iguaçu, Spanish: Cataratas del Iguazú, Tupi: Y Ûasu "big water") are situated near the border of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The area is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- Ilha Grande - is a beautiful Brazilian island, about 150 km from Rio de Janeiro and 450 km from São Paulo. The largest settlement on the island is called Vila Abrão.
- Itatiaia National Park - is a ruggedly beautiful region of lush forests, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, alpine meadows, and both primary and secondary Atlantic Rainforest. Though just 70 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, the park covers a broad range of elevations rising to 9100 ft. This range in altitudes contributes to a most diverse variety of habitats from lower elevation forest to alpine meadows surrounded by granite cliffs.
- Serra da Canastra National Park - is in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Created to protect the headwaters of the São Francisco river, the Serra da Canastra National Park is best known for its numerous waterfalls, diverse wildlife and for being a haven for the endangered Brazilian Merganser.
- Serra da Mantiqueira - its name originated from 'Amantikir' and means "mountain that cries." This is a geological formation dating from the era Archeozoic covers a massive rock that has large areas of uplands, and nearly three thousand and one thousand meters in altitude along the currencies of the states of Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro .
- Ilha do Mel - is an hourglass-shaped island just off the coast of Paraná.