The State of São Paulo

About the State of São Paulo

When talking about the state of São Paulo, the superlative form is a must. It is the state with the country's largest population, largest industrial complex, highest economic production, the one that receives the largest number of immigrants and, as expected, the most cosmopolitan state in South America. São Paulo was built thanks to hardworking people coming from all over the country and the world, who kept the vocation for work statewide.

São Paulo has 645 municipalities and a population of approximately 40 million inhabitants. With the country's best infrastructure and a highly skilled labor force, São Paulo can be called "Brazil's locomotive". All kinds of products are manufactured in the state, mainly high tech items. Its strong points, however, are not only related to the industry. Paulistas - São Paulo inhabitants - have also transformed agriculture and livestock farming into a potency. As regards the Economy, there are more than 258 malls spread nationwide, 155 of which in the Southern region, responsible for more than 300,000 job positions, aside from a comprehensive wholesale and retail chain nationwide. São Paulo's participation in the Brazilian banking system reaches almost 50% in volume terms. Also, Latin America's largest Stock Exchange is located in the state's capital.

The habit of working and the vocation for making businesses is a characteristic of São Paulo. Thanks to its hardworking people, paulistas managed to transform São Paulo into the most important state in economic terms in Latin America. São Paulo is not only that, however. Aside from its thousands cultural attractions, it also offers good tourism options. Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, its coastline has 622 kilometers of beaches of all kinds and sizes. In the north shore, there are several beaches in several municipalities such as Bertioga, São Sebastião, Caraguatatuba, and Ubatuba, apart from some islands, one of which Ilha Bela, a paradise for those who like windsurfing and sailing. In the South shore, in cities such as Iguape and Cananéia, there are some of the planet's most important preserved natural areas, such as Estação Ecológica Juréia-Itatins and Ilha do Cardoso, in Logamar – Complexo Estuarino Lagunar de Iguape, Cananéia, Antonina, and Parananguá.

Serra do Mar

The cliff of Serra do Mar divides the state's seashore and the plateau. Part of the Atlantic Forest, it was a major obstacle to be overcome in the previous centuries. Today, this door to the state's Countryside is a focus of attention of Reserva da Biosfera da Mata Atlântica and other organizations that work to preserve this ecosystem that now occupies only 5% of its original area. In the state's countryside, tourists have the chance of doing rural and ecological tourism, of knowing ranches, cities with European climate, waterfalls, caves, rivers, hills, mineral water springs, natural parks, buildings built in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, churches and archeological sites.

The Serra do Mar is a 1500 km. scarp running parallel to the Atlantic coast in Southeastern eco travels in Brazil, separating the coastal strip, the littoral, from the planalto beyond, the traditional home of Brazil's coffee plantations. The mountains attain a height of 2787m, in the case of Pico de Agulhas Negras, in Itaitaia National Park, one of Brazil's highest summits. The mountain system includes a number of ranges with individual names, such as Serra da Bocaina, Serra da Mantiqueira, Serra Negra, Serra Quilombo, Serra de Paranapiacaba, Serra dos Orgaos, etc., and is not confined to the main land; the islands of the south-east coast such as Ilha Bela and Ilha Grande are part of the same range. The ecosystem supported throughout the region is known as Mata Atlantica, or Atlantic Rainforest, which originally continued up the littoral as far as Bahia; vestiges of Atlantic forest even exist in isolated areas near Natal on the northeast.

The Serra do Mar is under immense pressure from the population centres of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, as well as from the development of mass tourism, farming, deforestation, poaching and palmito (palm heart) thieves. In response to this threat, the state agencies for environment (Meio Ambiente,) in Sao Paulo and Rio have created a chain of State parks, Ecological stations, Biological Reserves, etc., forming a thread of protected areas along the length of the Serra. These areas are still subject to the ravages of developers, archaic land registration, and simple ignorance of the law, but the Serra do Mar still contains large tracts of virgin forest, often connected by trails used by the local population, varying in hiking time from a few hours to several days. This piece concentrates on the best preserved nuclei, considered best preserved parts of the Serra do Mar which are accessible to the determined traveller, the Parque Nacional da Serra da Bocaina, the Parque Nacional de Itatiaia, and the Parque Estadual Turistico do Alto Ribeira (PETAR).

Parque National da Serra da Bocaina

Inland from Parati, Angra dos Reis, and Mamucaba on the coast, is the Parque National da Serra da Bocaina, which offers the best opportunity to get to know the landscape of the Serra do Mar on foot. Created in 1961, the National Park covers 100,000 ha, the majority Rio do Janeiro state, and a small portion in Sao Paulo. The highest point of the park is the Pico Tira Chapeu at 2132m. The northern limits of Bocaina are Cunha, Sao Jose do Barreiro and Bananal. Further north of these you are in the Paraiba Valley; the word Bocaina means literally the space between two mountains.

The principal path through the Park is known as the Trilha do Ouro, the Gold Trail. The trail was built by the salves of the early 18th century to bring gold down to the coast, to be loaded into Lisbon bound boats. Parati at that time was more important than Rio, and thousands of slave hours went into creating this major link to the interior. The trail can be traced through to Minas Gerais state, the last marked 30km stretch linking Ouro Branco and Ouro Preto, 500km to the north. Today the Minas landscape has been decimated by mining and deforestation for smelting, but the 100 km stretch over the Serra do Mar to the coast at Mambucaba is still intact, and offers a very attractive walk, passing stretches of virgin forest, at least three powerful waterfalls more than 50m high and a number of farms inhabited long before the National Park boundaries were drawn. The superb views give out to beyond this farmed strip over pristine Serra do Mar beauty; an unbroken canopy dotted with purple quaresmeira flowers, falcons and eagles soaring overhead. On clear days one can see right down to the base of the hills and out over Parati and the Atlantic, where the stone path meets the "planicie", the alluvial plain before the sea, where the river Mambucaba ceases its dramatic final gush down the mountain shelf.

To visit to the park, permission must be obtained from the park administration, in São Jose do Barreiro, either in writing or in person, at least 10 days in advance of any entrance to the park. The permit must be presented at the park gate, 26km up the road from Sao Jose do Barreiro before entering. Depending on just how much advance notice you give, the permit is either kept in the head office or sent up the road for collection.

Travel information

For hotel reservation or information regarding traveling to São Paulo (or Brazil) please send an e-mail to Travel SCL 2016.