Araguaia River

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Araguaia River

Araguaia River, a waterway that rises southwest of Goiás in Brazil and flows northward, forming the natural border between the states of Goiás and Mato Grosso and Tocantins and Pará, and covering a distance of 1,366 miles. It joins the Tocantins River at Bico do Papagaio. Midway through its course, the Araguaia separates into two branches that enclose the island of Bananal, the largest fluvial island in the world. Its basin covers 150,000 square miles. Without a firm riverbed, the Araguaia is long and shallow and includes many lakes with broad, white-sand beaches. During the summer, it floods well beyond its banks. Navigation is difficult, and until recently human habitation along the river has been scarce.

During the seventeenth century, explorations and raids out of São Paulo and Belém reached as far as the Araguaia in search of Indians from the various tribes in the region: Caiapó, Javaé, Carajá, Chambioá, Crixá, Xavánte, and Apinagé. The mining industry in Goiás and Mato Grosso during the eighteenth century did not contribute to the growth of the area's population. In the nineteenth century, the government of Goiás tried to encourage the formation of settlements in order to make navigation to the Pará possible. To this end military detachments were established at Leopoldina (today Aruaña), São José, and Santa Maria (today Araguacema), but the effort was not successful. It was not until the 1960s that true habitation of the valley occurred, aided by new means of communication as well as farming and ranching projects. Owing to the Araguaia's abundance of fish and to its beaches, tourism has developed into a growing industry.

On 26 October 1999 a federal court in Cuiabá suspended the licensing process of the Tocantins-Araguaia Hidrovia, an industrial waterway for transporting cargo, finding that its construction along the Tocantis and Araguaia Rivers would have benefited only agribusiness corporations and shipping and construction companies. However, the construction of small dams along the river has affected aquatic life and wetlands and resulted in increased catastrophic floods, principally affecting riverbank dwellers and indigenous communities.

See alsoBrazil, Geography .


Dalísia Elisabeth Martins Doles, As comunicações fluviais pelo Tocantins e Araguaia no século XIX (1973).

Couto De Magalhães, Viagem ao Araguaia, 7th ed. (1975).

Additional Bibliography

Almeida, R. Araguaia-Tocantins: Fios de uma História camponesa. Brasilia: Fórum Carajás, 2006.

Borges, Durval. Rio Araguaia, corpo e alma. São Paulo: Editorial Universidad de São Paulo, 1987.

De Mirada, Lima. O Dia-A-Dia no Araguaia. Goiânia, Brasil: Gráfica e Editora Lider, 1989.

Esterci, Neide. Conflito no Araguaia: Peões e posseiros contra a grande empresa. Petrópolis, Brasil: Vozes, 1987.

Gómez, Desider Kremling. "Brasil: Los bosques amazónicos, situación actual y perspectivas." In Amazonía: Selva y Bosques diez años después de Río, Edited by Censat-Agua Viva. Colombia, Brasil: Censat-Agua Viva, 2002.

                                            Luis PalacÍn