Paraíba River

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Paraíba River

Paraíba River (Paraíba Do Sol), the southern Paraíba River of Brazil. This river runs 600 miles from just northeast of the city of São Paulo through the state of Rio de Janeiro, at one stretch forming the boundary with the state of Minas Gerais, and empties into the Atlantic Ocean just south of Espírito Santo. Its major tributaries are the Pomba, the Muriaé, the Paraibuna, and the Pirai. While its name signifies "useless river" (from the Tupí para, great river, and aíba, bad sea), and it is not navigable, it carves out a once-fertile valley that is a major land transport route between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, and its waters power two hydroelectric plants. In the mid-nineteenth century the Paraíba Valley was Brazil's major coffee-producing region. Then the land-intensive agricultural techniques used in coffee production wore out the soil, and the coffee frontier moved constantly westward. The exhaustion of the soil, combined with the failure of the planters to modernize their production techniques and labor relations in the face of rising international competition and the imminent abolition of slavery (finally decreed in 1888), ultimately resulted in the decline of the export sector, from which the region has never recovered.

See alsoBrazil, Geography; Coffee Industry; Slave Trade, Abolition of: Brazil.


Additional Bibliography

Maia, Thereza Regina de Camago, and Tom Maia. O Vale Paulista da Río Paraíba: História, geografia, fauna, flora, folclore, cidades: guia cultural. Rio de Janeiro: Documenta Histórica Editora, 2005.

Marcondes, Renado Leite. A arte de acumular na economia cafeeira: Vale do Paraíba, século XIX. Lorena: Editora Stiliano, 1998.

Silva, Karla de Carvalho Rocha and Maria da Gloria Lampreia. Mulheres fluminenses do Vale do Paraíba: Histórias de luta e conquista da cidadania fememnina. Rio de Janeiro: Conselho Estadual dos Direitos da Mulher, 2001.

                                        Sueann Caulfield