Brazil Paraná, southern state whose capital is Curitiba. Paraná covers 79,730 square miles and had a population of 8,443,299 in 1991 and 10,261,256 in 2005. Its boundaries are São Paulo State on the north, Mato Grosso State on the west, Paraguay across the Paraná River, Argentina on the southwest, Santa Catarina State on the south, and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. Settlement of the territory began on the coast at the end of the sixteenth century with the search for indigenous peoples as slave workers and for precious metals. In 1765 the territory of Paraná was absorbed by the captaincy of São Paulo and constituted its fifth county until 1853, when it gained autonomy as the province of Paraná. The population, which was composed of Indians, Europeans, and enslaved and free blacks, registered a greater increase after 1850 through European immigration (mainly Italians, Poles, Ukrainians, and Germans). After the decline of mining, cattle breeding expanded rapidly in the uplands, but it, too, decreased, until by 1820 agriculture production was mainly at the subsistence level. Then yerba maté production was developed, which constituted Brazil's main export until World War I. The coffee growing that was started in 1920 in northern Paraná resulted in Brazil's becoming the world's largest producer. However, after 1960 inadequate economic policies and cold winters diminished the region's crops. Currently, Paraná produces 25 percent of Brazil's soybeans, wheat, beans, potatoes, cotton, ramie, castor beans, barley, oats, and rice—all of which are of economic significance.
See alsoBrazil, Geography .
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MÁrcia Elisa de Campos Graf