Paraty (Parati), the southernmost municipio (county) in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Paraty is a fish-hook-shaped, rain-soaked stretch of land hemmed in by the high escarpment of the Serra do Mar, the bay of Ilha Grande, and the Atlantic Ocean. Its original settlement was at the terminus of one of the principal Indian trails linking the coast with the Brazilian interior. Organized as a town in 1667, it remained until the end of the seventeenth century a small trading center with a sparse rural population involved in subsistence agriculture.
With the discovery of gold in Minas Gerais in 1693, Paraty was catapulted into importance; the newly improved mountain trail became the major conduit of men and goods moving from Rio de Janeiro to the mines. With the construction of a more direct route in 1718, however, the boom days for Paraty were over. From the late eighteenth to the latter part of the nineteenth century, Paraty became the principal point of shipment of produce, mainly coffee, from the developing Paraíba Valley to Rio de Janeiro.
Another, smaller, revival for the economy of Paraty came late in the nineteenth century with the production of cachaça, which is a sugarcane-derived spirit best known today as the basis for Brazil's most famous drink, the caipirinha. The name "Paraty" in that period became synonymous with cachaça.
Since Paraty was physically isolated, it did not change for centuries. From the eighteenth century through most of the early twentieth century, Paraty languished, although sugar was grown there, especially to make aguardente, and until the 1940s the word parati was synonymous with white rum. In 1966 the Brazilian government designated the town of Paraty a historical monument.
In the 1970s, Paraty's fortunes changed when a paved road was built from Rio de Janeiro to Santos, near São Paulo. The city then began a new cycle of activity that transformed a small, almost abandoned town living on very limited economic activity, mainly fishing and agriculture (bananas, manioc, and sugarcane), into what became known as one of the major tourist destinations in Brazil.
See alsoRio de Janeiro (Province and State) .
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Heitor Grugel Edelweiss Amaral, Paraty, caminho do ouro (1973).
Cafi, George Vidor. Um olhar sobre Angra e Paraty: Povo, cultura e meio ambiente. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Electronuclear, 1999.
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Oliveira Casadei, Thalita de. Paraty: Uma vida uma saudade. Rio de Janeiro: Sol Nascente, 1998.
James Patrick Kiernan