Santa Catarina, state in southern Brazil bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Argentina, and along the south by the Pelotas and Uruguay rivers. The interior region of Santa Catarina lagged significantly behind the coast in population and economic development until the twentieth century, even as Santa Catarina as a whole was overshadowed by states in Brazil such as São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul. Lages, the largest city in its interior, was founded in 1770 by cattle ranchers who gradually expanded land development west and north toward Paraná.
Until the expansion of the Brazil Railway Company into Santa Catarina after 1906, and its subsequent lumbering, sawmill, and colonization enterprises, landowners largely depended upon share-cropping to attract workers to the interior. One of Santa Catarina's most famous historical figures was José Maria, whose millenarian movement within the Contestado called for a restoration of the monarchy in opposition to the capitalist transformations of the beginning of the twentieth century. The railroad expansion and subsequent land boom had led to a convergence of national, international, and private interests in the removal of subsistence peasants or "squatters." To defeat the 15,000 peasant followers of José Maria after his death, the Brazilian army utilized nearly half its forces and $250,000 from 1912 to 1916.
In 2000 Santa Catarina had a population of 5,356,360. Since 1823 its capital city has been Florianópolis (originally Destêrro; renamed for President Floriano Peixoto in 1893). At present Santa Catarina's economy depends on cattle raising, coal mining, food processing, textiles, and petrochemical production. It has one of the best economies of any Brazilian state, and its inhabitants enjoy a relatively high standard of living. It is also a popular tourist destination, as its coastline boasts more than 500 beaches, including the famous beach resort Balneário Camboriú, where the two main beaches are linked by a cable car.
See alsoBrazil, Geography .
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Carolyn E. Vieira