Serra Do Mar

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Serra Do Mar

Serra Do Mar, a thousand-mile escarpment that runs from northern Río Grande do Sul into Espírito Santo. In many places the Serra do Mar rises straight from the sea, itself forming the coastline. The sharpness of its peaks and the dense rain forest combine to form an almost impenetrable barrier from the Brazilian plateau to the sea. During the early colonial period it was a great obstacle to trade and commerce between the coast and São Paulo. The highest peak is the Pedra do Sino, which reaches 7,323 feet. The greatest rainfall in the country occurs on the escarpment near São Paulo.

Amerindians had long known about passages through the Serra do Mar and taught the European colonists about them. In 1790 a stone road was built across the Serra, but it was not kept in repair and eventually deteriorated until unsafe for use. A franchise was granted in 1840 to Thomas Cochrane, an Englishman, to build a railroad across the escarpment, but difficulties in financing and engineering delayed completion of the project until 1863. The abundant waters along the Serra do Mar contributed to the industrialization of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo during the late nineteenth century.

See alsoBrazil, Geography .


Sergio Buarque De Holanda, História geral da civilização brasileira (1967).

Additional Bibliography

Gallindo Leal, Carlos and Ibsen de Gusmão Camara. The Atlantic Forest of South America: Biodiversity Status, Threats, and Outlook. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2003.

The Rainforest of the Serra do Mar: Degradation and Reconstitution. São Paulo: The Secretariat, 1990.

                                          Sheila L. Hooker