top of page

Small Town Series: Brazil

Good Morning!

Here is another installment of the Small Town series. Today's country is Brazil. All of these small towns have 50,000 inhabitants or less. I will be covering 6 different towns in today's post. I have included as much as I can about each small town.

Population numbers come from


Iguape- 30,390 Inhabitants

Iguape is a municipality located into the Ribeira Valley in the southern portion of the state of São Paulo, Brazil. The population is 30,390 (2015 estimate) in an area of 1,977.96 km2 making it the largest municipality area in São Paulo state. The city was officially founded in December 3, 1538, and its historic constructions are classified as national heritage by the IPHAN since 2009. Its name has tupi origins and its translation means "in the river cove", 'y (water/river), kûá (cove) and pe (in). Because of its location, close to the limits established by the Tordesilhas Treaty, the Iguape region was the stage for constant disputes among Portuguese, Spanish, and French pirates who landed there in order to refill their vessels or to trade in their goods. The foundation of Iguape is sometimes attributed to Rui Garcia de Mosquera, a Spanish navigator and colonizer who established a good relationship with the Tupiniquin Indians.

In another unproved account, in 1498 a Spanish group landed in the region giving the name Iguape to a tiny village, in reference to a local Indian name for a common regional plant. Some years later, a French pirate vessel attacked Iguape and set fire to the village, destroying all official documentation. The veracity of those events is unknown, but there is no doubt that the first years of Iguape's history were strongly influenced by the presence of the Spanish.

With the discovery of gold at the end of the 16th century, Iguape was increasingly visited by adventurers searching for gold along the rivers. In 1635, there already existed the so-called "Casa da Oficina Real", the first money producing institution in Brazil (today Iguape's local museum). The discovery of gold at Serra da Paranapiacaba, in the interior of Vale do Ribeira, intensified the navigation of the Ribeira de Iguape River resulting in the formation of new villages such as Registro, Eldorado Paulista, Iporanga, Jacupiranga and Sete Barras. Around 1780, the gold cycle had come to an end and many families left the region. Nevertheless, since the beginning of the 18th century the fertile grounds of the Ribeira valley were converted into large rice plantations. The rice, of an excellent quality, was intensively commercialized in Iguape and from there exported to Europe.

From 1820 to 1900, Iguape experienced a period of great prosperity reaching its economic peak. Five rice factories were working day and night, filling on average 10 large vessels per week. Banks were financing the business, six newspapers were circulated in the city, and France maintained a permanent consulate in the city. The population was accustomed to attending shows from Europe.

At that time, Iguape was as important as Rio de Janeiro or Salvador. Consequently, the city had no difficulties in obtaining the necessary resources for the construction of one of the biggest and most controversial hydraulic installations on the Brazilian coast: The "Valo Grande" channel. Aside from rice, other products from the Ribeira valley were transported by boat to a fluvial port at the shore of the Ribeira river close to Iguape and from there, via a terrestrial connection, to the marine harbor where they were loaded into big ships. To facilitate and cheapen transport, Iguape solicited permission from king D. Pedro II in order to open a 4 km long and 2 m wide channel, connecting the fluvial port in the west with the marine port in the east. The request was approved by D. Pedro and after hard work the construction was concluded in 1855.

The construction, meant to improve Iguape's economic conditions, did not account for the fact that the voluminous waters of the river, now with access to a shorter connection to the sea, were flooding away the sandy banks of the river, invading the areas close to the river and threatening the whole region.With the natural destruction of the port, business turned inviable, resulting in quick economic deterioration of the region. Most people had to leave Iguape, and those who decided to stay experienced serious difficulties surviving by fishing and shrimping, which were significantly reduced in the coastal waters due to the large influx of fresh water.


Alcântara- 21,659 Inhabitants

Alcântara is a Brazilian municipality in the state of Maranhão. The city has a population of 21,659 (2015) and an area of 1458 km2. The municipality is 30 km away from the state's capital, São Luís. Founded by French explorers in the 16th century, Alcântara was later conquered by the Portuguese, who used the small village as a base to take São Luís from the Dutch in 1646. The city was declared by the Brazilian government as a National Historical Patrimony. The city's economy is based mainly on tourism and fishing. The climate is favorable, characterized by two well-defined seasons: a rainy season from January to June, and a dry season from July to December. The annual average temperature is 26.5 °C, and the wind blows predominantly from the east at an average speed of 12 m/s. The municipality contains a small part of the Baixada Maranhense Environmental Protection Area, a 1,775,035.6 hectares (4,386,208 acres) sustainable use conservation unit created in 1991 that has been a Ramsar Site since 2000. The Brazilian Space Agency maintains a launch site in Alcântara.


Morretes- 18,000 Inhabitants

Morretes is a small historic city of the Brazilian state of Paraná. It is famous for its restaurants, especially a traditional dish called barreado. It is also the home of many historical monuments.


Trancoso- 11,006 Inhabitants

Trancoso is a district in the municipality of Porto Seguro in the state of Bahia,Brazil. Once a small fishing village, the town is now known for its beaches and has increased in popularity since gaining international attention around 2000 while retaining an eco-friendly appeal. The region was the landing point of the Portuguese explorer, Pedro Alvares Cabral onto Brazil, on April 22, 1500. It was founded by Jesuit Priests in 1583, with the name São João Baptista dos Indios. Development of the beach town accelerated in 1999, when a highway opened linking to Trancoso to Porto Seguro, a commercial hub that has an airport.


Lençóis- 11,445 Inhabitants

Lençóis is a former diamond-mining town in Bahia, eastern Brazil. It borders the vast Chapada Diamantina National Park, a mountainous area with forests, waterfalls and caves. The town’s cobbled streets are lined with 19th-century buildings. The Casa de Cultura Afrânio Peixoto displays works and personal items of Peixoto, a Lençóis-born writer. Across the Lençóis River is the whitewashed Senhor dos Passos Church.


Tiradentes- 6,500 Inhabitants

Located at the bottom of the Serra de São José—a mountain range with a nearby trail that takes hikers through some stunning rock formations—Tiradentes is a part of Minas Gerais, a region known for its baroque architecture. The city’s baroque architecture is a stark comparison to the natural landscape hovering around Tiradentes: bright palettes of yellows, ceruleans, and reds covering homes huddled underneath the blue Serra de São José mountains.


There you have it 6 more small towns. I hope you are all staying safe and healthy. Have an awesome day :)


3 views0 comments


bottom of page