Espírito Santo, directly translated to “Holy Spirit” in English, is a Brazilian state situated in the southeast of this intriguing South American country. It was given this name in reference to the Holy Ghost, believed by some Christian religions to be the third part of a trinity God (along with God, himself and His son, Jesus Christ). This is in response to the Catholic religion, introduced by the Europeans during colonisation in the 16th century, which taught the locals Christian doctrines and methods of worship. The capital of Espírito Santo is Vitória, which is situated on an island. Because of its extensive coastline, this state is well known for its sand dunes, ports, and beaches. It is also acclaimed for the forró, a unique style of dance.
Espírito Santo was once home to the semi-nomadic tribes of centuries ago. These ones lived off the land and its natural resources. However, when the European explorers began to travel the world, they soon ‘discovered’ Brazil and began a long process of Portuguese colonisation. The Portuguese introduced slavery, bringing labourers to South America from Africa. Later, the black descendents of these slaves as well as those of the original Portuguese settlers formed the new culture and society of Espírito Santo, marrying one another and creating a society of mixed races, languages and religious orientations.
Vila Velha was initially decided upon as the area’s capital but, due to frequent raids by the local nomadic peoples, was moved to Vitória. In 1556, other places were founded, including Serra, Nova Almeida and Santa Cruz. The area was under the political control of the Coutinho family for 140 years. Finally, in 1821, it was named a province. When Brazil gained independence from European rule in 1822, the District Directors were renamed Provincial Presidents. Finally, in 1889, Espírito Santo was declared a state.
Espírito Santo covers a total area of 46 180 square kilometres (or 17 830 square miles). Because of its positioning, this state enjoys many different types of vegetation and habitats, which are home to an array of wildlife. These habitats range from lakes and forests to coastal stretches and mangroves. There are also a number of islands that belong to the state of Espírito Santo. Its main river is Doce and its most important lake district lies on the banks of this important waterway.
Espírito Santo enjoys a tropical climate along the coast, with dry winters and wet summers. Where the landscape becomes more mountainous inland, the temperatures naturally drop.
The vast majority (well over 80%, in fact) of the population in Espírito Santo lives in the urban areas. The service sector is the largest in terms of its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the state. This sector makes up approximately half of the state’s industry contribution and is followed by the industrial sector, which accounts for just under half of the GDP. Agriculture is also an important sector, and Espírito Santo produces some very important crops, such as rice, coffee, sugarcane, bananas, maize and cacao.
Tourism attractions in Espírito Santo include:
• Guarapari (renowned for its curative black sand beaches)
• Jacaraípe and Manguinhos (both coastal areas)
• Domingos Martins (a spectacular mountain retreat)