Goiás, nestled in the heart of Brazil, is a state surrounded by Tocantins, Bahia, Mina Gerais, the Federal District of Brazil, Mato Grosso do Sul and Mato Grosso. It is the most populous state of the region and is characterised by its extensive plateaus.

Its driest period is between June and September, when the beaches of the Araguaia River are exposed by an amazing two extra kilometres due to the falling of the water level. This is a very popular tourist attraction, drawing hordes of visitors to Goiás each year.

Although originally inhabited by local tribes, which lived off the land and travelled from one suitable living spot to another, the area now known as Goiás was only discovered and explored by the Portuguese during the 17th century. When gold was discovered in 1682 in the gravel of the Araguaia River, a settlement was established there in the hopes of gaining vast fortunes from this valuable resource.

Araguaia River meandering through tropical rainforest in Brazil.

The first settlement was named Santa Anna, which was then made Goiás Velho, the former capital of this state. By 1744, the inland area had still not been explored much by the Europeans. Still, it was declared a captaincy general. It would remain this way until made a province in 1822 – the year Brazil gained independence from European rule. 1889 saw the province become a state. In 1956, Goiás became the site of the Federal District of Brazil and its capital, Brasilia.

Goiânia is the capital city of the state and is its largest. It is considered by many to be one of the world’s most desirable cities in which to live. Initially, the entire state covered more than 600 000 square kilometres (or 230 000 square miles), which is considerable. Therefore, in 1989, it was split and the northern half was made the separate state of Tocantins, while the southern half remained Goiás.

Goiás is located on a huge plateau in the highlands of Brazil in the country’s central area. It varied from being about 750 to 900 metres above sea level. It is drained by several major rivers, including Paranaíba River, São Francisco River, Araguaia River and the Corumbá River.

The vegetation of Goiás is defined as woodland savannah. However, much of this, as well as some of the tropical rainforests that line the rivers, have been damaged and destroyed to make way for farming. The tropical climate means pleasant daytime temperatures, even in the winter months.

Within the Federal District and other urban areas, this state is densely populated. However, as soon as one ventures out of these epicentres, the population numbers decrease significantly. There are almost 6 000 000 people living in Goiás at present.

The service sector contributes the largest percentage to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the state, followed by the industrial and agricultural sectors. Cattle farming continues to generate an enormous revenue for the inhabitants, while the agriculture of sugarcane, tomatoes, rice, cotton and beans also plays a major role.

Shot of an adobe shanty house in the countryside of Goiás, also known as "Cerrado". Adobe is an earth-made mortar and these are very humble constructions.

Some of the most popular tourist attractions in Goiás include:

• Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park
• The city of Goiás (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
• Emas National Park (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
• The city of Pirenópolis

Here is the Goiás Government web site: http://www.goias.gov.br/

This web site is in no way connected to any government agency in any shape or form.