São Paulo is the richest and most populous state in Brazil and its capital city, bearing the same name, is the largest city in all of South America. As such, São Paulo is one of the country’s and, indeed, the continent’s most significant areas. In fact, it contributes over a third of Brazil’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
It has a population of more than 41 million people and has a total area of 248 209.4 square kilometres, which is equivalent to 95 834 square miles.
Hunter-gatherers once occupied the area now known as São Paulo. However, in about 1510, a shipwreck is believed to have brought Portuguese sailors into this region.
Paradise beach in Ilhabela, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The first official settlers were João Ramalho and Antonio Rodrigues. Then, some 22 years later, an official colonial expedition was arranged and the first colony established. Europeans vied for political control over Brazil, whether as a whole or in terms of its captaincies. This led to a considerable amount of fighting through the ages. Because the main city area was located at the mouth of the Tietê-Paranapanema River, this region was perfect for the expeditions that brought slaves into Brazil from Africa. In 1807, Brazil became the base headquarters of the growing Portuguese empire.
This was only a temporary situation, but proved invaluable to the economic rise of São Paulo. The various ports throughout the country were opened to ships other than those owned by the Portuguese and manufacturing restrictions were lifted. In 1822, Brazil gained independence, and had to overcome its political and economic struggles alone. São Paulo has continued to be a formidable force in the country’s rise to and coveted position within the global arena.
São Paulo enjoys a tropical to subtropical climate, depending on the altitude. It is generally warm and mild all year round, with some areas experiencing chilly night-time lows. The three most significant cities in São Paulo (in terms of population and development) are São Paulo, Guarulhos and Campinas.
The service segment of the economy is São Paulo’s most significant in terms of contribution to GDP. It is followed by industry and agriculture. São Paulo’s main exports are vehicles, aeroplanes, helicopters and sugar.
One of the characteristics of this state is the unequal distribution of wealth. There are various centres that are very rich (such as Campinas, Paulínia, Indaiatuba, São José dos Campos and Santos), while very poor areas lie slightly further afield.
Tourism is a very important part of the economy of São Paulo as well as of the preservation of its heritage resources. It is acclaimed for its beaches, which stretch for miles, inviting sun-worshippers from all over the world to indulge themselves in the glorious sunshine. Other popular attractions include:
• The capital city, São Paulo, which alone hosts approximately 45 000 different events every year.
• The Tourist State Park of Alto Ribeira (PETAR).
• Hopi Hari, a major theme park.
• The city of Campos do Jordao.
• New Basilica (Basílica Nova) and Old Basilica (Basílica Velha).
• The Institute of Oceanography
• Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes Festival
• Avenue Paulista (home to many museums and other cultural hotspots).
• Catedral da Sé (the metropolitan cathedral).
• The historical railway station of Estação da Luz (dating back to 1895).
• Ibirapuera Park.
• Mooca (the Italian district of São Paulo) and Liberdade (the Asian district).
• Pátio do Colégio (the founding site of the city).