Owner of the second largest industrial park in Brazil, Minas Gerais is one of the three richest states in the country. The mineral and steel sectors stand out, alongside historic tourism. Cradle of the gold cycle, Minas brings the marks of the past.
Until the middle of the 17th century, the Portuguese-Brazilian presence in the current territory of Minas Gerais was limited to some cattle farms established by groups that, coming from Bahia, had advanced through the São Francisco valley . The hinterlands were also covered by the São Paulo flags , in search of precious metals and natives to enslave.
At the end of the 17th century, the pioneers discovered the first gold deposits. Then the effective occupation of the current mining territory began, intensified in the 1720s with the encounter of diamonds in the region that today corresponds to the municipality of Diamantina. Gold and diamonds were sent to Portugal through the ports of Parati and Rio de Janeiro.
The news of the discovery of these riches attracted a large population contingent to the area, which generated numerous conflicts over the ownership of the mines. One of the most significant was the War of Emboabas , which lasted from 1707 to 1710. It consisted of a confrontation for the control of the gold regions between the Paulistas, who had discovered the deposits and, for this reason, considered themselves their rightful owners, and the emboabas, term with which paulistas designated “foreigners”, especially the groups of Portuguese and Bahians.
According to Recipesinthebox.com, the paulistas were defeated and looked for new prospecting regions. The Portuguese Crown then began to control the extracted metal, with the collection of taxes and greater vigilance over the mining.
The camps sprouted like mushrooms in the mining regions and were soon elevated to the category of villages. The most important were Sabará , Vila Rica (now Ouro Preto) and Ribeirão do Carmo (now Mariana). The latter was the headquarters of the captaincy of São Paulo and Minas de Ouro, created in 1709. After 11 years of subordination of the gold backlands to São Paulo, the metropolis created the Captaincy of Minas Gerais.
In the following decades, the revolt against the high taxes levied by Portugal on the extracted gold grew in the mining towns. In 1789, the movement known as Inconfidência Mineira was organized , which aimed at the independence of Minas Gerais. Discovered due to the betrayal of one of its members, the conspiracy was severely repressed. Its leaders were sentenced to exile or death.
The most famous of them, Ensign Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, known as Tiradentes , was hanged and his body was quartered.
At the end of the 18th century, gold began to run out and the territory plunged into a process of economic stagnation. The situation would only begin to revert in the 20th century, with livestock and the exploitation of iron ore deposits.
However, the so-called gold cycle has definitively displaced the Brazilian economic axis from the Northeast to the Southeast. With the mines exhausted, many miners were the pioneers in coffee cultivation in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
The Minas Gerais flag bears the motto of Inconfidência Mineira: “Liberdade although late”, extracted from a Latin verse by the Roman poet Virgílio. The triangle symbolizes the Holy Trinity.
Largest state in the Southeast, Minas Gerais has an extension of 586,528 km 2 . It is limited to the north with Bahia , to the northwest with Goiás , to the west with Mato Grosso do Sul, to the southwest with São Paulo , to the east with Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo . It has no exit to the sea, but enjoys an important geographic centrality. It is the state with the largest number of municipalities, 853 in total, grouped by the IBGE in 12 geographical mesoregions.
The cerrado is the predominant vegetation cover in the territory of Minas Gerais, occupying about 50% of the stretches located mainly along the basins of the Jequitinhonha and São Francisco rivers. It is characterized by appearing in areas of climate with alternation between a dry and a humid season, in a mosaic of shrub and tree species.
The Atlantic Forest occupies the areas with the most humid climate; presents great biodiversity, with the predominance of broadleaved species. In the highest relief stretches, marked by lower thermal averages and low rainfall, the landscape is covered by herbaceous species, forming rupestrian fields.
In the north of Minas Gerais, in the São Francisco valley, thorny species appear with few leaves in the dry season and that bloom during the rainy season. It is called Mata Seca .
In geomorphological terms, mining lands are those with the highest average altitude in the national territory. There are numerous crystalline escarpments with altitudes above 600 meters. The Mantiqueira , Caparaó , Canastra and Espinhaço mountains stand out . The latter has a high concentration of iron ore and manganese ores, which are among the greatest wealth of the state.
Minas Gerais stands out in relation to water resources, with many springs in its various rugged areas. The Serra da Canastra houses a large number of headwaters of the rivers in the São Francisco basin, including the “Velho Chico”. In the southeast of the territory, the Doce River basin is born , and in the northeast, the Jequitinhonha basin .
There are also the three sub-basins of the rivers Grande , Paraíba do Sul and Pardo-Mucuri . Due to the abundance of water, the state came to be called the “water tank of Brazil”.