Minas Gerais

Minas Gerais
State of Minas Gerais
—  State  —


Coat of arms
Motto: Libertas Quae Sera Tamen (Latin)
"Freedom albeit Late"
Location of State of Minas Gerais in Brazil
Coordinates: 19°49′S 43°57′W / 19.817°S 43.95°W / -19.817; -43.95Coordinates: 19°49′S 43°57′W / 19.817°S 43.95°W / -19.817; -43.95
Country  Brazil
Capital and Largest City Belo Horizonte
 - Governor Antônio Anastasia (PSDB)
 - Vice Governor
 - Total 586,528.29 km2 (226,459.8 sq mi)
Area rank 4th
Population (2010 census)[1]
 - Total 19,595,309
 - Rank 2nd
 - Density 33.4/km2 (86.5/sq mi)
 - Density rank 14th
Demonym Mineiro
 - Year 2006 estimate
 - Total R$ 214,814,000,000 (3rd)
 - Per capita R$ 11,028 (10th)
 - Year 2005
 - Category 0.800 – high (9th)
Time zone BRT (UTC-3)
 - Summer (DST) BRST (UTC-2)
Postal Code 30000-000 to 39990-000
ISO 3166 code BR-MG
Website mg.gov.br

Minas Gerais (Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈminɐz ʒeˈɾajs])[2] is one of the 26 states of Brazil, of which it is the second most populous, the third richest, and the fourth largest in area. Minas Gerais is the Brazilian state with the largest number of Presidents of Brazil, the current one, Dilma Rousseff, being one of them. The capital is the city of Belo Horizonte, located near the central area. The main producer of coffee and milk in the country, Minas Gerais is known for its heritage of architecture and colonial art in historical cities such as Ouro Preto, Diamantina, Tiradentes and Mariana. In the south, the tourist points are the hydro mineral spas, such as Caxambu, São Lourenço, São Thomé das Letras, Monte Verde and the national parks of Caparaó and Canastra. The landscape of the State is marked by mountains, valleys, and large areas of fertile lands. In the Serra do Cipó, Sete Lagoas, Cordisburgo and Lagoa Santa, the caves and waterfalls are the attractions. Some of Brazil's most famous caverns are located there.



There are two interpretations for the origin of the name Minas Gerais.[3] It comes from "Minas dos Matos Gerais", the former name of the colonial province (either "Mines of the General Woods" or "General Mines of the Woods", depending on which noun the word "Gerais" is taken to modify). So a first and more common understanding affirms that the name simply means "General Mines", with the word Gerais serving as an adjective to the mines, which were themselves spread in several spots around a larger region. Another explanation is that this ignores the two large geographical spaces which conformed the state in its history: the region of the mines (Minas), and the region of the Gerais ("Matos Gerais" or "Campos Gerais", which means something close to "General Fields"). These corresponded to the areas of Sertão which were farther and hard to access (with an economy based on farming and agriculture) from the mining spots (whose economic space was urban from its origin[4]). The confusion comes from the fact that the term "Gerais" is taken as an adjective to "Minas" in the first version, although according to this point of view it refers to the region called Gerais (as a noun). A further complication is that this is not a well defined area on the map of the state, but rather a designation to these parts outside the mining spots, more related to the geography of Sertão, and more isolated from the state's nucleus.


Minas Gerais is in the west of the southeastern subdivision of Brasil, which also contains the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo. It borders on Bahia and Goiás (north), Mato Grosso do Sul (far west), the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (south) and the state of Espírito Santo (east). It also shares a short boundary with the Brazilian Federal District. Minas Gerais is situated between 14°13'58" and 22°54'00" S latitude and between 39°51'32" and 51°02'35" W longitude.


Minas Gerais features some of the longest rivers in Brazil, most notably the São Francisco, the Paraná and to a lesser extent, the Rio Doce. The state also holds many hydroelectric power plants, including Furnas. Some of the highest peaks in Brazil are in the mountain ranges in the southern part of the state, such as Serra da Mantiqueira and Serra do Cervo, that mark the border between Minas and its neighbors São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The most notable one is the Pico da Bandeira, the third highest mountain in Brazil at 2890 m, standing on the border with Espírito Santo state. The state also has huge reserves of iron and sizeable reserves of gold and gemstones, including emerald, topaz and aquamarine mines.

Each region of the state has a distinct character, geographically and to a certain extent culturally.

  • The central and eastern area of the state is hilly and rocky, with little vegetation on the mountains. Around Lagoa Santa and Sete Lagoas a typical Karst topography with caves and lakes is found. Some of the mountains are almost entirely iron ore, which led to extensive mining (in some places at the expense of the environment). Recent advances in environmental policy helped to put limits to mining. About 200 kilometres (120 mi) to the east of Belo Horizonte is the second Metropolitan Region of the state, Vale do Aço (steel valley), which has iron and steel processing companies along the course of the Rio Doce and its tributaries. Vale do Aço's largest cities are Ipatinga, Coronel Fabriciano and Timóteo. Now that mining is restricted large areas of forest are being removed for timber, charcoal and to clear land for cattle ranching. The original forest cover of these inland hills is very much fragmented. The city of Governador Valadares is in the limit of this region with the poorer North.
  • The south of Minas Gerais is hilly and green, with coffee and milk production. This region is notably cooler than the rest of the state, and some locations are subject to temperatures just below the freezing point during the winter. The region is also famed for its mineral-water resorts, including the cities of Poços de Caldas, São Lourenço and Caxambu. Many industries are located at Varginha and Pouso Alegre.
  • The southeast of the state, called Zona da Mata (Forest Zone) was the richest region until the mid 20th century, nowadays the biggest city, Juiz de Fora, remains an important industrial, cultural and educational center, being also the fourth largest in the Minas state. The day-to-day living in the Zona da Mata however, is better represented by a group of smaller cities like Além Paraíba, Viçosa, Leopoldina, Cataguases, Muriaé, Ubá, Astolfo Dutra and several others. Those cities put together a strong economic presence based mostly on agriculture, textiles and minerals. The city of the coffee in Minas Gerais is São João do Manhuaçú situated in Zona da Mata.
  • The west of Minas Gerais, also known as "Triângulo Mineiro" (which means "the Minas Triangle", due to the geographic shape of this region), is composed of a particular type of savanna, known as Cerrado. This region was initially occupied by great free-wheeling beef ranches, which are still important for the economy of the region. Over the 1990s, extensive soy and corn farms occupied much of the farming land available. The Cerrado is also one of the principal coffee-growing areas of Brazil. The main cities of this region are Uberlândia, Uberaba and Patos de Minas.
  • The north of Minas Gerais is arid, being subject to frequent droughts. Recent irrigation projects use the water from the São Francisco river for agriculture; the river crosses the northern region carrying water from its basin in the central area of the state, which is subject to a regular rainfall pattern. The diamond mines of this region, manly in Diamantina, attracted miners but are now exhausted, and the remaining population lives in poor conditions, especially in the valley of the Jequitinhonha River. The region is, however, known for its high quality cachaça production. Salinas in particular exports large amounts of this beverage. The main cities of this region are Montes Claros and Teófilo Otoni.
Serra da Mantiqueira.  
Flowers in Serra do Cipó.  
Waterfall in Serra da Canastra.  
Waterfall in Serra do Cipó.  




The discovery of the Maxakalisaurus topai (Dinoprata) fossils was a significant paleontological find. The fossil is a genus of titanosaurid dinosaur found 45 kilometers (28 mi) from the city of Prata (Triângulo Mineiro), in the state of Minas Gerais in 1998. It was closely related to Saltasaurus, a sauropod considered unusual because it had evolved apparently defensive traits, including bony plates on its skin and vertical plates along its spine; such osteoderms have also been found for Maxakalisaurus. The genus name is derived from the tribe of the Maxakali; Topa is one of their divinities.

The Maxakalisaurus fossils belonged to an animal about 13 meters (43.3 ft) long, with an estimated weight of 9 tons, although, according to paleontologist Alexander Kellner, it could reach a length of approximately 20 meters (65 ft). It had a long neck and tail, ridged teeth (unusual among sauropods) and lived about 80 million years ago. Because sauropods seem to have lacked significant competition in South America, they evolved there with greater diversity and more unusual traits than elsewhere in the world. A replica has been displayed at the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro, since August 28, 2006.[1]


Baruch, 18th century Baroque architecture, by Aleijadinho.

Minas Gerais was formed mainly by colonists who searched for veins of gold (discovered 1693) and gems, and later diamonds which come from the naturally occurring itacolumite rock that can be found in great numbers in the region. These helped to boost occupation of the inner lands and led to the foundation of several new villages. In 1697, the Portuguese used enslaved African labor to start building the Estrada Real, the "royal road," that would connect the ports of cities of Rio de Janeiro and Paraty to the mineral-rich regions of Ouro Preto, Serro, and, at the northernmost point, Diamantina.[5] The first capital and seat of the local see was the city of Mariana; it was later moved to Vila Rica. In the late 18th century, Vila Rica was the largest city in Brazil and one of the most populous in America. As the gold mines were exhausted over the 19th century, the city lost its importance; it was later renamed Ouro Preto and remained the state capital until the construction of the all-new, planned city of Belo Horizonte at the turn of the 20th century. The gold cycle left its mark in cities such as Mariana, Ouro Preto, Diamantina, Sabará, Tiradentes and São João del Rei. The relative isolation from European influence, added to the huge influx of gold and other valuable minerals, helped the local people to develop their own style of art, which became known as Barroco Mineiro. Prime examples of this period are the richly decorated churches at the colonial cities, some of them preserved today as museums. The most important artist of this period was Antônio Lisboa, who became known as Aleijadinho. His statues and paintings are now highly valued by experts as one of the most refined artistic expressions outside Europe at that time.

In addition to art and architecture, there was an explosion of musical activity in Minas Gerais in the 18th century. Printed copies of European music, as well as accomplished musicians, made the journey to the area, and soon a local school of composition and performance was born and achieved considerable sophistication. Several composers worked in Minas Gerais in the 18th century, mainly in Vila Rica (now Ouro Preto), Sabará, Mariana, and other cities. Some of the names which have survived include José Joaquim Emerico Lobo de Mesquita, Marcos Coelho Netto, Francisco Gomes da Rocha and Ignácio Parreiras Neves; they cultivated a style related to the classical European style but marked by more a more chordal, homophonic sound, and they usually wrote for mixed groups of voices and instruments.

Guimarães Rosa's literature is highly situated in the Gerais, and they serve as an example of a space which is widespread (hence the term General) across the state (although more concentrated in its north) rather than neatly delimited and identifiable. This northern area began to be colonized (with brutal conflicts with the large amerindian population who lived in some parts, especially in Vale do Jequitinhonha) and turned accessible also departing southbound from Bahia up north, which made the Portuguese crown insert the region within the state of Minas Gerais's borders, in order to prevent gold and diamond smuggling and people trying to avoid colonial taxation and vigilance, for the state of MG was more closely watched by the crown.

During the 18th century, mining exploration was strongly controlled by the Portuguese Crown, which imposed heavy taxes on everything extracted (one fifth of all gold would go to the Crown). Several rebellions were attempted by the colonists, always facing strong reaction by the imperial crown. One of the most important was the Felipe dos Santos revolt that ended with his execution but also with the separation of Minas Gerais of São Paulo. The most notable one, however, was the Inconfidência, started in 1789 by group of middle-class colonists, mostly intellectuals and young officers. They were inspired by the American and French Enlightenment ideals. The conspiracy failed and the rebels were arrested and exiled. The most famous of them, Joaquim José da Silva Xavier (known as Tiradentes), was hanged by order of Queen Maria I of Portugal, becoming a local hero and a national martyr of Brazil. The Minas Gerais flag — a red triangle on a white background — is based on the design for the national flag proposed by the "Inconfidentes", as the rebels became known.

In the economic history of Brazil, Minas Gerais plays a pivotal role in shifting the economic axis from the Brazilian northeast (based on sugarcane, that starts declining in the 18th century) to the southeast of the country, which still remains the major economic center. The large amounts of gold found in the region attracted the attention of Portugal back to Brazil, progressively turning Rio de Janeiro into an important port city, from where these would be shipped to Portugal and where the Portuguese crown would eventually move its administration in 1808 after Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion of Portugal (see Transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil).

Due to the economic importance of the state and the particular traits of the local population — famed for its reserved and balanced character — Minas Gerais has also played an important role on national politics. During the 19th century, politicians such as José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva were instrumental in the establishment of the Brazilian Empire under the rule of Dom Pedro I and later his son, Dom Pedro II. After the installation of the Brazilian Republic, during the early 20th century, Minas Gerais shared the control of the national political scene with São Paulo in what became known as the "Coffee with Cream" political cycle (coffee being the major product of São Paulo, and cream representing Minas Gerais' dairy industry, despite the latter also being an important coffee producer).

Minas Gerais was also home to two of the most influential Brazilian politicians of the second half of the 20th century. Juscelino Kubitschek was president from 1956 to 1961, and he was responsible for the construction of Brasília as the new capital of Brazil. Tancredo Neves had an extensive political career that culminated with his election in 1984 to be the first civil president after the 1964 military countercoup. However, he died after a series of health complications just as he was about to assume the position. Also, Itamar, Brazil's previous president, lived there, though he was not born in Minas

See also the List of Governors of Minas Gerais.

Ouro Preto and its colonial Portuguese architecture.  
Minas Gerais, 1865.  
Sanctuary of Bom Jesus de Matozinhos - Congonhas.  
São João del Rei.  


Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais.
Oscar Niemeyer's Church of São Francisco de Assis, in Pampulha.

According to the IBGE of 2008, there were 19,765,000 people residing in the state. The population density was 32.73 inhabitants per square kilometre (84.8 /sq mi).

Urbanization: 84.7% (2006); Population growth: 1.4% (1991–2000); Houses: 5,741,000 (2006).[6]

The last PNAD (National Research for Sample of Domiciles) census revealed the following numbers: 9,091,000 White people (45.68%), 8,927,000 Brown (Multiracial) people (44.85%), 1,802,000 Black people (9.05%), 40,000 Asian people (0.20%), 37,000 Amerindian people (0.18%).[7]

Ethnic groups found in Minas Gerais include: Amerindians, Portuguese, Africans, Italians, Germans and Lebanese.

The ethnic composition of the population varies from town to town. For example, in Córrego do Bom Jesus, a small town located in the extreme south of Minas Gerais, White people make up 98.70% of the population.[8] On the other hand, in Setubinha, located in the northeast part of the state, 71.81% are mixed-race and 14.70% Blacks.[8] It is historically explainable: southern Minas Gerais, in the border with São Paulo, received larger numbers of Portuguese farmers in colonial times. In the late 19th century, Italian immigrants also arrived. The north region, close to Bahia, was a place to the arrival of many African slaves since the 18th century. The central part of the state, where the capital Belo Horizonte is, has a more balanced ratio between Whites, Blacks and mixed people.

The population of Minas Gerais is the result of an intense mixture of peoples, particularly between Black Africans and Portuguese.[9] In colonial Minas Gerais, the population was divided in five different categories: Whites, mostly Portuguese; Africans, who often did not have a surname and were usually known for their region of origin (for example Francisca Benguela would refer to Benguela); Crioulos (Black people born in Brazil, usually to both African parents); Mulattoes (people of mixed Black and White ancestry, usually born to a Black mother and a Portuguese father) and Cabras (people of mixed ancestry, usually with high degree of Amerindian admixture). Blacks and Mulattoes predominated in the population after the beginning of the colonization.[9] By the 19th century, however, "whites" were already the largest single group in the Minas Gerais population.[10] Taking the population as a whole (all groups included), European genes account for the majority of the Minas Gerais genetic heritage, which has been explained on the basis of the extremely high mortality rates of the enslaved African population and lower reproductive rate of African slaves (the vast majority of them were males, among other reasons for their lower reproductive success)[10] The Amerindian population was hit hard by the diseases brought by the European colonists and they did not have much of an impact either, especially in Minas Gerais, where European presence and colonization was massive.[10]

During the colonial period, the disproportion between the number of men and women was quite sharp. The census of 1738 in Serro do Frio, which included Diamantina, revealed that of the 9,681 inhabitants, 83.5% were men and 16.5% women. Among the slaves, women were only 3.1%.[9] The number of free "women of color" (Blacks and Mulattoes) was very high. The same census revealed that 63% of the former slaves were women and only 37% men. Since interracial relationships between "women of color" and White men were widespread, the female slaves were more likely to be freed than the male slaves.[9]

The monogamous family structure that the Catholic Church tried to deploy in colonial Brazil was the exception in Minas Gerais. At that time cohabitation and temporary relationships predominated in Minas Gerais, as well as in Brazil as a whole.[9] Monogamy and weddings in churches would only take root in Brazil in the 19th century, fitting the moral standards imposed by the Church. The role of women in colonial Minas Gerais was much more dynamic than it would be allowed by the standards of the time. Many women used to live on their own, were heads of family and worked, particularly the "women of color" and former slaves.[9] The society of Minas Gerais provided a great social mobility to former slaves, mainly for women. In Tejuco, the percentage of White males who were head of family (37.7%) was very similar to the percentage of Black women who were head of family (38.5%). Many former slaves were able to accumulate goods and many of them became slave owners as well. Some Blacks and mainly Mulattos were able to integrate themselves in the highest social stratum of the society of Minas Gerais, once restricted to Whites. This happened through a process of "whitening" their descendence and through the assimilation of the culture of the White elite, like being members of Catholic brotherhoods.[9]

Cohabitation was the most common crime in Minas Gerais. The Catholic Church was strict in the punishment of this crime, in order to prevent the widespread miscegenation between White, mostly Portuguese males with Black or Mulatto women.[9]

A genetic study suggested that the "Whites" from Minas Gerais would have the lowest levels of European (at 70.8%) ancestry among the Brazilian regions and higher levels(at 16.1%) of African admixture, with significant Amerindian (13.1%) admixture, the European reference population in the study being 94.6% European, 2.8% Native American and 2.6% African, which would give an actual percentage of European ancestry of about 74.84% actual European ancestry (roughly 75%), and less than 15% of each, Native American and African ancestries.[11]

According to another study, however, the European ancestry is dominant throughout Brazil at 80%, Minas Gerais included (and this taking into account the whole of the population of Minas Gerais, "white", "pardos" and "blacks"). "A new portrayal of each ethnicity contribution to the DNA of Brazilians, obtained with samples from the five regions of the country, has indicated that, on average, European ancestors are responsible for nearly 80% of the genetic heritage of the population. The variation between the regions is small, with the possible exception of the South, where the European contribution reaches nearly 90%. The results, published by the scientific magazine American Journal of Human Biology by a team of the Catholic University of Brasília, show that, in Brazil, physical indicators such as skin colour, colour of the eyes and colour of the hair have little to do with the genetic ancestry of each person, which has been shown in previous studies".[12]

During the time of the gold rush, the largest European immigration of the colonial period, to all of the Americas, took place, about 600,000 Portuguese immigrated to Brazil during the gold rush, and most of them to Minas Gerais, the place where the gold rush activities took place.[13] Most of them came from Entre Douro e Minho, in Northern Portugal.[14] The reference book for a large number of these families is "Velhos Troncos Mineiros" (Old Mineiro Branches) by Raimundo Trindade.

The Native American population of Minas Gerais was estimated to be at 97,000 in 1500, by the time the Portuguese arrived in Brazil in 1500 (John Hemming in "Red Gold: The Conquest of the Brazilian Indians").


Religion Percentage Number
Catholics 78.70% 14,091,479
Protestants 13.61% 2,437,186
No religion 4.60% 822,855
Spiritists 1.59% 284,336
Umbandists 0.11% 20,223

Source: IBGE 2000.[15]


This satellite photograph illustrates the diverse agricultural landscape in the western part of Minas Gerais.

The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 47.1%, followed by the industrial sector at 44.1%. Agriculture represents 8.8% of GDP (2004). Exports: iron ore 26.1%, siderurgy 20.9%, coffee 12.8%, not ferrous metals 7.2%, others agriculture products 6.2%, vehicles 5.9% (2002).

Share of the Brazilian economy: 9% (2005).

Minas Gerais (or simply Minas, as it is commonly called) is a major producer of milk, coffee and other agricultural commodities, as well as minerals. Electronics are also produced in Minas. The automakers Fiat and Mercedes-Benz have factories there. Tourism is also an important activity for the state: historical cities like Ouro Preto, Mariana, Sabará, Congonhas, Diamantina, Tiradentes, and Sao João del Rey, are a major attractive for visitors interested in their colonial architecture. Other cities, like Araxá, Poços de Caldas, Lambari, Caxambu, and others, attract visitors interested in their mineral watersprings. Eco-tourism is a rising economic activity in the state, specially in localities situated on the several Serras (highlands) that exist in Minas Gerais.

The state has marked economic divisions. The southern part of the state (close to the São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro state borders) has several mid-sized cities with solid industrial bases such as Juiz de Fora, Varginha, Pouso Alegre, and Poços de Caldas, as well as Ipatinga in the east of the state, which is also a modern and major industrial city and Itabira, considered city mother of the Company it is Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, that has stocks quoted in Bovespa and NYSE. The northeastern region is marked by poverty, but Governador Valadares [2] and Teófilo Otoni attract foreign traders for the semi-precious gems such as topaz and sapphire. The central region of the state (where the capital is located) has big reserves of iron (and to a lesser extent, gold) still being actively mined. There are also large companies installed the automotive industry, as manufacturers FIAT in Betim, IVECO in Sete Lagoas and suppliers of auto-parts, as STOLA and USIPARTS.The western part, the "Triângulo Mineiro", is less densely populated than the rest of the state, and it is now a focus of biotechnology investment, particularly on the cities of Uberlândia, Uberaba and Patos de Minas, which includes leading research on cattle, soy and corn culture.

Interesting facts

Vehicles: 4,887,283 (March/2007); Mobile phones: 11.3 million (April/2007); Telephones: 4.2 million (April/2007); Towns: 853 (2007).[16]


Universidade Federal de Lavras in Lavras.

Educational institutions

  • Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) (Federal University of Minas Gerais)
  • Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (PUC-MG)
  • Faculdade de Ciências Medicas de Minas Gerais FCMMG (Medical Sciences Faculty of Minas Gerais)
  • Universidade Federal de Alfenas (Unifal-MG) (Federal University of Alfenas)
  • Universidade Federal de Itajuba (UNIFEI) (Federal University of Itajuba)
  • Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (UFJF) (Federal University of Juiz de Fora)
  • Universidade Federal de Lavras (Ufla) (Federal University of Lavras)
  • Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto (Ufop) (Federal University of Ouro Preto)
  • Universidade Federal de São João del Rei (UFSJ) (Federal University of São João del Rei)
  • Universidade Federal de Uberlândia (UFU) (Federal University of Uberlandia)
  • Universidade Federal de Viçosa (UFV) (Federal University of Viçosa)
  • Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineiro (UFTM) (Federal University of Mineiro Triangle)
  • Universidade Federal dos Vales do Jequitinhonha e Mucuri (UFVJM) (Federal University of Jequitinhonha and Murici Valleys)
  • Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros (Unimontes) (State University of Montes Claros)
  • Universidade de Itaúna
  • Centro Federal de Educação Tecnológica de Minas Gerais (CEFET-MG)
  • Faculdade de Direito Milton Campos (FDMC) (Faculty of Law Milton Campos)
  • and many others.


Baroque churches in Mariana.

Minas Gerais may be called Deep Brazil by analogy with France profonde. It has a distinctly more native flavour than cosmopolitan São Paulo, a more traditional slant than flashy Rio de Janeiro, and is more Portuguese than the South and São Paulo with their great influx of Italians and other Central Europeans, the North with its native Indians, or the Northeast with its heavy Afro-Brazilian influence.

Those born and raised in Minas Gerais, also called Mineiros, bare an unmistakable accent that sets them apart from fellow Brazilians. They are considered reserved, prudent, relatively silent to the point of melancholy, but welcoming and family-focused. It is one of the most religious states, with a large proportion of staunch Roman Catholics and a burgeoning Evangelical and neo-Pentecostal population, with pockets of African religions. The Spiritist doctrine is also professed by a significant portion of the population, partly due to the influence of Chico Xavier, the main spiritual icon of Brazil, who lived in Minas Gerais all his life.

Minas Gerais is also known nationally for its cuisine. The cultural basis of its cuisine is the small farmhouse, and many of the dishes are prepared using locally produced vegetables and meats, especially chicken and pork. Traditional cooking is done using coal- or wood-fired ovens and cast iron pans, making for a particularly tasty flavor; some restaurant chains have adopted these techniques and made this type of food popular in other parts of the country.

Many of the cakes and appetizers of the local cuisine use corn or cassava (known there as mandioca) flour instead of wheat, as the latter did not adapt well to the local weather. The best-known dish from Minas Gerais is "pão de queijo", a small baked roll (known internationally as "Brazilian cheese rolls") made with cheese and cassava flour that can be served hot as an appetizer or for breakfast.

The state is also Brazil's most traditional producer of cheese. Minas cheese is renowned nationwide as the distinct Brazilian cheese. Cachaça is also a local produce of some importance.

The state cuisine is showcased in various festivals year round and in many locations throughout the state, but the biggest festival is the month long Comida de Buteco in Belo Horizonte, where 41 bars and restaurant are selected to create a dish using ingredients traditional to local cuisine. People from all over the country and abroad rate the food, the temperature of the beer, the ambiance and service. In 2007, over 400,000 people participated in the festival according to Vox Populi statistics.

Music is one of the most striking features of Minas Gerais and has been part of the history of the state since the early 16th and 17th centuries.

From the 18th century, composers like Jose Joaquim Lobo de Mesquita, Francisco Gomes da Rocha, Marcos Coelho Neto and Manoel de Oliveira Dias reinforced the musical tradition of Minas, with the composition of baroque pieces that are now revered as masterpieces. For Classical Music, the state features productions and performances of various orchestras and choirs.

Among them there are the Symphonic Orchestra of Minas Gerais and the Coral Lírico de Minas Gerais, a State Choir, maintained by Clovis Salgado Foundation, an institution linked to the Secretary of State for Culture. These and other groups have a strong presence in the capital and throughout the state, working for the popularization and democratization of classical music.

The most varied rhythms and sounds have their origins in the state. Ary Barroso, who in 1939 composed one of Brazil's best known songs throughout the world, Aquarela do Brasil, was born in Ubá, in the Zona da Mata Mineira.

In the 60th and 70th streets in the traditional neighborhood of Santa Tereza, Belo Horizonte, were the scene of one of the most important movements of national music: Clube da Esquina. With a unique blend of Brazilian popular music with pop and jazz, the Club met talents like Milton Nascimento, Wagner Tiso, Toninho Horta, Fernando Brant, Lô Borges, Beto Guedes, and Flávio Venturini.

The current scenario continues reflecting the vibrancy and dynamism of the cultural. A new generation of artists is represented by names like Skank, Pato Fu, Jota Quest, Sepultura, Vander Lee, Uakti, Marina Machado, Maurício Tizumba, Berimbrown, Copo Lagoinha and Amaranto.

Moving freely through different rhythms like rock, reggae, heavy metal, samba and MPB, among others, the music in Minas Gerais continues the excellence and diversity that has always stapled it.

Minas Gerais is often recognized abroad as the state where the footballer Pelé was born (he has lived in the state of São Paulo since childhood, though).

Many famous Brazilian writers were born in Minas Gerais: Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Fernando Sabino and João Guimarães Rosa. Aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont was born in Minas Gerais, as well as various politicians, such as Presidents Afonso Pena, Venceslau Brás, Delfim Moreira, Artur Bernardes, Juscelino Kubitschek, Tancredo Neves, Itamar Franco and Dilma Rousseff.


International Airport

Tancredo Neves/Confins International Airport is located in the municipalities of Lagoa Santa and Confins, 38 km (23 mi) from Belo Horizonte, and was opened in January 1984. It was planned from the start for future expansion in steps to meet growing demand. The airport has one of the lowest rates of shutdown for bad weather in the country. However, the Confins airport was not using much of its capacity until 2005, when it was decided that a large part of the Pampulha Airport flights (which is smaller and located inside Belo Horizonte's urban area) would move to Confins.

The first step was undertaken with careful concern for the environment, including monitoring by specialized consultants, since the region has a rich archeological heritage. Among the hundreds of caverns in the region, the one at Lapa Vermelha stands out. Located 2.7 km (1.6 mi) from the airport, the oldest female cranium in the Americans was discovered there, dated at roughly 12 thousand years old. Confins is certified by the ISO 9001 standard, covering ten processes in the administrative, operational, safety/security and maintenance areas. The Tancredo Neves International Airport has both domestic and international flights (to some locations in South America, Central America, North America and Europe).

Administrative Center/ Cidade Administrativa de Minas Gerais

A new Administrative Center was completed in March 2010, for the state of Minas Gerais. Designed by the internationally renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer, the center consists of four large buildings on a 800,000 square meter site. Two buildings accommodate 17 of the state ministries, the third building consists of an auditorium, with capacity for 540 guests. The fourth and most impressive building is the "Palacio do Governo", which is the world's largest suspended structure, built in reinforced concrete. The building has 150m spam and its roof is supported by 4 columns.


Minas Gerais is the Brazilian state that harbors the highest mileage of highways. The state highway network is 269,545 kilometers, of which only 11,396 on federal roads and 21,472 on state highways and state coincide, corresponding to all other municipal roads. Because of its central position, the state is crossed by the most important national highways, like BR-116 (Rio-Bahia), BR-040 (Rio-Brasília) and others. Many of the most important Brazilian routes cross the state and, for this reason, it counts the greater proportion of car accidents per capita.

BR-122, BR-040, BR-135, BR-146, BR-251, BR-259, BR-265, BR-265, BR-265, BR-265, BR-267, BR-352, BR-354, BR-356, BR-356, BR-364, BR-367, BR-367, BR-367, BR-381, BR-381, BR-383, BR-383, BR-393, BR-459, BR-462, BR-464, BR-491.


As in the rest of Brazil, football is the most popular sport among locals. Belo Horizonte has two of the most successful teams in the country, and the city also has one of the biggest football stadiums in the world, the Mineirão, opened in 1965.

The older Independência Stadium hosted a legendary victory of the United States World Cup Team 1950 in a 1-0 triumph over England. See England v United States (1950) and [3]

Mineirão and Independência Stadium are closed for renovation to 2014 World Cup,so all Belo Horizonte's teams are playing in Sete Lagoas, the stadium is called "Arena do Jacaré".

Atlético Mineiro, which is also called by its nickname and mascot "Galo" (rooster) is one of the oldest football clubs in the city and was founded in 1908. Atlético Mineiro won one Brazilian championship in 1971, and has also won two CONMEBOL Cups (nowadays called Copa Sudamericana) and 40 State Championships. In spite of so much tradition, the team has suffered through very difficult times recently and was relegated to the Brazilian Série B. However, the club won the championship in 2006 and is back to Série A in 2007.

Cruzeiro was founded in 1921 by the members of the local Italian community. Cruzeiro has been one of Brazil's most successful clubs in the 1990s and early 2000s, winning 4 National Cups, 1 National League, 2 Copa Libertadores, and 2 Supercopa Libertadores, and is also the winner of Taça Brasil in 1966 and 34 State Championships.Cruzeiro also was elected the most successful brazilian team in last century by IFFHS.In 2003, Cruzeiro won the triple crown, when the team won the National League, National Cups and State Championships.

The city is also home to América Mineiro, which has its own playing field, the Independência Stadium. It was a major team in Brazil decades ago, but passed three years striving to leave Brazilian League Série C. Things came worse at the beginning of 2007. The team was relegated to the Módulo II of Campeonato Mineiro, for the first time in its history and did not even qualify for playing the Série C, being completely out of Campeonato Brasileiro in 2008. It was 15 times state champion (ten of then in a row), the last was in 2001, also won the National League second division in 1997 and the Sul-Minas Cup in 2000. The club is playing Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A.

Besides football, Belo Horizonte has one of the largest attendances at volleyball matches in the whole country. Crowds usually go to Mineirinho in order to watch either the Brazil national volleyball team or Minas Tênis Clube matches.

Minas Tênis Clube is a sport association with various modalities, and its volleyball team has some of the most advanced training facilities in the country. Besides Mineirinho, the clubs also plays on its own ground, the modern Vivo Arena. Both its male and female volleyball teams have already won the Brazilian Superleague of Volleyball titles.

Belo Horizonte is one of the 12 chosen cities to host games of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, that will be hosted by Brazil.

Belo Horizonte is also one of the cities chosen to co-host the Soccer Games of the 2016 Olympic Games that will be held in Rio de Janeiro. São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília and Salvador are the other cities chosen to host the Soccer Games.


The flag of the state of Minas Gerais is the oldest one adopted in Brazil that was devised by Brazilians. It was remembered by the Republican Party, which opposed the Brazilian Imperial Government, and adopted unofficially as the flag of the state. It has been the official state flag since 1946.

The flag's Latin inscription, "Libertas quæ sera tamen", is the motto of the "Inconfidencia Mineira," which fought for Brazilian independence from Portugal. It means "Freedom albeit late". It is taken from Virgil's Eclogues, Eclogue 1. The triangle is said to represent God as a Trinity and the three ideals of the French Revolution: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, but as Masons influenced independence movements throughout America, the geometric figure on the flag is a clear homage to them. The colors were chosen for their revolutionary meaning: white represents the desire to forming a peaceful nation, discarding all colonial institutions, and red symbolises the flame of liberty and/or the blood of Inconfidencia martyrs, such as Tiradentes, or "The Dentist" revolutionary.


In spite of not being the largest state of Brazil, Minas Gerais has the largest number of cities. Of the more than 5,500 municipalities in the country, Minas has 853 of them, a fact explained by the number of inhabitants and by the vast territory (larger than Metropolitan France). The most notable cities are: the capital Belo Horizonte, Contagem, Betim, Juiz de Fora, Muriae, Montes Claros, Uberlândia, Governador Valadares, Ipatinga, Poços de Caldas, Sete Lagoas, Uberaba, Patos de Minas, Divinópolis, Itaúna,Cataguases and Ouro Preto.


  1. ^ Censo 2010: população do Brasil é de 190.732.694 pessoas
  2. ^ The presented pronunciation is in Brazilian Portuguese. The European Portuguese pronunciation is [ˈminɐʒ ʒɨˈɾajʃ].
  3. ^ João Batista de Almeida Costa. Os Berços de Minas Gerais: http://portal.matiascardoso.mg.gov.br:8080/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1016.6
  4. ^ João Antônio de Paula: Raízes da Modernidade em Minas Gerais. Belo Horizonte: Editora Autêntica, 2000
  5. ^ Cheney, Glenn Alan, Journey on the Estrada Real: Encounters in the Mountains of Brazil, (Chicago: Academy Chicago, 2004) ISBN 0-89733-530-9
  6. ^ Source: PNAD.
  7. ^ (in Portuguese) (PDF). Minas Gerais, Brazil: IBGE. 2008. ISBN 85-240-3919-1. http://www.sidra.ibge.gov.br/bda/tabela/listabl.asp?z=pnad&o=3&i=P&c=262. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  8. ^ a b Sistema IBGE de Recuperação Automática - SIDRA
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Júnia Ferreira Furtado (2009). Chica da Silva e o Contratador de Diamantes- o Outro Lado do Mito. Companhia das Letras. pp. 403–403. 
  10. ^ a b c http://www.dominiopublico.gov.br/download/texto/cp057440.pdf
  11. ^ Admixture in White Brazilians
  12. ^ http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/folha/ciencia/ult306u633465.shtml
  13. ^ http://www.ibge.gov.br/brasil500/index2.html
  14. ^ http://www.museu-emigrantes.org/Minas-Minho.pdf
  15. ^ Sistema IBGE de Recuperação Automática - SIDRA
  16. ^ Source: IBGE.

Further reading

  • Cheney, Glenn Alan, Journey on the Estrada Real: Encounters in the Mountains of Brazil, (Chicago: Academy Chicago, 2004) ISBN 0-89733-530-9

External links

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