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Minas Gerais
State of Minas Gerais
Coat of arms of Minas Gerais
Motto(s): 
Libertas quæ sera tamen (Latin)
"Freedom albeit late"
Coordinates: 19°49′S 43°57′W / 19.817°S 43.950°W / -19.817; -43.950
Country Brazil
Capital and largest city Belo Horizonte
Government
 • GovernorRomeu Zema (NOVO)
 • Vice GovernorMateus Simões (NOVO)
 • SenatorsCarlos Viana (PODE)
Cleitinho Azevedo (REP)
Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD)
Area
 • Total586,528.29 km2 (226,459.84 sq mi)
 • Rank4th
Population
 (2022)[1]
 • Total20,539,989
 • Rank2nd
 • Density33.41/km2 (86.5/sq mi)
  • Rank14th
DemonymMineiro/a
GDP
 • TotalR$ 857.593 billion
(US$ 159.084 billion)
HDI
 • Year2021
 • Category0.774[3]high (4th)
Time zoneUTC-3 (MGT)
Postal Code
30000-000 to 39990-000
ISO 3166 codeBR-MG
Websitemg.gov.br

Minas Gerais (Portuguese: [ˈminɐz ʒeˈɾajs] ) is one of the 27 federative units of Brazil, being the fourth largest state by area and the second largest in number of inhabitants with a population of 20,539,989 according to the 2022 census. Located in the Southeast Region of the country, it is limited to south and southwest with São Paulo; Mato Grosso do Sul to the west; Goiás and the Federal District to the northwest; Bahia to the north and northeast; Espírito Santo to the east; and Rio de Janeiro to the southeast. The state's capital and largest city, Belo Horizonte, is a major urban and finance center in Brazil, being the sixth most populous municipality in the country while its metropolitan area ranks as the third largest in Brazil with just over 5.8 million inhabitants, after those of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Minas Gerais' territory is subdivided into 853 municipalities, the largest number among Brazilian states.

The state's terrain is quite rugged and some of Brazil's highest peaks are located in its territory. It is also home to the source of some of Brazil's main rivers, such as the São Francisco and Grande rivers, which places it in a strategic position with regard to the country's water resources. It has a tropical climate, which varies from colder and humid in the south to semi-arid in its northern portion. All of these combined factors provide it with a rich fauna and flora distributed in the biomes that cover the state, especially the Cerrado and the threatened Atlantic Forest.

Minas Gerais' territory was inhabited by indigenous peoples when the Portuguese arrived in Brazil. It experienced a large migration wave following the discovery of gold in the late 17th century. The mining of gold brought wealth and development to the then captaincy, providing its economic and cultural development; however, gold soon became scarce, causing the emigration of a large part of the population until a new cycle (that of coffee) once again brought Minas Gerais national prominence and whose end led to the relatively late industrialization process. Minas Gerais currently has the third largest GDP among Brazilian states, with a large part of it still being the product of mining activities. The state also has a notable infrastructure, with a large number of hydroelectric plants and the largest road network in the country.

Due to its natural beauty and historical heritage, Minas Gerais is an important tourist destination. It is known for its heritage of colonial architecture and art in historical cities such as Ouro Preto and Diamantina, São João del-Rei, Mariana, Tiradentes, Congonhas, Sabará and Serro. In the south, its tourist points are hydro-mineral spas, such as the municipalities of Caxambu, Lambari, São Lourenço, Poços de Caldas, São Thomé das Letras, Monte Verde (a district of Camanducaia) and the national parks of Caparaó and Canastra. In the Serra do Cipó, Sete Lagoas, Cordisburgo and Lagoa Santa, the caves and waterfalls are the main attractions. The people of Minas Gerais also have a peculiar culture, marked by traditional religious manifestations and typical countryside cuisine, in addition to national importance in contemporary artistic productions and also in the sports scene.

Etymology

Two interpretations are given for the origin of the name Minas Gerais.[4]

The first interpretation is that the name simply means "General Mines", referring to a number of mines which were located in several spots spread around a larger region.

The second interpretation derives the name from the former name of the colonial province, "Minas dos Matos Gerais" ("Mines of the General Woods"), referring to two distinct regions encompassed by the state: the region of the mines (Minas), and the "general" region ("Matos Gerais" or "Campos Gerais", roughly meaning "General Fields"). The latter 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 in origin.[5]

History

Part of the history of the current state of Minas Gerais was determined by the exploration of the great mineral wealth found in its territory. Its name, in fact, comes from the large quantity and variety of mines present, which began to be explored since the 17th century and to this day drive an important fraction of the state's economy.[6]

Prehistory and indigenous peoples

Further information: Pre-Cabraline history of Brazil

Lund copying rock paintings in a cave in Lagoa Santa, c. 1840

In the mid-19th century, Danish paleontologist Peter Wilhelm Lund discovered, in the Lagoa Santa region, human remains belonging to a population that lived there thousands of years ago, nicknamed the "Lagoa Santa People".[7] The region of Minas Gerais was inhabited by indigenous peoples as long as 11,400 to 12,000 years ago, based on the estimated age of the Luzia woman, the name of the oldest human fossil found in the Americas. Luzia was found in 1974 in excavations in Lapa Vermelha, a cave between the municipalities of Lagoa Santa and Pedro Leopoldo, in the Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte.[8][9][10]

Based on the analysis of Luzia and her people's cranial morphology, it was theorized that they had Australoid features, having belonged to a population that arrived in the Americas before the ancestors of Amerindians.[11] However, with the analysis of the genetic material of the human remains of the Lagoa Santa People, it was found that this prehistoric population had completely Amerindian DNA, therefore ruling out any relationship with Australasian populations and the theory that the peopling of the Americas was due to a wave of individuals with Australoid traits and another of Mongoloid individuals.[12][13] The indigenous peoples of Minas Gerais, as well as throughout Brazil and South America, are descendants of the groups who migrated there through North America.[14]

In the region of the municipalities of Januária, Montalvânia, Itacarambi and Juvenília, in northern Minas Gerais, archaeological excavations have led to estimates that the initial settlement occurred at Luzia's time. Starting in this period, cultural characteristics emerged, such as the use of stone or bone, the creation of cemeteries and small grain silos, as well as cave paintings. Later, about four thousand years ago, it is speculated that vegetable cultivation occurred, in particular corn, and that two thousand years ago, ceramic products were already being manufactured.[15]

Tanz der Puris, by Johann Moritz Rugendas

More than a hundred indigenous groups inhabited the current territory of Minas Gerais at the time of the arrival of the Portuguese.[16] In the valleys of the Doce, Jequitinhonha and Mucuri rivers, people generally known as "botocudos" lived, such as the Maxakalis, Maconis, Naquenuques, Aranãs, Krenaks and Pataxós. Northern Minas Gerais was dominated by the Kiriris and Xakriabás. Center, western and southern Minas Gerais were inhabited by the Cataguás, who were the most numerous indigenous group in Minas Gerais' territory in colonial times, so much so that the region was known as "Campos Gerais dos Cataguases" in the time of the bandeirantes. The regions of Triângulo Mineiro and Alto Paranaíba were inhabited by the Kayapos and Araxás, while the Zona da Mata was populated by the Puri. The region of Minas Gerais close to the border with São Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul and Goiás was occupied by the Bororós.[17]

However, during the first centuries of the colonization of Brazil, the indigenous people of this region were captured by the bandeirantes to be enslaved and the groups that revolted were exterminated,[18] which caused a great reduction in the indigenous population, leaving currently only five groups: the Xakriabás, Krenaks, Maxakalis, Pataxós and Pankararus, the latter coming from Pernambuco's hinterlands.[19][20]

Colonial era

Further information: Colonial Brazil

Initial settlement and gold rush

Further information: Brazilian gold rush

Borba Gato, painting by Rodolfo Amoedo, 1929

The first European expedition into Minas Gerais' territory was led by Spaniards Francisco Bruza Espinosa and Juan de Azpilcueta Navarro between 1553 and 1555, which left the coast of Bahia and traveled through northern Minas Gerais. In the following decades, other expeditions known as "entries", coming from the Brazil's northeastern coast, traveled through this same region, such as that of Sebastião Fernandes Tourinho in 1573.[21][22] From the end of the 16th century, bandeirantes traveled the territory of Minas Gerais in search of gold and precious stones. Many of their expeditions were supported by the Portuguese Crown, among which those of Fernão Dias and his son-in-law Borba Gato, who left the village of São Paulo in 1674, stand out.[23] In the 17th century, the colonization of northern Minas Gerais began, with the settlement of cattle herders, due to the expansion of livestock farming in the northeastern Sertão, and of bandeirantes, in search of precious stones and indigenous people to enslave.[24]

Between 1692 and 1693, the bandeirante Antônio Rodrigues Arzão discovered the first gold deposits in the territory of Minas Gerais. In the following years, bandeirantes from the towns of São Paulo and Taubaté traveled through the Das Velhas region looking for gold. In 1696, Salvador Fernandes Furtado discovered gold on the banks of the Carmo river and built his camp there, which gave rise to the town of Nossa Senhora do Carmo (now Mariana). Two years later, Antônio Dias de Oliveira discovered gold at the foot of the Itacolomi Peak and founded his settlement there, the embryo of Vila Rica (currently Ouro Preto). In 1702, João de Siqueira Afonso discovered precious stones in the Rio das Mortes valley.[22][23] Initially, gold was extracted from riverbeds, which forced miners to move as the deposits ran out. After some time, exploration also began to be carried out on mountain slopes, which forced the permanent settlement of miners, leading to the emergence of the first settlements.[25][26]

The news of the discovery of gold soon spread, initiating a gold rush, and in the following decades hundreds of thousands of people eager for wealth, mainly Portuguese (which included New Christians), but also colonial Brazilians from São Paulo, Bahia, Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro, settled in Minas Gerais. The arrival of large numbers of people in a short time led to epidemics and food shortages.[23] 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 Vila Rica, Serro, and, at the northernmost point, Diamantina.[citation needed]

São Paulo settlers considered themselves owners of the gold taken from the mines, claiming the right due to having discovered and conquered it, and did not want others to take possession of the mines. As a result, in 1707, they came into conflict with the Portuguese and other Brazilian settlers (nicknamed "emboabas", a Tupi term that means "one who offends"), causing the War of the Emboabas, which ended in 1709. The São Paulo settlers were defeated and many of them had to abandon the gold deposits in Minas Gerais, having to look for the metal in what is now the Central-West region of Brazil, finding it years later in Goiás and Mato Grosso.[23][27]

Prior to 1720, Minas Gerais was part of the captaincy of São Vicente. The imposition of the authority of the Portuguese Crown contributed to the end of the conflict, with the creation of the Captaincy of São Paulo and Minas do Ouro in 1709.[28] In 1711, the first villages were created in Minas Gerais, namely Sabará, Vila Rica and Vila de Nossa Senhora do Carmo.[29] In 1720, the Vila Rica Revolt took place against taxes on gold and, as a result, that same year the Captaincy of Minas Gerais was created after the dismemberment of São Paulo e Minas do Ouro.[23] The first capital of Minas Gerais, 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 the Americas.

The Portuguese Crown then began to strictly control the mining of gold, instating a 20% tax of everything that was produced, which became known as "the fifth". The captaincy's population continued to grow, but until then there were only small subsistence agricultural crops, which required the import of products from other regions of the colony. New access ways to the region began to be created and the flow of people and goods increased intensely, thus creating the first large consumer market in Brazil. Villages appeared along these access points, therefore playing a key role in the population of the captaincy. Among these routes, the Caminho Novo stands out, which connected the mining regions to Rio de Janeiro. The intense mix of people associated with wealth from gold and urban life led to the formation of a new, culturally diverse society, with several musicians, artists, sculptors and artisans. Among the cultural movements, the work of Aleijadinho and Master Ataíde stands out, among others, which allowed the flourishing of a local Baroque.[25] Aleijadinho's sculptural and architectural work, as exhibited in the Twelve Prophets and The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi in Ouro Preto, are prime examples of this period.

Diamond mining, by Carlos Julião, c. 1770

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, Sabará, Mariana, and other cities. Some of the names which have survived include José Joaquim Emerico Lobo de Mesquita, Marcos Coelho Neto, 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.[citation needed]

In the 1720s, in the Jequitinhonha valley region, the discovery of diamonds occurred, although its discoverers did not recognize the value of this precious stone for decades. However, the Portuguese Crown, upon recognizing the region's mineral production, soon established a way of charging taxes in a similar way to the gold tax. The main diamond exploration center was close to where Arraial do Tijuco (today Diamantina) emerged.[30]

At the height of gold mining, enslaved labor was essential for large landowners. In this way, the trade in slaves brought from the African continent to work in the mines intensified. Many slaves tried and managed to escape, which led to the emergence of quilombos throughout Minas Gerais. It is estimated that during the 18th century more than 120 of these communities emerged throughout the captaincy. These settlements were not so far from mining centers, which made it easier for more slaves to escape. There was also a trade in subsistence products between slaves and traders, who took advantage of the lower price offered by the former.[31] In 1753, Rosa Egipcíaca, was enslaved and forced to work as a prostitute in a mine in the region, until she became ill and began to have religious visions. These visions led to her arrest and imprisonment and ultimately interrogation by the Inquisition. She recorded them in the first book to be written by a black woman in Brazil — Sagrada Teologia do Amor Divino das Almas Peregrinas.[32]

Minas Gerais' conspiracy

Main article: Minas Gerais conspiracy

Baruch, 18th century Baroque sculpture, by Aleijadinho

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 Vila Rica revolt that ended with the execution of Filipe dos Santos, the revolt's leader, but also with the separation of Minas Gerais from the captaincy São Paulo e Minas de Ouro. The most notable one, however, was the Minas Gerais conspiracy, started in 1789 by a 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, along with the Latin motto "Libertas quæ sera tamen", "freedom albeit late"—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).

People of Minas Gerais in the 1820s

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 Pedro I and later his son, Pedro II. After the installation of the First 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 milk politics" (coffee being the major product of São Paulo, and milk 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 coup. However, he died after a series of health complications just as he was about to assume the position. Also, Itamar Franco, former president of Brazil, lived there, though he was not born in Minas Gerais.

Geography

Minas Gerais features some of the longest rivers in Brazil, most notably the São Francisco, the Paraná and to a lesser extent, the Doce river. 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 the Mantiqueira Mountains 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 Bandeira peak, the third highest mountain in Brazil at 2,890 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. Emeralds found in this location are comparable to the best Colombia-origin emeralds, and are most often a bluish-green color.[33]

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

Town of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos c. 1821–1825

Modern geographic division by IBGE (2017)

The 13 intermediate geographic regions of Minas Gerais, divided by a red line. Inside them, the immediate geographic regions, divided by a black line.

According to the modern (2017) geographic classification by Brazil's National Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), which succeeded the division in mesoregions and microregions (1988), the state is now divided in 13 intermediate geographic regions, each one divided in immediate geographic regions (70 total in the whole state):

Geology

Paleontology

Maxakalisaurus

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, 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.

Full-scale replica of Uberabatitan, located at the Dinosaur Museum in Peirópolis, Uberaba.

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 National Museum of Brazil, since August 28, 2006.[34]

In the 1940s, fossil records from the Late Cretaceous period began to be unearthed in the territory of Uberaba, many of them exceptionally well-preserved. Subsequently, extensive research efforts were initiated by the National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM), which appointed paleontologist Llewellyn Ivor Price to work in the region. Due to the large quantity of fossils uncovered, the Paleontological Research Center Llewellyn Ivor Price was established in 1991, alongside the Dinosaurs Museum in Peirópolis, which is currently dedicated to the study of local paleontology in collaboration with research institutions worldwide.[35]

In March 2024, Uberaba was officially designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark, marking it as the first of its kind in Minas Gerais. The territory is situated within the Serra da Galga Formation, where more than 10,000 fossils of various prehistoric creatures have been unearthed. Among these discoveries, the Uberabatitan ribeiroi found in 2004 ranks among the largest ever discovered in Latin America.[36]

Demographics

Historical population
YearPop.±%
18722,039,735—    
18903,184,099+56.1%
19003,594,471+12.9%
19205,888,174+63.8%
19406,763,368+14.9%
19507,782,188+15.1%
19609,960,040+28.0%
197011,645,095+16.9%
198013,651,852+17.2%
199115,731,961+15.2%
200017,905,134+13.8%
201019,597,330+9.5%
202220,539,989+4.8%
Source:[1]

According to the 2022 census, there were 20,539,989 people residing in the state. The population density was 35.02 inhabitants per square kilometre (90.7/sq mi). Urbanization: 85% (2006); Population growth: 1.4% (1991–2000); Houses: 5,741,000 (2006).[37]

The last PNAD (National Research for Sample of Domiciles) census revealed the following numbers: 9,605,151 Brown (Multiracial) people (46.8%), 8,437,697 White people (41.1%), 2,432,877 Black people (11.8%), 31,885 Amerindian people (0.2%), 31,681 Asian people (0.2%).[38]

Ethnicities of Minas Gerais in 2022.[39]

  Pardo (mixed-race) (46.8%)
  White (41.1%)
  Black (11.8%)
  Indigenous (0.2%)
  Asian (0.2%)

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 98.7% of the population.[40] The South of Minas Gerais is both the most European and the most densely populated part of the state. On the other hand, in Setubinha, located in the northeast part of the state, 71.8% are mixed-race and 14.7% Black.[40] 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 White, Black and mixed people.

Downtown of Uberlândia, largest city in the state after Belo Horizonte
Indians visiting a farm plantation in Minas Gerais, 1824

The population of Minas Gerais is the result of an intense mixture of peoples, particularly between Black Africans and Portuguese.[41] 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). Black people and "Mulattoes" predominated in the population after the beginning of the colonization.[41] By the 19th century, however, whites were already the largest single group in the Minas Gerais population.[42] 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).[42] 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.[42]

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%.[41] The number of free "women of color" (Black and "Mulatto") 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.[41]

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.[41] 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.[41] 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 Black people 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.[41]

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.[41]

According to a 2013 autosomal DNA study, the ancestral composition of the state of Minas Gerais can be described as: 59.20% European, 28.90% African and 11.90% Native American [43]

During the time of the gold rush, thousands of Portuguese immigrated to Brazil (mainly from the Minho), and many of them to Minas Gerais, the place where the gold rush activities took place.[44] Most of them came from Entre Douro e Minho, in Northern Portugal.[45] 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").

The ancestry of the Africans brought to Minas Gerais was both West African and Bantu, with a predominance of the former initially and a predominance of the latter later.[46]

Major cities

 
 
Largest cities or towns in Minas Gerais
Rank Name Pop. Rank Name Pop.
Belo Horizonte
Belo Horizonte
Uberlândia
Uberlândia
1 Belo Horizonte 2 315 560 11 Ipatinga 227 731 Contagem
Contagem
Juiz de Fora
Juiz de Fora
2 Uberlândia 713 232 12 Sete Lagoas 227 360
3 Contagem 621 865 13 Santa Luzia 218 805
4 Juiz de Fora 540 756 14 Ibirité 170 387
5 Montes Claros 414 240 15 Poços de Caldas 163 742
6 Betim 411 859 16 Patos de Minas 159 235
7 Uberaba 337 846 17 Pouso Alegre 152 212
8 Ribeirão das Neves 329 794 18 Teófilo Otoni 137 418
9 Governador Valadares 257 172 19 Varginha 136 467
10 Divinópolis 231 091 20 Conselheiro Lafaiete 131 621

Religion

Religion in Minas Gerais (2010)[48][49]

  Catholic Church (70.4%)
  Protestantism (20.2%)
  Spiritism (2.1%)
  Other religions (3.4%)
  Irreligious (3.9%)

According to the 2010 Brazilian census, most of the population consider themselves to be Catholic, which puts the state in ninth place when considering the percentage of the population belonging to this religion (70.4%).[48][49] Although the number of Catholics has been gradually decreasing in recent years, Roman Catholicism is still strongly rooted in Minas Gerais' culture, especially in rural areas and inland cities where celebrations and festivities organized by community parishes are common, but religious pluralism has also grown in recent years.[50][51]

Almost four million inhabitants are evangelical. According to the number of followers, the Assembleias de Deus (more than seven hundred thousand followers), the Baptist Church (more than five hundred thousand followers) and the Foursquare Church (almost three hundred and fifty thousand adherents) stand out.[52] Around 420 thousand people in the state are followers of Spiritism, whose important promoter in Brazil was the Minas Gerais-born medium Chico Xavier.[53][54] There are also several other religious minorities in the state, including Umbanda and Candomblé, which together have less than twenty thousand followers and whose rituals are sometimes confused with folk traditions.[55] Almost a million people, in turn, consider themselves irreligious, of which around seventy thousand are atheists and just over seven thousand are agnostics.[56]

Economy

Belo Horizonte.

Minas Gerais is the second-largest consumer market in Brazil, behind the state of São Paulo. It shares 10.4% of the Brazilian consumer market. Companies of this Brazilian state have access to 49% of the Brazilian consumer market, with estimated consumption potential of 223 billion US dollars.[57] 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). Main exports: mineral products 44.4%, metals 15.8%, vegetable products 13%, precious metals 5.5%, foodstuffs 4.9%, transportation 3.5% (2012).[58]

Its share of the Brazilian economy in 2005 was 9%. Minas Gerais had an industrial GDP of R $128.4 billion in 2017, equivalent to 10.7% of the national industry. It employs 1,069,469 workers in the industry. The main industrial sectors are: construction (17.9%), extraction of metallic minerals (15.2%), food (13.4%), industrial services of public utility, such as electricity and water (10.8%) and metallurgy (10.5%). These 5 sectors concentrate 67.8% of the state's industry.[59]

Minas Gerais is a major producer of milk, coffee and other agricultural commodities, as well as minerals. 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 mother city of mining company Vale, that has stocks quoted in Bovespa and NYSE. The northeastern region is marked by poverty, but Governador Valadares[60] and Teófilo Otoni attract foreign traders for the semi-precious gems such as topaz and sapphire. In Teófilo Otoni, some companies are also attracted because of Brazilian Export Processing Zone, a free trade area.[61]

Agriculture

Diverse agricultural landscape in western Minas Gerais.
Coffee in Santo Antonio do Amparo.
Corn plantation in Paracatu.

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, Patos de Minas and Araguari, which includes leading research on cattle, soy and corn culture.

In agriculture, the state stands out in the production of coffee, sugar cane and soy, and also has large productions of orange, beans, sorghum, carrot, potato, banana, tangerine and strawberry, in addition to producing papaya, persimmon and cassava.

In 2020, Minas Gerais was the largest producer of Coffea arabica in the country, with 74% of the national total (1.9 million tons, or 31.2 million 60-kg bags). In 2017, Minas represented 54.3% of the total national production of coffee (first place).[62][63]

The state was the third largest producer of sugar cane in Brazil in 2020, representing 11.1% of the total produced in the country, with 74.3 million tons.[62][64][65]

The cultivation of soy, on the other hand, is increasing, however, it is not among the largest national producers of this grain. In the 2018–2019 harvest, Minas Gerais harvested 5 million tons (seventh place in the country).[66] The state was the second largest producer of oranges in 2018, with a total of 948 thousand tons.[67]

Minas Gerais is the second largest producer of beans in Brazil, with 17.2% of national production in 2020. In addition, it is one of the largest national producers of sorghum: around 30% of Brazilian production. It also ranks third in domestic production of cotton.[68]

The state was the third largest producer of banana in 2018, with 766 thousand tons. Brazil was already the 2nd largest producer of the fruit in the world, currently in 3rd place, losing only to India and Ecuador.[69][70]

In 2018, São Paulo and Minas Gerais were the largest producers of tangerine in Brazil. Minas was the 5th largest producer of papaya. About persimmon, Minas ranks third with 8%.[71][72][73]

In 2019, in Brazil, there was a total production area of around 4 thousand hectares of strawberry. The largest producer is Minas Gerais, with approximately 1,500 hectares, cultivated in most municipalities in the extreme south of the state, in the Serra da Mantiqueira region, with Pouso Alegre and Estiva being the largest producers.[74]

Regarding carrots, Brazil ranked fifth in the world ranking in 2016, with an annual production of around 760 thousand tons. In relation to the exports of this product, Brazil occupies the seventh world position. Minas Gerais is the largest producer in Brazil. Among the production centers in Minas Gerais are the municipalities of São Gotardo, Santa Juliana and Carandaí. As for potato, the main national producer is the state of Minas Gerais, with 32% of the total produced in the country. In 2017, Minas Gerais harvested around 1.3 million tons of the product.[75][76][77][78] In the production of cassava, Brazil produced a total of 17.6 million tons in 2018. Minas was the 12th largest producer in the country, with almost 500 thousand tons.[79]

Milk extraction in Ouro Preto.

Regarding the bovine herd, Minas has the second largest in the country. In 2015, it had a total of 23.8 million head of cattle.[80]

Minas is the main producer of milk in Brazil, with the highest number of milked cows, responsible for 26.6% of production and 20.0% of total milking animals. The municipality of Patos de Minas was the second largest producer in 2017, with 191.3 million liters of milk. In 2015, the state produced 9.1 billion liters of milk.[81]

In terms of pork meat, in 2017, Minas had the 4th largest herd in the country, with 5.2 million heads, 12.7% of the national total.[82]

The state is the third largest producer of eggs in the country, with 9.3% of the Brazilian total in 2019 (which was 3.83 billion dozen).[83]

Mineral extraction

Iron mine in Itabira

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. In mineral production, in 2017, Minas Gerais was the country's largest producer of iron (277 million tons worth R$37.2 billion), gold (29.3 tons worth R$3.6 billion), zinc (400 thousand tons worth R$351 million) and niobium (in the form of hydrochloride) (131 thousand tons worth R$254 million). In addition, Minas Gerais was the second largest producer of bauxite (1.47 million tons at a value of R$105 million), the third of manganese (296 thousand tons worth R$32 million) and fifth of tin (206 tons worth R$4.7 million). There are also deposits of verdete slate, a glauconite-bearing mineral. Minas Gerais had 47.19% of the value of the production of minerals marketed in Brazil (first place), with R$41.7 billion.[84][85][86][87]

The state has the largest production of various precious and semi-precious stones in the country. In aquamarine, Minas Gerais produces the most valuable stones in the world. In diamond, Brazil was the largest diamond producer in the world from 1730 to 1870, mining occurred for the first time in the Serra da Canastra, region of Diamantina, even lowering the price of stone in everyone due to overproduction. Minas Gerais continues to mine diamonds, in addition to having larger or smaller scale productions of agate, emerald, garnet, jasper and sapphire. Topaz and tourmaline stand out. In topaz, Brazil has the most valuable variety in the world, imperial topaz, only produced in Ouro Preto. Furthermore, the country is the world's leading producer of topaz. It's also among the world's largest tourmaline producers.[88][89][90]

In the steel industry, Brazilian crude steel production was 32.2 million tons in 2019. Minas Gerais represented 32.3% of the volume produced in the period, with 10,408 million tons, being the largest steel center. Among the steel companies in Minas Gerais are Usiminas, ArcelorMittal Aços Longos (formerly Belgo Mineira), Açominas (belonging to Gerdau), Vallourec & Mannesmann and Aperam South America.[91][92]

Manufacturing

Oil refinery in Betim
Usiminas headquarters in Belo Horizonte.

There are also large companies installed the automotive industry, as manufacturers FIAT in Betim, IVECO in Sete Lagoas, Mercedes-Benz and suppliers of auto-parts, as STOLA and USIPARTS. In Brazil, the automotive sector represents about 22% of the industrial GDP. Minas Gerais is the third largest vehicle producer in the country, with a 10.7% participation in 2019.[93][94][95][96]

In the electronics industry, the billing of industries in Brazil reached R$153 billion in 2019, around 3% of national GDP. The number of employees in the sector was 234.5 thousand people. Exports were $5.6 billion, and the country's imports were $32 billion. Brazil has two large electroelectronic production centers, located in the Metropolitan Region of Campinas, in the State of São Paulo, and in the Free Zone of Manaus, in the State of Amazonas. The country also has other smaller centers, one of them in the municipality of Santa Rita do Sapucaí, in Minas Gerais. In Santa Rita do Sapucaí, 8 thousand jobs are linked to the sector, with more than 120 companies. Most of them produce equipment for the telecommunications industry, such as decoders, including those used in the transmission of the digital television system. The company Multilaser has a plant in the city of Extrema.[97][98]

In the food industry, in 2019, Brazil was the second largest exporter of processed foods in the world, with a value of US$34.1 billion in exports. The income of the Brazilian food and beverage industry in 2019 was R$699.9 billion, 9.7% of the country's gross domestic product. In 2015, the food and beverage industry in Brazil comprised 34,800 companies (not including bakeries), the vast majority of which were small. These companies employed more than 1.6 million workers, making the food and beverage industry the largest employer in the manufacturing industry. There are around 570 large companies in Brazil, which concentrate a good part of the total industry income. Minas Gerais created food companies of national importance such as Itambé and Pif Paf Alimentos.[99][100][101]

In the footwear industry, in 2019 Brazil produced 972 million pairs. Exports were around 10%, reaching almost 125 million pairs. Brazil ranks fourth among world producers, behind China, India and Vietnam, and 11th among the largest exporters. Minas Gerais has a polo specialized in cheap shoes and sneakers in Nova Serrana. The city has around 830 industries, which in 2017 produced around 110 million pairs.[102][103]

In the textile industry, Brazil, despite being among the 5 largest producers in the world in 2013, and being representative in the consumption of textiles and clothing, has little insertion in world trade. In 2015, Brazilian imports ranked 25th (US$5.5 billion). And in exports, it was only 40th in the world ranking. Brazil's share of world textile and clothing trade is only 0.3%, due to the difficulty of competing in price with producers from India and mainly from China. The gross value of production, which includes the consumption of intermediate goods and services, of the Brazilian textile industry corresponded to almost R $40 billion in 2015, 1.6% of the gross value of industrial production in Brazil. Minas Gerais has 8.51% (third largest production in the country).[104]

Service industry

Tourism is also an important activity for the state: historical cities like Ouro Preto, Mariana, Sabará, Congonhas, Diamantina, Tiradentes, and São João del-Rei, are major attractions for visitors interested in their colonial architecture. Other cities, like Araxá, Poços de Caldas, Lambari, Caxambu, Lavras, and others, attract visitors interested in their mineral watersprings. Eco-tourism is a rising economic activity in the state, especially in localities situated on the several highlands that exist in Minas Gerais.

Tourism

The colonial city of Ouro Preto, World Heritage Site, is one of the most popular destinations in Minas Gerais.

One of the most important tourist circuits in Minas Gerais is the Estrada Real, which passes through the old roads used to transport gold from the mines, connecting the central region of the state with the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Parati. The different itineraries of this circuit present historical, cultural and natural attractions for its visitors. Another noteworthy aspect of tourism in Minas Gerais includes visits to historic cities, which preserve colonial museum buildings, in addition to including museums and cultural spaces that reveal the past of these places. Of these cities, Ouro Preto stands out, where the Museum of Inconfidência is located.[105]

The relief of the state, with an abundance of peaks and mountains (especially the great peaks), in addition to the large number of grottos and caves, natural and artificial rivers and lakes, and the richness of the state's fauna and flora, attract practitioners of ecotourism and adventure tourism. Another relevant segment is rural tourism, since Minas is one of the states with the most developments for this purpose. In the central region of the state, in addition to the historic cities and the capital, there are national parks such as Serra do Cipó, as well as the Inhotim Museum, which has one of the largest collections of contemporary art in the country. In the south of the state, there is the Circuito das Águas, known for its mineral spas.[106] São Lourenço and Poços de Caldas are cities famous for their spas, hot springs and thermal baths.[107][108]

It also highlights business tourism, which is booming, since in recent years important events of international projection have been held in the state. In particular, the city of Belo Horizonte stands out in this segment, attracting more and more fairs, congresses and meetings, which can be attributed to the city's infrastructure and important hotel network. Other cities in the interior (such as Juiz de Fora, Uberaba and Uberlândia) also offer options for holding large business events.[109]

Infrastructure

Highways

BR-050, border of São Paulo with the Triângulo Mineiro.

As of November 2020, the state of Minas Gerais had, in addition to municipal highways, 39,738 km of state and federal highways, of which 29,255 were paved and 2,505 km were duplicate highways. The state has duplicate highways that leave the capital Belo Horizonte and connect it with São Paulo (BR-381) and Rio de Janeiro (BR-040), and in its western part (BR-050, BR-153 and BR-365 in the area known as the Triângulo Mineiro, between the states of São Paulo and Goiás, near Uberaba and Uberlândia). Some parts of BR-262 are also duplicated. The state, however, presents, in general, a duplication deficit, with sections of a single lane with movement above the saturation limit. Recently, in 2022, a project was created to grant BR-381 to private initiative, with the intention of doubling 215 km between Belo Horizonte, Ipatinga and Novo Oriente de Minas.[110][111][112][113]

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.

Railways

Vale train carrying iron ore in Timóteo.

Rail transport has been around since the 19th century, when the Central Railway of Brazil was built in 1860. In 1874, the Leopoldina Railway was inaugurated. In 1880 the Estrada de Ferro Oeste de Minas was founded and in the following decades several other railways were opened in the territory of Minas Gerais. Starting in the 1960s, railways began to be replaced by roads, due to the growing demand for the car fleet, which resulted in the closure of some railways and branches. In the 1990s, the entire national railway system was privatized, disabling the remaining passenger services on some local lines. However, there are still active railways that cross the Minas Gerais, today used only for freight, such as the old Central do Brasil Railway, Leopoldina Railway, Western Minas Railway and Steel Railway, operated by dealers. Railway Center. Atlantic. Vitória a Minas Railway (EFVM) is responsible for transporting the production of Vale and other state companies to the port of Tubarão, in Vitória, Espírito Santo, and also operates the only daily passenger train in Brazil that runs long distances, between Vitória and Belo Horizonte, which connects other cities that also have stations.[114][115][116]

Airport

Confins International Airport

Tancredo Neves 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.[117]

Palácio Tiradentes, the seat of government of Minas Gerais

Administrative center

A new administrative center (Cidade Administrativa de Minas Gerais) was completed in March 2010, for the state of Minas Gerais. Designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, the center consists of four large buildings on an 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 building is the "Palacio do Governo", which is the world's largest suspended structure, built in reinforced concrete. The building has a 150m span, and its roof is supported by four columns.

Education

The "education" factor of Minas Gerais' HDI reached the mark of 0.762 in 2021 — the seventh highest in the country — while the illiteracy rate of people aged 15 and over was 4.8% in 2022, the eleventh best national percentage, but the worst in the Brazilian Southeast.[3][118] Based on the 2011 Basic Education Development Index (IDEB) report, Minas Gerais obtained the highest rate among students in the 5th year of elementary school among Brazilian states — 5.9 —, the third highest value in the 9th year — 4.6, second only to Santa Catarina and São Paulo — and the fourth highest among 3rd year high school students — 3.9, second to Santa Catarina, Paraná and São Paulo.[119] In the 2013 general classification of the National Secondary Education Examination (ENEM), five schools from Minas Gerais were among the ten best in the national ranking, which also included the only school located in a city outside the capital.[120][121]

Partial view of the rectory building of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)

With 11,831 primary education establishments, 7,431 pre-school units and 2,979 secondary schools, the state's education network is one of the most extensive in Brazil.[122] According to data from the 2010 census sample, of the total population, 5,681,163 inhabitants attended daycare centers and/or schools. Of this total, 179,819 attended daycare centers, 492,875 were in pre-school education, 325,115 in literacy classes, 74,319 in youth and adult literacy classes, 2,682,189 in primary education, 176,379 in youth and adult primary education, 859,491 in secondary education, 177,395 in youth and adult secondary education, 624,707 in undergraduate higher education courses, 63,263 in higher-level specializations, 17,514 in master's degrees and 8,096 in doctorates. 12,080,382 people did not attend school units, with 1,835,785 having never attended and 10,244,597 having attended at some point.[123]

Among the many higher education institutions, the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) stands out, ranked as the 7th best university in Latin America in 2024[124] and, together with the Federal University of Viçosa (UFV), the Federal University of Triângulo Mineiro (UFTM) and Federal University of Lavras (UFLA), is among the best in Brazil according to the General Course Index, from the Ministry of Education.[125] The Federal University of Uberlândia (UFU) also stands out in the state, it ranked 4th best in Minas Gerais, and 28th in Brazil, ahead of UFLA, UFOP and UFTM, according to data of the ranking of Brazilian universities by Folha de S. Paulo, in 2016.[126] Minas Gerais is the state with the largest number of federal higher education institutions in the country, housing 20 institutions, including 8 federal institutes, 1 federal center and 11 federal universities.[127] It also has two state institutions: the State University of Minas Gerais and the State University of Montes Claros.[128] In addition to around 350 private and philanthropic colleges and universities present in more than 240 municipalities.[129][130]

Sports

Mineirão stadium in Belo Horizonte

As in the rest of Brazil, football is the most popular sport among locals. Pelé, widely considered the best footballer of all time, was born in the Minas city of Três Corações.[131] Belo Horizonte is home to 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. Reopened after renovations in 2013, Mineirão was chosen as one of the venues for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and also the soccer tournament of the 2016 Summer Olympics.[132] Another stadium in Belo Horizonte, Independência Stadium, was one of the venues of the 1950 FIFA World Cup,[133] where it hosted a legendary upset of the United States team over England.[134]

The biggest teams of Belo Horizonte and Minas as a whole are Atlético Mineiro, founded in 1908 and nicknamed "Galo" (rooster) after its mascot, and Cruzeiro, founded in 1921 as "Palestra Itália" by the members of the local Italian community. Atlético is the record winner of its state championship, the Campeonato Mineiro with 41 titles, the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A title in the 1971 season, two Copa CONMEBOL titles in 1992 and 1997 (the predecessor of the current Copa Sudamericana), one Copa Libertadores title in 2013 and a Copa do Brasil title in 2014. Cruzeiro have won 36 state championships, won four Campeonato Brasileiro Série A titles, the 1966 Taça Brasil (beating Pelé's Santos in the final, a treble in 2003 (after winning the 2003 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A title, the 2003 Copa do Brasil, and the 2003 Campeonato Mineiro title), and most recently won both the 2013 and 2014 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A and Brazilian Cup of 2017 and 2018. Cruzeiro has been one of Brazil's most successful clubs since the 1960s, being elected the most successful Brazilian team of the 20th century by IFFHS. Its titles include 6 editions of the Brazilian Cup, 4 Brazilian Championships and 2 Copa Libertadores in 1976 and 1997, and was the first club of former two-time World Cup and Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo. Atlético Mineiro also have notable players such as former goalkeeper Cláudio Taffarel, who helped Brazil to the 1994 FIFA World Cup title. Both clubs however, have been relegated from the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A in previous seasons, notably Cruzeiro in 2019 and Atlético Mineiro in 2005.

Belo Horizonte is also home to América Mineiro, founded in 1912 current owner of Independência and considered the third force of the state. While the team's struggles combined with the popularization of Atlético and Cruzeiro reduced América's supporters, the team has won both the second and third levels of the Brazilian Championship, the Sul-Minas Cup in 2000, and 16 state championships, including a record dynasty of ten tournaments between 1916 and 1925.[135] Both Villa Nova of Nova Lima and Betim Esporte Clube (when it was known as Ipatinga Futebol Clube) have won the state championship and been in Série A of the Brazilian league.

Besides football, Belo Horizonte has one of the largest attendances at volleyball matches in the whole country. Multisport club Minas Tênis Clube had its male and female teams win the Brazilian Superleague of Volleyball, with Contagem-based Sada Cruzeiro also winning the male tournament. Sada-Cruzeiro also won the FIVB World Club Championship two times in last 3 years, being one of the most successful volleyball team in the world. The Brazil national volleyball team has had some of its highest attendance numbers at Mineirinho, an arena located near the Mineirão stadium.[136] On basketball, both Minas and Uberlândia's Uberlândia Tênis Clube are in the national tournament.

In the state, tennis players Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares were born, who were respectively the nº1 and nº2 of the world in doubles;[137][138] Ronaldo da Costa, former holder of the marathon world record;[139] Olympic medalists such as Maicon de Andrade en taekwondo,[140] Marcus Mattioli in swimming,[141] Moysés Blás and Cláudia Pastor in basketball;[142][143] Adenízia da Silva, Ana Carolina da Silva, Ana Flávia Sanglard, Ana Paula Henkel, Anderson Rodrigues, Camila Brait, Érika Coimbra, Fabiana Claudino, Gabriela Guimarães, Giovane Gavio, Hilma, Marcia Fu, Xandó, Maurício Souza , Lucarelli, Sassá, Sheilla Castro, Talmo and Walewska in volleyball;[144] so as World Championship medalists like André Cordeiro, Henrique Barbosa, Larissa Oliveira, Nicolas Oliveira, Rodrigo Castro and Teófilo Ferreira in swimming.[145][146]

Communications

As of April 2007, there are 11.3 million mobile phones and 4.2 million telephones in the country.[147]

Minas Gerais (MG) cities area phone codes (called DDD in Brazil) are from 31 to 38.[148]

Culture

Door of the Church of São Francisco de Assis in Ouro Preto, with work by Aleijadinho in the Brazilian Baroque style.
Artesanato

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 Americans, or the Northeast with its heavy Afro-Brazilian influence.

People

Those born and raised in Minas Gerais, also called Mineiros, bear an unmistakable accent that sets them apart from fellow Brazilians, although people born in different regions of the state bear slightly different accents, some resembling those of neighboring states, such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Bahia. They are considered reserved, prudent but, at the same time, amicable, 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. 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.

Dialects

The most spoken dialect (48,6%) in the state is mineiro.[149] It is the dialect spoken in the capital, Belo Horizonte, and the historical cities (Ouro Preto, Mariana, Sabará, Diamantina, Tiradentes, São João del-Rei etc.). The vernacular, dialectical speech of Minas Gerais is playfully and informally referred to—particularly with regard to its most idiosyncratic features—as mineirês.

Other dialects are caipira, spoken near the states of São Paulo and Goiás by 33,0%, and baiano, spoken in the Northern region - near Bahia - by 18,4%.

Museums

Yayoi Kusama at the Inhotim in Brumadinho

Mariano Procópio Museum, in Juiz de Fora, and Centro de Arte Contemporânea Inhotim, in Brumadinho, are among the most important cultural institutions.

Cuisine

Pão de Queijo is a traditional snack from Minas Gerais
Cachaça, typical drink from Minas Gerais, which has hundreds of artesanal brands

Minas Gerais is 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.[150]

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.[150]

The state is also recognized for its doce de leite, since Minas Gerais is the largest producer of milk in the country. Minas Gerais 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 high importance, with the state owning hundreds of artisanal factories (in Minas and in the neighboring state of São Paulo, there is the world's largest production of sugar cane, the basis of cachaça production).[151] Typical of the state are Tropeiro beans with torresmo, Tutu de Feijão (Bean's Tutu), chicken with okra stew, galinhada, a rice dish cooked with chicken corn and peas, handmade cheeses, goiabada, paçoca, pamonha, arroz com leite and others. Outside of Minas Gerais it is common to find restaurants specializing in food from the state.[150][151]

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 restaurants 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.

Flag

Main article: Flag of Minas Gerais

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 1963.[152]

The flag's Latin inscription, "Libertas quæ sera tamen", means "Freedom albeit late", and was the motto of the Minas Gerais Conspiracy, which fought for Minas' independence from Portugal in the 18th century. The phrase was taken from Virgil's Eclogues 1.30. The triangle is said to represent the Holy Trinity.[152] The colors were chosen for their revolutionary meaning: white represents the desire to form a peaceful nation, discarding all colonial institutions, and red the flame of liberty or the blood of the revolutionary martyrs such as Tiradentes.

Cities

Main article: List of municipalities in Minas Gerais

In spite of not being the largest state of Brazil and ranking second in population, 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, comparable in area to Madagascar and larger than Metropolitan France. The most notable cities are: the capital Belo Horizonte, Contagem, Betim, Juiz de Fora, Varginha, Muriaé, Montes Claros, Uberlândia, Governador Valadares, Ipatinga, Ouro Preto, Sete Lagoas, Uberaba, Araxá, Patos de Minas, Divinópolis, Barbacena, Itabira, Pouso Alegre, Janaúba, Teófilo Otoni, Conselheiro Lafaiete, Mariana, Poços de Caldas and São João del-Rei.

Notes

References

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