1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Espirito Santo

ESPIRITO SANTO, a maritime state of Brazil, bounded N. by Bahia, E. by the Atlantic Ocean, S. by Rio de Janeiro, and W. by Minas Geraes. Pop. (1890) 135,997; (1900) 209,783; area, 17,316 sq. m. With the exception of Sergipe it is the smallest of the Brazilian states. The western border of the state is traversed by low ranges of mountains forming a northward continuation of the Serra do Mar. The longest and most prominent of these ranges, which are for the most part the eastern escarpments of the great Brazilian plateau, is the Serra dos Aymores, which extends along fully two-thirds of the western frontier. Farther S. the ranges are much broken and extend partly across the state toward the seaboard; the more prominent are known as the Serra do Espigão, Serra da Chibata, Serra dos Pilões and Serra dos Purys. The eastern and larger part of the state belongs to the coastal plain, in great part low and swampy, with large areas of sand barrens, and broken by isolated groups and ranges of hills. With the exception of these sandy plains the country is heavily forested, even the mountain sides being covered with vegetation to their summits. The northern and southern parts are fertile, but the central districts are comparatively poor. The coastal plain comprises a sandy, unproductive belt immediately on the coast, back of which is a more fertile tertiary plain, well suited, near the higher country, to the production of sugar and cotton. The inland valleys and slopes are very fertile and heavily forested, and much of the Brazilian export of rosewood and other cabinet woods is drawn from this state. There is only one good bay on the coast, that of Espirito Santo, on which the port of Victoria is situated. The river-mouths are obstructed by sand bars and admit small vessels only. The principal rivers of the state are the Mucury, which rises in Minas Geraes and forms the boundary line with Bahia, the Itaunas, São Domingos, São Matheus, Doce, Timbuhy, Santa Maria, Jucú, Benevente, Itapemirim, and Itabapoana, the last forming the boundary line with Rio de Janeiro. The Doce, São Matheus, and Itapemirim rise in Minas Geraes and flow entirely across the state. The lower courses of these rivers are generally navigable, that of the Rio Doce for a distance of 90 m. The climate of the coastal zone and deeper valleys is hot, humid and unhealthy, malarial fevers being prevalent. In the higher country the temperature is lower and the climate is healthy. Espirito Santo is almost exclusively agricultural, sugar-cane, coffee, rice, cotton, tobacco, mandioca and tropical fruits being the principal products. Agriculture is in a very backward condition, however, and the state is classed as one of the poorest and most unprogressive in the republic. The rivers and shallow coast waters are well stocked with fish, but there are no fishing industries worthy of mention. There are three railway lines in operation in the state—one running from Victoria to Cachoeira do Itapemirim (50 m.), and thence, by another line, to Santo Eduardo in Rio de Janeiro (58 m.), where connexion is made with the Leopoldina system running into the national capital, and a third running north-westerly from Victoria to Diamantina, Minas Geraes, about 450 m. The chief cities and towns of the state, with their populations in 1890, are Victoria, São Matheus (municipality, 7761) on a river of the same name 16 m. from the sea, Serra (municipality, 6274), Guarapary (municipality, 5310), a small port S. by W. of the capital, Conceicão da Barra (municipality, 5628), the port of São Matheus and Cachoeira do Itapemirim (4049), an important commercial centre in the south.

Espirito Santo formed part of one of the original captaincies which were given to Vasco Fernandes Coutinho by the Portuguese crown. The first settlement (1535) was at the entrance to the bay of Espirito Santo, and its name was afterwards given to the bay and captaincy. It once included the municipality of Campos, now belonging to the state of Rio de Janeiro.

The islands of Trinidade and Martim Vaz, which lie about 715 m. E. of Victoria, belong politically to this state. They are uninhabited, but considerable importance is attached to the former because Great Britain has twice attempted to take possession of it. It rises 1200 ft. above sea-level and is about 6 m. in circumference, but it has no value other than that of an ocean cable station. An excellent description of this singular island is to be found in E. F. Knight’s Cruise of theAlerte” (London, 1895).