1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Florianopolis

FLORIANOPOLIS (formerly Desterro, Nossa Senhora do Desterro and Santa Catharina, and still popularly known under the last designation), a city and port of Brazil and the capital of the state of Santa Catharina, on the western or inside shore of a large island of the same name, 485 m. S.S.W. of Rio de Janeiro, in 27° 30′ S., 48° 30′ W. Pop. (1890) 11,400, including many Germans; (1902, estimate) 16,000; of the municipality, including a large rural district and several villages (1890), 30,687. The harbour is formed by the widening of the strait separating the island from the mainland, which is nearly 2 m. wide at this point. It is approached by narrow entrances from the N. and S., which are defended by small forts. The island is mountainous and wooded, and completely shelters the harbour from easterly storms. The surroundings are highly picturesque and tropical in character, but the town itself is poorly built and unattractive. Its public buildings include the president’s official residence, arsenal, lyceum, hospital and some old churches. The climate is warm for the latitude, but the higher elevations of the vicinity are noted for their mild climate and healthfulness. There are some German colonies farther up the coast whose products find a market here, and a number of small settlements along the mainland coast add something to the trade of the town. The more distant inland towns are partly supplied from this point, but difficult mountain roads tend to restrict the trade greatly. There is a considerable trade in market produce with Rio de Janeiro, but the exports are inconsiderable. Santa Catharina was formerly one of the well-known whaling stations of the South Atlantic, and is now a secondary military and naval station.

The island of Santa Catharina was originally settled by the Spanish; Cabeza de Vaca landed here in 1542 and marched hence across country to Asuncion, Paraguay. The Spanish failed to establish a permanent colony, however, and the Portuguese took possession. The island was captured by a Spanish expedition under Viceroy Zeballos in 1777. A boundary treaty of that same year restored it to Portugal. In 1894 Santa Catharina fell into the possession of revolutionists against the government of President Floriano Peixoto. With the collapse of the revolution the city was occupied by the government forces, and its name was then changed to Florianopolis in honour of the president of the republic.