Florianopolis, Brazil: Vacations and travel info
Florianopolis or Floripa, as the locals call it, is also known as "The Magic Island" because of its wonderful weather, splendid scenery, and the kindness and hospitality of the people. It is a tropical paradise and the capital of the State of Santa Catarina. Located just off the coast of Brazil, it is one of the country's most popular destinations attracting tourists predominantly from Sao Paulo, Argentina, Uruguay, United States, and Europe.
Floripa's colonizers came from the Azores and their legacy is very much alive in the local culture today. Their influence can be seen in the architecture, religious traditions, art, and even in the food. However, the indigenous population, called the Guarani Indians, has also influenced many things about the island. Today, Florianopolis is an interesting mix of cultures that took place here long ago, between mainly people from the Azores, Holland, Belgium and the indigenous Guarani Indians. This makes Floripa a truly unique place, bearing no resemblance to any other place in Brazil or anywhere else in Latin America.
According to the UN, Florianopolis has the fastest growing economy and the best score on the Human Development Index in all of Brazil. For that reason, its residents are considered to have the highest standard of living in the country. It is also considered as one of the ten most dynamic cities in the world and the best place to live in Brazil. Because of the state's thriving economy, Santa Catarina is also nicknamed "Brazil's Europe".
Florianopolis is partly located on an island called Santa Catarina and partly on mainland Brazil. Most of Santa Catarina's population either live in the northern half or the center of the island. The southern half, which is more sparsely populated, features mountains, dunes, beaches and coves. The beauty of this southern area earned Floripa the nickname of "The Magic Island".
This area has a humid subtropical climate with significant precipitation, so don't forget to bring your umbrella, and your swimsuit as well! Seasons here are very distinctive; summers are warm reaching temperatures of 93Â°F in December and winters are cold with average low temperatures falling to 45Â°F in July.
According to the archaeological remains, about 4000 years ago this area was inhabited by a tribe known as the Tupi-Guarani. During the Portuguese invasion, the area was known as "island of the ducks" and it later became Santa Catarina Island. It was officially founded in 1673 and called "Nossa Senhora do Desterro", a name that lasted until 1893 when it was changed to Florianopolis in honor of the president of Brazil at that time, Floriano Peixoto. The city was founded by Francisco Dias Velho and originally had a population that consisted of just a few families, a group of Jesuit priests and about 500 indigenous slaves. The island was constantly ransacked by pirates from several countries and you can still see the remains of the fortresses erected to protect it. It was a popular hiding place for pirates on their way to Rio de la Plata (River Plate), in Southern Brazil.
The BeachesFlorianopolis is famous for its breathtaking white and golden beaches. The crystal clear waters change color from aquamarine to turquoise and the sand is incredibly soft. Some of Floripa's beaches are also considered among the best places for surfing in the world, featuring waves that can measure up to a couple of meters high. But there are also beaches with calmer waters, ideal for swimming and enjoying the splendid backdrop of the sea, the sky, the sand, and the lush vegetation.
There are about 100 beaches in Floripa, many of which are in pristine condition and very secluded. Some have warmer water than others, depending on their location on the island. Most of the beaches are great spots for water sports and surfing. Some beaches feature residential areas with restaurants and plenty of nightlife. There are also nude beaches and even some that have historical landmarks that are well worth visiting.
This island was part of an important trade route in colonial times and still has many buildings built by the Portuguese, including fortresses erected to protect the city from attacks by Dutch, Belgian, Spanish, and British pirates. The fortresses have now been restored and are open to the public for tours. There are also a couple of museums located at some of the beaches, where you can see all sorts of objects and artifacts belonging to the indigenous tribes that inhabited the area before the Portuguese arrived.
The city center, located on the main island, features a large central square called Plaza 15 de Noviembre or Plaza XV, often used as an important reference point. Located in the plaza, are the Cathedral of Nossa Senhora do Desterro and the Palacio Cruz e Souza, which houses the Santa Catarina History Museum. Also located in this area is the public market, a 19th century building where you can do some shopping or enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee.
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