Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil (State) - Encyclopedia

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RIO GRANDE DO SUL, a southern frontier state of Brazil, bounded N. by the state of Santa Catharina, E. by the Atlantic, S. by Uruguay and W. by Uruguay and Argentina - the Uruguay river forming the boundary line with the latter. Area, 91,333 sq. m. Pop. (1900) 1,149,070, an increase of 251,615 since 1890. The northern part of the state lies on the southern slopes of the elevated plateau extending southward from Sao Paulo across the states of Parana and Santa Catharina, and is much broken by low mountain ranges whose general direction across the trend of the slope gives them the appearance of escarpments. A range of low mountains extends southward from the Serra do Mar of Santa Catharina and crosses the state into Uruguay. West of this range is a vast grassy plain devoted principally to stock-raising - the northern and most elevated part being suitable in pasturage and climate for sheep, and the southern for cattle. East of it is a wide coastal zone only slightly elevated above the sea; within it are two great tide-water lakes - Lagoa dos Patos and Lagoa Mirim - which are separated from the ocean by two sandy, partially barren peninsulas. The coast is one great sand beach, broken only at one point - that of the outlet of the two lakes, called the Rio Grande, which affords an entrance to navigable inland waters and several ports. There are two distinct river systems in Rio Grande do Sul - that of the eastern slope draining to the tide-water lakes, and that of the La Plata basin draining westward to the Uruguay. Fully one-third of the state belongs to the La Plata drainage basin. The larger rivers of the eastern group are the Jacuhy, Sinos, Cahy, Gravatahy and Camaquam, which flow into the Lagoa dos Patos, and the Jaguar - do which flows into the Lagoa Mirim. All of the first named, except the Camaquam, discharge into one of the two arms or estuaries opening into the northern end of Lagoa dos Patos, which is called the Rio Guahyba, though in reality it is not a river. It is broad, comparatively deep and about 35 m. long, and with the rivers discharging into it affords upwards of 200 m. of fluvial navigation. The Jacuhy is one of the most important rivers of the state, rising in the ranges of the Coxilha (Cuchilla) Grande of the North and flowing S. and S.E. to the Guahyba estuary, with a course of nearly 300 m. It has two large tributaries - the Vaccacahy from the S. and the Taquary from the N. - besides many small streams. The Jaguarao, which forms part of the boundary line with Uruguay, is navigable 26 m., up to and beyond the town of Jaguarao. Of the many streams flowing northward and westward to the Uruguay, the largest are the Ijuhyguassu, of the plateau region, the Ibicuhy, which has its source in the central part of the state, near Santa Maria, and flows westward to the Uruguay a short distance above Uruguayana and the Quarahim, or Quarahy, which forms part of the boundary line with Uruguay. The Uruguay river itself is formed by the confluence of the Rio das Canoas and Rio Pelotas in about long. 51° 30' W. With its southern confluent, the Rio Pelotas, which has its source in the Serra do Mar, on the Atlantic coast, it forms the northern and western boundary line of the state down to the mouth of the Quarahim, on the Uruguayan frontier. In addition to the Lagoa dos Patos and Lagoa Mirim there are a number of small lakes on the sandy, swampy peninsulas that lie between the coast and these two, and there are others of a similar character along the northern coast. The largest lake is the Lagoa dos Patos (Lake of the Patos - an Indian tribe inhabiting its shores at the time of the discovery), which lies parallel with the coast-line, N.E. and S.W., and is about 133 m. long exclusive of the two arms at its northern end, 25 and 35 m. long respectively, and of its outlet, the Rio Grande, about 24 m. long. Its width varies from 22 to 3 6 m. The lake is comparatively shallow and filled with sand banks, making its navigable channels tortuous and difficult. The Lagoa Mirim occupies a similar position farther S., on the Uruguayan frontier, and is about 108 m. long by 6 to 22 m. wide. It is more irregular in outline and discharges into Lagoa dos Patos through a navigable channel known as the Rio Salo Gongalo. A part of the lake lies in Uruguayan territory, but its navigation, as determined by treaty, belongs exclusively to Brazil. Both of these lakes are evidently the remains of an ancient depression in the coast-line shut in by sand beaches built up by the combined action of wind and current. They are of the same level as the ocean, but their waters are affected by the tides and are brackish only a short distance above the Rio Grande outlet.

Rio Grande lies within the South Temperate zone and has a mild, temperate climate, except in the coastal zone where it is semi-tropical. There are only two well-marked seasons, though the transition periods between them (about two months each) are sometimes described as spring and autumn. The winter months, June to September, are characterized by heavy rains and by cold westerly winds, called minuanos, which sometimes lower the temperature to the freezing point, especially in the mountainous districts. Snow is unknown, but ice frequently forms on inland waters during cold winter nights, only to disappear with the first rays of the sun. In summer, which is nominally a dry season, light rains are common, northerly and easterly winds prevail, and the temperature rises to 95° in the shade. Cases of insolation are not rare. Malaria is unusual and the state has a high reputation for healthiness, though insanitary conditions are responsible for various diseases in large communities.

The principal industry of the state is stock-raising, especially on the southern plains, where large estancias (ranches) are to be found. This industry originated with the Jesuit missions on the Uruguay early in the 17th century, and its development here has been much the same as in Argentina and Uruguay. No general effort was made before the 10th century to improve the herds by the importation of better breeds, and the industry was practically in a state of decay until higher tariff rates were imposed on imported came secca (jerked beef) toward the end of the 19th century. The export of live-stock is insignificant, the practice being to sell the cattle to the xarqueadas or saladeros where they are slaughtered for xarque, charqui or came secca, which is usually prepared by salting and drying in the sun. The jerked beef is largely exported to other Brazilian states for consumption, while the hides and other byproducts are exported to Europe and the United States. The importance of the industry is shown in the exports of 1905, in kilogrammes, viz.: jerked beef, 37,555,951; dry hides, 4,735,987; salted hides, 12,141,779; beef extract, 16,712; ox-tongues, 498,577; tallow, 6,174,189;6,174,189; and large quantities of leather, horns, hoofs, bone-ash and preserved meats. Horses, mules, sheep, goats and swine are also raised; the raising of sheep being fostered by the building of woollen factories, and that of swine by the higher duties on imported pork and lard. In some parts of the state agriculture claims much attention, especially in the forested districts of the north where colonies of foreign immigrants have been established. The principal products are wheat, Indian corn, rice, beans, pease, onions, garlic, farinha de mandioca (cassava flour), potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, fruit, tobacco and peanuts - all of which find a ready market on the coast. Grapes are grown in several localities (Sao Leopoldo, Alegrete, Bage, &c.) for wine-making, and the industry has become important - the export in 1905 being 2,092,417 litres. The forest products include herva matte or Paraguay tea (Ilex paraguayensis), timbers and lumber, and vegetable fibre (crina vegetal). Coal of an inferior quality is mined at Sao Jeronymo, on a small tributary (Arroio dos Ratos) of the Jacuhy river, and has been discovered in other localities. Lime is burned at Cagapava, and at some other places. Gold, copper and iron are said to exist, but are not mined. Considerable progress has been made in manufacturing industries, among whose products are: woollen, cotton and jute textiles, leather, wheat, flour, boots, shoes and sandals (tamnacos), wines and liquors, beer, macaroni, biscuits and other prepared foods, cigars and cigarettes, hats, matches, soap, candles and wrapping paper. Much of this diversity in production is due to the foreign element in the population.

The railway lines in the state are: the Porto Alegre to Novo Hamburgo (27 m.), with an extension to Taquary (28 m.); Porto Alegre to Uruguayana, completed from Margem do Taquary (Bank of the Taquary) to Cacequy (232 m.); Santa Maria to Passo Fundo (221 m.); Rio Grande to Bage (175 m.), with 14 m. in branches at Rio Grande; an extension from Cacequy to Bage (129 m.); and the Quarahim to Itaquy (109 m.). All these except the last have been taken over by the national government and leased to the Belgian "Compagnie auxiliare de Chemin de Fer au Bresil," which has undertaken to complete the line from Cacequy to Uruguayana (161 m.), from Margem do Taquary to Neustadt, on the Novo Hamburgo line (60 m.), and some other branches. The Quarahim to Itaquy line belongs to an English company and runs from the Uruguayan frontier, where it connects with the North-Western of Uruguay, northward to Uruguayana and the naval station of Itaquy.

The population in 1900 was 1,149,070. There is a large foreign element: in 1905 the total number of foreigners residing in the state was estimated at 400,000 (not including children born in the country), and of Germans at 250,000. The first German colony was founded in. 1824 and settled in 1825 in the rich forested country N. of Porto Alegre, and many large and prosperous communities have been established since then in spite of the wars and political agitations in the state. Several of these colonies, such as Sao Leopoldo, Novo Hamburgo and Conde d'Eu (now Garibaldi), have become important towns and are no longer under colonial administration. Italian colonies were subsequently established, also with good results, but an Irish colony founded at Monte Bonito, near Pelotas, about 1851, failed completely. The capital of Rio Grande do Sul is Porto Alegre at the northern extremity of Lagoa dos Patos, and its two next most important cities are Rio Grande and Pelotas, both at the southern extremity of the same lake. Among other important cities and towns, with population returns for 1900, are Alegrete (11,438), prettily situated in the W. part of the state on the Porto Alegre to Uruguayana railway; Bage (13,463), about 173 m. by rail N.W. of Rio Grande in a picturesque mountainous region, 702 ft. above sea-level; Jaguarao (woo), on a river of the same name and opposite the Uruguayan town of Artigas, with steamboat communication with Rio Grande; Cagapava (8781 in 1890) in a fine grazing district in the central part of the state, 1732 ft. above sea-level; Quarahim, or Quarahy (about 650o), a town of much commercial importance on the Quarahim river opposite the Uruguayan town of Santo Eugenio, and surrounded by a rich grazing country which supports one of the largest saladeros in the state; Sao Leopoldo; Santa Maria da Bocca do Monte; and Uruguayana.

The territory was first settled along the Uruguay river by the Jesuits when they were compelled to abandon their missions on the upper Parana. Between 1632 and 1707, they founded on the E. side of the Uruguay seven missions - all under Spanish jurisdiction - which became highly prosperous, and at the time of their transfer from Spanish to Portuguese rule by a treaty of 1750 had an aggregate population of about 14,000, living in villages and possessing large herds of cattle and many horses. A joint effort of the two powers in 1753 to enforce the treaty, remove the Indiatns to Spanish territory, and mark the boundary line, led to resistance and a three years' war, which ended in the capture and partial destruction of the missions. On the coast the first recognized settlement - a military post at Estreito, near the present city of Rio Grande - was made in 1737. Before this, and as early as 1680, according to some chroniclers, the region S. of Santa Catharina was occupied by settlements, or penal colonies, of degradados (banished men) and immoral women from Santos, Sao Vicente and Sao Paulo, and was known as the "Continente de Sao Pedro." In 1738 the territory (which included the present state of Santa Catharina) became the Capitania d'El Rei and was made a dependency of Rio de Janeiro. Territorial disputes between Spain and Portugal led to the occupation by the Spanish of the town of Rio Grande (then the capital of the capitania) and neighbouring districts from 1763 to 1776, when they reverted to the Portuguese. The capture of Rio Grande in 1763 caused the removal of the seat of government to Viamao at the head of Lagoa dos Patos; in 1773 Porto dos Cazaes, renamed Porto Alegre, became the capital. In 1801 news of war between Spain and Portugal led the inhabitants of Rio Grande to attack and capture the seven missions and some frontier posts held by the Spaniards since 1763; since 1801 the boundary lines established by treaty in 1777 have remained unchanged. The districts of Santa Catharina and Rio Grande had been separated in 1760 for military convenience, and in 1807 the latter was elevated to the category of a capitania-geral, with the designation of "Sao Pedro do Rio Grande," independent of Rio de Janeiro, and with Santa Catharina as a dependency. In 1812 Rio Grande and Santa Catharina were organized into two distinct comarcas, the latter becoming an independent province in 1822 when the empire was organized. In 1835 a separatist revolution broke out in the province and lasted ten years. It was reduced more through the use of money and favours than by force of arms; but the province had suffered terribly in the struggle and did not recover its losses for many years. An incident in this contest was the enlistment of Garibaldi for a short time with the forces of the separatists. In 1865 a Paraguayan army invaded the state and on the 5th of August occupied the town of Uruguayana. On the 18th of September following, the Paraguayan general (Estigarribia) surrendered without a fight - an unusual occurrence in the remarkable war that followed. Political agitations have been frequent in Rio Grande do Sul, whose people have something of the temperament of their Spanish neighbours, but no important revolution occurred after the "ten years' war" (1835-45) until the presidency at Rio de Janeiro of General Floriano Peixoto, whose ill-considered interference with the state governments led to the revolt of 1892-94, under Gumersindo Saraiva. In this struggle the revolutionists occupied Santa Catharina and Parana, capturing Curityba, but were eventually overthrown through their inability to obtain munitions of war. An incident in this struggle was the death of Admiral Saldanha da Gama, one of the most brilliant officers of the Brazilian navy and one of the chiefs of the naval revolt of 1893-94, who was killed in a skirmish on the Uruguayan frontier at the close of the war.

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