Minas Gerais (MG)
Located in the Southeast region, Brazil’s second most populated state, and the one with the most municipalities: 853.
Its history is strongly linked to mining and mineral extraction. In fact, Minas Gerais means General Mines, having had its territory used for mining since the 17th century, being the focus of the Gold Rush. Its economic significance has meant that Minas has played a large part in many of Brazil’s most important moments throughout history, such as the Inconfidência Mineira, which was an episode in the long and arduous process of Brazil’s movement towards independence, during the 18th and 19th centuries. Mining still has a role to play in the state’s economy, although nowadays other important industries have also started to make their contributions felt.
Approximately 60% of Brazil’s cultural heritage is situated in the state, which has a strong cultural and artistic tradition. In the more historic cities dotted around its territory, Minas’ architecture and museums help to tell the story of Colonial Brazil. Cultural tourism is a booming industry in the state, boasting historic destinations, arts and crafts, architecture, gastronomy and religious features.
Eco, or Adventure Tourism is another plus of the state. The Mata Atlântica is privileged for its biodiversity, and Minas has one of Brazil’s largest protected areas, where endangered species, such as the Guara wolf, giant anteater, puma, ocelot, pampas deer and merganser are encouraged to thrive. The state parks are perfect places for seeing the regional flora – with orchids, bromeliads, catkins, lichens, fernsand rock fields – and they attract photographers, as well as those looking to get out and about, looking for physical or spiritual well-being.
Minas’ cuisine is yet another high point. Not only is it perhaps the most typical of all Brazilian gastronomic cultures, but it is full of flavour and history, with recipes passed from generation to generation.
Anyone who samples these dishes is encouraged to take the chance to learn a little about the history of the state: its culinary delights are considered the most traditional of all Brazil thanks to the mix of influences that went into their creation, from indigenous peoples to Africans and Europeans, making use of locally sourced ingredients, with chicken, pork, cheeses, corn, roots, herbs and regional vegetables.
In addition to Feijão Tropeiro and the famous Pão de Queijo, countless delicacies are cooked on wood burning stoves: breads, biscuits and cakes. Excellent traditional products, with famous cheeses (Canastra and Serro), home-made sweets and the best cachaça in Brazil – most made in small scale – surprise and delight people trying them for the first time.
The mineiran table, “where there is always room for one more”, is the state’s biggest cultural trademark. The easy-going way of the people makes all who come feel welcome, whatever their taste, interests or desires: from the adventure tourist to those looking for relaxation, from children to pensioners, and from country dwellers to cosmopolitan city-folk.
Traveling around Minas, then, means to be constantly surprised by its culture, nature, traditions, history, flavours and hospitality.
Capital: Belo Horizonte
Area (km2): 586,522.122
Population: 20,869,101 (2015)
Term for a person from this state: mineiro-mineira
Dial code: 31 / 38
Bordering states: São Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás, Distrito Federal,
Bahia, Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro