capital of the State of Mato Grosso,
is considered to be one of the Gateways to the
Pantanal. This city of 500,000 is located at an altitude of 176
meters above sea level (577 feet) and some 700 miles (1,130
kilometers) West of
Brasilia, 430 miles (690 kilometers) from Campo Grande.
Situated at the head of
navigation on the Cuiabá River the city was founded in the gold rush
of the early 18th century.. In 1718 two Bandeirantes from São Paulo, Pascoal Moreira Cabral and Miguel Sutil, found rich seams of gold near the rivers Cuiabá and Coxipó, and in the following year the gold-prospectors' settlement became the Arraial ("Encampment")
de Cuiabá, with Moreira Cabral as its head man. It was granted the status of a vila in 1727, but was chartered as a town only in 1818. In 1823 it was declared capital of the province.
Now Cuiaba is a trading center for an extensive cattle-raising and
agricultural area. Economic development has been hampered by
Cuiabá's isolation and by the shortage of labor. Riverboats remain
an important means of communication.
The main attraction of the area is nature, both
Guimarăes and the
Pantanal are excellent places for sightseeing, rappel,
skydiving, ballooning, trekking,
sport fishing and, especially exotic photography. However, the city
has got a series of tourist attractions of its own, most of them
developed in the hope of retaining some of the tourist dollars that
would, otherwise, be all spent elsewhere in the state.
Cuiabá has got fishing places, a mountain located downtown, a zoo,
some beautiful religious buildings, old churches, a few museums
(some of them quite unusual and worth seeing, like the Gems Museum
and the Candido Rondon Museum).