Tocantins Information

Tocantins state was formed in 1988 out of the northern part of Goiás, and construction began in the capital city, Palmas, in 1989. It is the newest Brazilian state and, because it is still very young, it is developing slowly, building on its most important resources: the rivers Araguaia and Tocantins, the largest hydro basin entirely inside Brazilian territory. Because it is in the central zone of the country, it has characteristics of the Amazon, but also has open pastures. The Ilha do Bananal, in the southwest of the State, is the largest fluvial island in the world. Tocantins is also home to the Araguaia National Park and the Carajás Indian reservations. Another highlight is the Jalapão, about 250 kilometers from the capital, Palmas. There, the rivers create true oases in the dry landscape, attracting many ecotourists to the region.


Amazon Rainforest

Tocantins forms the boundary between the Amazon Rainforest and the coastal savanna. As a result, the state's geography is varied. Many rivers cross through the state (including one of the same name), and there are over 20 archaeologically significant sites found in Tocantins.


Jalapão in Tocantins

Most of Tocantins(except the extreme west and northern regions) is situated within a vast Brazilian area known as the cerrado. The cerrado region's typical climate is hot, semi-humid, with pronounced seasonality marked by a dry winter season from May through October. The annual rainfall is around 800 to 1600 mm. The soils are generally very old, deep, and naturally nutrient-poor.

The "cerrado" landscape is characterized by extensive savanna formations crossed by gallery forests and stream valleys. Cerrado includes various types of vegetation. Humid fields and "buriti" palm paths are found where the water table is near the surface. Alpine pastures occur at higher altitudes and mesophytic forests on more fertile soils.

The savanna formations are not homogenous. There is great variation between the amount of woody and herbaceous vegetation, forming a gradient from completely open "cerrado" — open fields dominated by grasses — to the closed, forest-like "cerrado" and the "cerradão" ("big cerrado"), a closed canopy forest. Intermediate forms include the dirty field, the "cerrado" field, and the "cerrado" sensu stricto, according to a growing density of trees.

The "cerrado" trees have characteristic twisted trunks covered by a thick bark, and leaves which are usually broad and rigid. Many herbaceous plants have extensive roots to store water and nutrients. The plant's thick bark and roots serve as adaptations for the periodic fires which sweep the cerrado landscape. The adaptations protect the plants from destruction and make them capable of sprouting again after the fire.

As in many savannas in the world, the "cerrado" ecosystems have been coexisting with fire since ancient times; initially as natural fires caused by lightning or volcanic activity, and later caused by man.

Along the western boundary of the state is the floodplain of the Araguaia River, which includes extensive wetlands and Amazon tropical forest ecosystems. Bananal island, formed by two branches of the Araguaia, is said to be the largest river island in the world, and consists mostly of marshlands and seasonally flooded savannas with gallery forest. Where the two branches meet again they form an inland delta called Cantão, a typical Amazonian igapó flooded forest. The Araguaia is also one of the main links between the Amazonian lowlands and the Pantanal wetlands to the south.

Jesuit missionaries explored what is today Tocantins state about 1625, seeking to convert the Amerindian peoples of the area to Christianity. The area is named after the Tocantins River, which in turn is an indigenous name.

Before 1988 the area was part of the Goiás state, in the north of the state. However, ever since the 17th century, the north has been isolated and difficult to access. As a result, the southern area of the state became more developed, and there had been a strong separatist movement in the north for many years.

The first large scale stirrings of separatism were in 1809, when heavy taxes were levied on mining. This led to a minor revolt which was quickly crushed by the army. A string of failed uprisings occurred in the 19th century.

In the 1970s, pressure was put on the federal government by the population of northern Goiás for a separate state, and in the 1988 Constitution, Tocantins state was officially created.[citation needed]

Since its establishment, Tocantins has been the fastest-growing Brazilian state, with a thriving economy based on agriculture and agro-industry which attracts immigrants from all over the country. The construction of the long-planned North-South Railway (Brazil) will probably boost the economic growth even more. Tocantins is also considered one of the best-managed Brazilian states.

According to the IBGE of 2007, there were 1,377,000 people residing in the state. The population density was 4.8 inh./km².

Urbanization: 71.5% (2004); Population growth: 2.6% (1991–2000); Houses: 355,502 (2005).[5]

The last PNAD (National Survey of Households) census revealed the following numbers: 948,000 Brown (Multiracial) people (68.9%), 330,000 White people (24.0%), 95,000 Black people (6.9%), 2,000 Asian or Amerindian people (0.2%).[6]

The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 59.9%, followed by the industrial sector at 27.2%. Agriculture represents 12.9% of GDP (2004). Tocantins exports: soybean 89.2%, beef 10.5% (2002).

Share of the Brazilian economy: 0.4% (2005).

As with much of Brazil, Tocantins' economy is dependent on cattle raising, though the state's pineapple plantations not only supply much of Brazil with the fruit, but also many other Mercosul nations with it too. In the state's north, charcoal and oils are extracted from the babaçu palm tree.

The federal government, seeking to broaden Tocantins' economic base by funding the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the state, allowed a private company to construct a sizable five-turbine hydroelectric dam, blocking the Tocantins river and displacing some indigenous inhabitants. However, its contribution to the state is indisputable - one turbine alone powers the entire state of Tocantins while the remaining four provide electricity which is sold to other parts of Brazil.


The BR-153 (also known as Belém-Brasília Highway) is the main highway of the Tocantins state.

Palmas Airport

The facility occupies one of Brazil’s largest airport sites and has privileged location near the Lageado Hydroelectric Station. Designed with a modern concept of visual communication, the new Palmas Airport Complex contains an Aeroshopping area, a program developed by Infraero aiming to turn Brazil’s main airports into true commercial centers with their own brand and identity. The passenger terminal has 12.300 square meters of constructed area and capacity to serve up to 370 thousand people a year. It has a food court, cultural space, shops, panoramic deck, elevators and air conditioning. The runway can receive aircraft the size of a Boeing 767. There are three taxiways and aprons for general aviation, making operations more flexible. The airport has full infrastructure that includes a control tower and installations for the Air Navigation Group, fire brigade, a covered equipment parking area, canteen and training rooms, two aircraft fueling stations, a gate with electronic entry control, guard booths. parking and flight protection buildings, besides a 4 km (2.48 mi) access road linking the airport to the Tocantins capital city’s main thoroughfare.

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