All Brazilian capitals:
Aracaju (SE), Belém (PA), Belo Horizonte (MG), Boa Vista (RR), Brasília (DF), Campo Grande (MS), Cuiabá (MT), Curitiba (PR), Florianópolis (SC), Fortaleza (CE), Goiânia (GO), João Pessoa (PB), Macapá (AP), Maceió (AL), Manaus (AM), Natal (RN), Palmas (TO), Porto Alegre (RS), Porto Velho (RO), Recife (PE), Rio Branco (AC), Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Salvador (BA), São Luís (MA), São Paulo (SP), Teresina (PI), Vitória (ES)

Florianópolis is one of the most popular destinations of South Brazil. The modern city with its high living standard attracts many tourists from Europe, the United States and the neighboring Southern American countries. The city is also widely known for its 42 beaches within the city limits.


Florianópolis (nicknamed Floripa) is the capital of the state of Santa Catarina in Southern Brazil. The municipality of Florianópolis is distributed over the Island of Santa Catarina, at the continental coastline, and over surrounding smaller islands. Florianópolis is one of the three Brazilian state capitals – along with São Luís (MA), and Vitória (ES) – that is located on an island. The city has a population of 408 thousand (IGBE, 2009) and a human development index of 0.875. The metropolitan area has a population of slightly less than one million.

Ponte Hercílio Luz, connecting the Santa Catarina
Island with the mainland


Before the arrival of the Portuguese around 1514, the location was inhabited by Carijós indians. They called this location Memebipe, the ‘mountain along the channel’. The Portuguese named the island ‘Ilha dos Patos’, later it was renamed into Ilha Santa Catarina. In 1675, bandeirante (pioneer) Francisco Dias Velho arrived with his family, and they started agricultural activities. In 1678, a chapel was constructed, and consecrated to Nossa Senhora do Desterro (Our Lady of Banishment).

The central market in the center

A little settlement was born, bearing the short name ‘Desterro’. In 1714, Desterro was elevated to the category of village, with the official name ‘Nossa Senhora do Desterro’. In 1726, the village was promoted to the status of city. Since its strategic location (halfway between Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires) the capitania of Santa Catarina was created in 1739. Desterro became its capital. To defend the strategic importance of the city, a defensive ring of fortresses and batteries was constructed. The population of Desterro increased significantly with the arrival of colonists from the Açores and Madeira. They developed agricultural, cotton and linen industry.

Historic Museum Cruz e Souza

In 1777, despite the presence of the defense system of fortresses and batteries, the island was invaded by the Spanish. With the treaty of Santo Ildefonso, ratified in the same year, Portugal retained control of the island. In 1893, shortly after the proclamation of the Republic of Brazil, regional factions in conflict with the central government initiated the so-called Revolta Federalista (Federalist Revolt). They declared Desterro as the capital of the Federalist capital of their republic. The then president of Brazil, Floriano Peixoto, also known as the ‘Iron Marshal’, tried to suppress the rebellion. A bloody civil war started, and only ended in 1895. In 1893, the city of Desterro was renamed in Florianópolis, the city of Floriano, as a kind of expression of loyalty to the president.

Statue of the founder of the city.

Economic Activity

Information technology, services, and tourism are the pillars of the economic activity in the city. Tourists arrive to enjoy the 42 beaches surrounding the island, surfers challenge the sometimes huge waves. Thanks to its high living standard, many people from the state of São Paulo, Argentinians, U.S. citizens, and Europeans consider the city as their second home destination.

Sunset at Praia Forte, north of Ilha Santa Catarina

What to see

Tourists may encounter a diversity of sightings in the historic center. The principal location is Praça XV de Novembro, where a huge fig tree is a silent witness of the recent historic events since the proclamation of the Republic in 1889. The Catedral Metropolitana is located adjacent to this square. A remarkable pink building is located at another side of the square: Palácio Cruz e Sousa, named after the famous poet. It is the former governor’s palace and now hosts the historical museum. The defense ring is also interesting to visit. The closest fortress is Sant’Ana at the base of the antique Hercílio Luz bridge. Inside the fortress one may find the Arms Museum. Other fortresses are located on tiny islands between Ilha Santa Catarina and the mainland, and in the far north and south of the island. The principal fortress in the north is Fortaleza São José da Ponta Grossa, near the beach of Jurerê. The museum inside the fortress tells the history of the fortress system in the area. In the far south, one may find Pântano do Sul. There one may enjoy the tiny beach, and from there a trail to the top of a surrounding hill may be climbed. From Pântano do Sul in northern direction are the isolated beaches of Armação and Matadeiro. To enjoy nightlife, one may go to Lagoa da Conceição, where a diversity of restaurants, bars and night clubs is located. The most popular beaches are at the side of the Atlantic Ocean: Campeche, Barra da Lagoa, Moçambique, and Praia dos Ingleses.

Detailed map of the Ilha Santa Catarina


Floripa – Ilha da Magia
Florianópolis – Ilha da Magia
Santa Catarina, Europe of Brazil
Beaches of Floripa
Jurerê Beach international

Fortresses on Santa Catarina Island (1/3)
Fortresses on Santa Catarina Island (2/3)

Fortresses on Santa Catarina Island 3/3)
Florianópolis in 1974

From Desterro to Florianópolis – history
Jurerê Internacional

Aerial views of Florianópolis
Meeting Blumenau

History of Oktoberfest, Blumenau

Balneário Camboriú

By Adriano Antoine Robbesom

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