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MATTO GROSSO

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 902 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MATTO GROSSO, an inland state of Brazil, bounded N. by Amazonas and Path, E. by Goyaz, Minas Geraes, Sao Paulo and Parana, S. by Paraguay and S.W. and W. by Bolivia. It ranks next to Amazonas in size, its area, which is largely unsettled and unexplored, being 532,370 sq. m., and its population only 92,827 in 1890 and 118,025 in 1900. No satisfactory estimate of its Indian population can be made. The greater part of the state belongs to the western extension of the Brazilian plateau, across which, between the 14th and 16th parallels, runs the water-shed which separates the drainage basins of the Amazon and La Plata. This elevated region is known as the plateau of Matto Grosso, and its elevations so far as known rarely exceed 3000 ft. The northern slope of this great plateau is drained by the Araguaya-Tocantins, Xingu, Tapajos and Guapore-Mamore-Madeira, which flow northward, and, except the first, empty into the Amazon; the southern slope drains southward through a multitude of streams flowing into the Parana and Paraguay. The general elevation in the south part of the state is much lower, and large areas bordering the Paraguay are swampy, partially submerged plains which the sluggish rivers are unable to drain. The lowland elevations in this part of the state range from 300 to 400 ft. above sea-level, the climate is hot, humid and unhealthy, and the conditions for permanent settlement are apparently unfavourable. On the highlands, however, which contain extensive open campos, the climate, though dry and hot, is considered healthy. The basins of the Parana and Paraguay are separated by low mountain ranges extending north from the sierras of Paraguay. In the north, however, the ranges which separate the river valleys are apparently the remains of the table-land through which deep valleys have been eroded. The resources of Matto Grosso are practically undeveloped, owing to the isolated situation of the state, the costs of transportation and the small population. The first industry was that of mining, gold having been discovered in the river valleys on the southern slopes of the plateau, and diamonds on the head-waters of the Paraguay, about Diamantino and in two or three other districts. Gold is found chiefly in placers, and in colonial times the output was large, but the deposits were long ago exhausted and the industry is now comparatively unimportant. As to other minerals little is definitely known. Agriculture exists only for the supply of local needs, though tobacco of a superior quality is grown. Cattle-raising, however, has received some attention and is the principal industry of the landowners. The forest products of the state include fine woods, rubber, ipecacuanha, sarsaparilla, jaborandi, vanilla and copaiba. There is little export, however, the only means of communication being down the Paraguay and Parana rivers by means of subsidized steamers. The capital of the state is Cuyaba, and the chief commercial town is Corumba at the head of navigation for the larger river boats, and 1986 m. from the mouth of the La Plata. Communication between these two towns is maintained by a line of smaller boats, the distance being 517 M. The first permanent settlements in Matto Grosso seem to have been made in 1718 and 1719, in the first year at Forquilha and in the second at or near the site of Cuyaba, where rich placer mines had been found. At this time all this inland region was considered a part of Sao Paulo, but in 1748 it was made a separate capitania and was named Matto Grosso (" great woods "). In 1752 its capital was situated on the right bank of the Guapore river and was named Villa Bella da Santissima Trindade de Matto Grosso, but in 182o the seat of government was removed to Cuyaba and Villa Bella has fallen into decay. In 1822 Matto Grosso became a province of the empire and in 1889 a republican state. It was invaded by the Paraguayans in the war of 186o-65.
End of Article: MATTO GROSSO
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