vorige Hefte

Werner Toenges:
The Minas Gerais of Brazil

The name of the Brazilian federal state of Minas Gerais means something like 'mines everywhere'. Minas Gerais covers an area of 587 thousand square kilometres and is thus the fifth largest federal state of Brazil, with a population of 16 million. To the north Minas Gerais borders on Bahia, to the west on Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul, to the south on São Paulo and to the east on Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo.

In Minas Gerais today, one of the world's most important centres for the extraction of iron ore is situated. The earth of Minas Gerais contains so much iron that fine, red, laterite soil covers the highways and colours the rivers a reddish brown. Aluminium, zinc and phosphate are also extracted. In Minas Gerais there have been and still are rich deposits of various minerals and types of stone. The historical gold reserves on which the wealth and power of the federal state were once founded have in the meantime being largely exhausted, but in the old gold mines extensive finds of diamonds are now being exploited.

The present article is dedicated to the history of Minas Gerais from its colonization in the early Modern Age up to the present with particular consideration of the specific periods of various mining focal points.