Ilha Grande, one of the best beaches in Brazil
Ilha Grande is a Brazilian municipality located in the southern part of Rio de Janeiro state. It is located at an altitude of 6 meters and includes in its territory 365 offshore islands. It was discovered on January 6, 1502, but has been under continual settlement since 1556. Its population was estimated on 1 July 2009 to be 168,664 inhabitants.
It has an area of 816.3 km². The neighboring municipalities are Paraty, Rio Claro and Mangaratiba in Rio de Janeiro state, and Bananal and São José do Barreiro, which are adjacent in São Paulo state.
The municipality fell into decline after 1872 with the advent of railways. It came back into prominence in the 1920s when a railway extension connected it to the states of Minas Gerais and Goias, as a terminus for the transportation of agriculture production from these same two states. The railway extension, in meter gauge, still exists and is currently operated by the Ferrovia Centro-Atlântica company.
In the mid-twentieth century, the municipality was an essential part of the implementation of Companhia Siderurgica Nacional – CSN, Volta Redonda, and the endpoint for coking coal supplied from Santa Catarina. Today the same company also uses the port, in part, for its steel exports.
Its current importance is due, in part, to having a ferry terminal facility in the Bay of Ilha Grande and in part to its harbour, used by TEBIG Petrobras, which transports large quantities of oil and thus positions the port of Angra dos Reis as one of the busiest in the country.
Today, because of its beautiful beaches and nearby regions, the municipality has become a focal point for tourism – not only statewide but on a national scale also. Within the municipality are over three hundred islands, many of them owned by national and international celebrities, with the largest one called Ilha Grande (Portuguese: Big Island).
Most of the municipality is covered by hills, and its hilly terrain helped generate the landslides that occurred at the beginning of 2010, when numerous homes and hotels were severely damaged or destroyed, mainly on Ilha Grande.