was the Portuguese - pioneers known as bandeirantes, Indian hunters and
adventurers - who tamed Santa Catarina, spreading outposts and settlements
along the coast beginning in the 16th century. The Azorean immigrants
came much later, in the 18th century, but it was they who colonized and
helped mold the very special people who inhabit the 500 Km of the state
In the second half of the 19th century the Germans arrived, spreading
themselves across the Itajaí River Valley, penetrating the interior
in search of better land and opportunity. With work and determination,
they built the powerful industrial face of Santa Catarina. Joinville,
Blumenau, Brusque and Pomerode are cities that preserve this strong German
heritage in the architecture, the cooking, the accents and the popular
festivals, such as Oktoberfest.
At the end of the last century the Italians formed the largest migratory
wave to reach Santa Catarina. They principally settled in the southern
portion of the state, near the coast, where until today traditions inherited
from the pioneers are preverved: grape cultivation and wine making, love
of good food, happiness, and religion.
But the mosaic of peoples that forged Santa Catarina's current population
also included the mule team drivers that traveled from Rio Grande do Sul
to São Paulo, the Japanese, the Austrians and more recently the
Gaúchos from Rio Grande do Sul state, who occupied the fertile
lands of the west. All of them are responsible for the rich cultural and
sociological diversity of Santa Catarina.