Rio Grande do Sul Overview

Stage of bloody struggles since the early days of the occupation, and especially throughout the 18th century, the colonization effort forged in Rio Grande people a strong and towering character. In the 19th century, Rio Grande became the laboratory for a successful European immigration experience.

The state of Rio Grande do Sul is a unit of the Federative Republic of Brazil located in the extreme south of the country. With an area of ​​282,062km2, which corresponds to just over three percent of the Brazilian territory, Rio Grande do Sul is limited to the east with the Atlantic Ocean, to the north with the state of Santa Catarina, to the west with Argentina and to the south with Uruguay. The state area includes a substantial body of inland waters, represented by coastal lagoons such as those of Patos, Mirim and Mangueira. The capital is Porto Alegre.


According to, two climatic types characterize Rio Grande do Sul. The subtropical climate with well-distributed rainfall throughout the year and hot summers (Cfa on the Köppen scale) occurs in most parts of the state. It registers average annual temperatures of 18 ° C and a rainfall of 1,500mm. The Cfb climate, subtropical with well-distributed rainfall throughout the year and mild summers, occurs in the higher portions of the Rio Grande do Sul territory, that is, in the highest portion of the basaltic plateau, and in the dissected plateau of the southeast. Records an average annual temperature of 16 ° C and annual rainfall of 1,100 mm.

Of the winds that blow in the state, two have local denominations: the pampeiro, a warm wind, coming from the Argentine pampas; and the minuano, a cold, dry wind, originating in the foothills of the Andes.


The drainage network comprises rivers that belong to the Uruguay basin and rivers that flow into the Atlantic. The Jacuí, Taquari, Caí, Gravataí, Guaíba and Sinos rivers, among others, are reasonably used for navigation. The entire western region of the state and a narrow strip of land along the border with Santa Catarina belong to the Uruguay basin. It includes, in addition to the Uruguay River and its formator, Pelotas, the tributaries of the left bank: Passo Fundo, Ijuí, Piratini, Ibicuí and Quaraí.

The entire eastern half of the state belongs to the Atlantic slope, drained by rivers whose waters, before reaching the Atlantic, go to one of the coastal lagoons. Thus, the Mirim Lagoon collects the waters of the Jaguarão River, the Patos Lagoon, the Turucu, Camaquã and Jacuí Rivers, the latter through the Guaíba estuary. The Patos lagoon communicates with the Mirim lagoon through the São Gonçalo channel, and with the Atlantic through the Rio Grande bar. In addition to the two large lagoons, there are numerous smaller ones on the coastal plain, including Itapeva, Quadros, Peixe and Mangueira.


Two types of vegetation cover occur in Rio Grande do Sul: fields and forests. The fields occupy about 66% of the state’s surface. In general, they cover the areas of regular, flat or slightly undulating topography, that is, the central depression and most of the basaltic plateau.

Forests cover 29% of the state’s territory. They appear on the hillside and in the most rugged portions in the basaltic plateau, in the dissected plateau of the southeast and, also, in the form of capons and riparian forests, dispersed through the fields, covering the rest of the state. In areas of higher altitude, with more than 400m, the so-called pine forest dominates, a mixed forest of broadleaved and coniferous trees, the so-called pine forest. In the other areas, the broadleaved forest occurs.

Yerba mate is present in both types of forest, which has been the object of economic exploitation since the beginning of the state’s settlement. In about five percent of the territory there is vegetation of the coastal type, which grows in the sands of the coast.


The population of Rio Grande do Sul is of predominantly European origin, mainly settled there from the 18th century and reinforced, in the 19th century, by German and Italian immigrants. The most densely populated area in the state is Porto Alegre, which includes 21 nearby municipalities. The neighboring regions of the north coast and the edge of the basaltic plateau are also among the most populated. They are followed by, in the western portion of the state, the areas of Passo Fundo and Iraí.

The entire territory of Rio Grande do Sul is in the area of ​​influence of the city of Porto Alegre. The action of the capital of Rio Grande do Sul still reaches a small southern strip of the state of Santa Catarina. In the interior of Rio Grande do Sul the influence of Porto Alegre is effective through intermediate centers, such as Caxias do Sul, Passo Fundo, Pelotas-Rio Grande, Erexim, Santa Cruz do Sul, Cruz Alta, Ijuí, Santa Maria, Bajé, Santana do Livramento, Alegrete and Uruguaiana.

The capital of Rio Grande do Sul is among the largest cities in Brazil. The expansion of its urban area by neighboring municipalities led to the establishment of a metropolitan area in which Alvorada, Cachoeirinha, Campo Bom, Canoas, Dois Irmãos, Eldorado do Sul, Estância Velha, Esteio, Glorinha, Gravataí, Guaíba, Ivoti, Nova Hartz participate , Novo Hamburgo, Parobé, Portão, São Leopoldo, Sapiranga, Sapucaia do Sul, Triunfo and Viamão.

Rio Grande do Sul Overview