The road leading to SANTA MARIA DE JETIBÁ passes through hilly terrain, densely cultivated with coffee bushes, interspersed with pine plantations and, on the steepest of hillsides, patches of Mata Atlântica. As you enter Santa Maria – essentially one long street, the Avenida Frederico Grulke – you are greeted by a “Willkommen” sign. This is an outward expression of Santa Maria’s intense pride in its German heritage, an ancestry the village is keen to promote as a tourist attraction. Virtually the entire population is descended from mid-nineteenth-century immigrants from Pomerania and today remains bound together by a common heritage based on the continued use of the Pommersch Platt dialect and membership in the Lutheran Church.
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