Brazil // The South //


Despite Joinville’s challenge, BLUMENAU has succeeded in promoting itself as the “capital” of German Santa Catarina. Picturesquely located on the banks of the Rio Itajaí, Blumenau was founded in 1850 by Dr Hermann Blumenau, who served as director of the colony until his return to Germany in 1880. Blumenau always had a large Italian minority, but it was mainly settled by Germans and, as late as the 1920s, two-thirds of the population spoke German as their first language. In the surrounding rural communities an even larger proportion of the population were German speakers, many of them finding it completely unnecessary to learn Portuguese. Well into the twentieth century Blumenau was isolated, with only poor river transport connections with the rest of Brazil beyond the Itajaí valley – circumstances that meant its German character was retained for longer than in Joinville.