The southern gateway into the Amazon, CUIABÁ has always been firmly on the edge of Brazil’s wilderness. Following the discovery of a gold field here in 1719 (one version of the town’s name means the “river of stars”), the town mushroomed as an administrative and service centre in the middle of Indian territory, thousands of very slow, overland miles from any other Portuguese settlement. To the south lay the Pantanal and the dreaded Paiaguá people who frequently ambushed convoys of boats transporting Cuiabá gold by river to São Paulo. The fierce Bororo tribe, who dominated Mato Grosso east of Cuiabá, also regularly attacked many of the mining settlements. Northwest along a high hilly ridge – the Chapada dos Parecis, which now carries BR-364 to Porto Velho – lived the peaceful Parecis people, farmers in the watershed between the Amazon and the Pantanal. By the 1780s, however, most Indians within these groups had been either eliminated or transformed into allies: the Parecis were needed as slave labour for the mines; the Bororo either retreated into the forest or joined the Portuguese as mercenaries and Indian hunters; while the Paiaguá fared worst of all, almost completely wiped out by cannon and musket during a succession of punitive expeditions from Cuiabá.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Brazil features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Amazing new aerial images show uncontacted tribe in Brazil

Amazing new aerial images show uncontacted tribe in Brazil

Incredible aerial images of one of the Amazon rainforest's uncontacted tribes have been released by Survival International. The pictures, taken by photographer …

18 Nov 2016 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
A sex-themed amusement park is set to open in Brazil

A sex-themed amusement park is set to open in Brazil

Forget about virtual-reality roller coasters, the future of theme parks just got a whole lot raunchier. Developers in Brazil are planning to build an adults…

13 May 2016 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
23 brilliant pictures of Brazil

23 brilliant pictures of Brazil

This year sees the Olympics and Paralympics take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. If you're heading to Brazil to catch any of the sporting action, here are a fe…

04 Mar 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month