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Origin of the name Caraguatatuba

Caraguatatuba: caraguatá, gravatá,carautá,cruatá,coroá,croatá, croá, plants of the bromeliaceae (pineapple) family, one of the most characteristic genders within the brazilian flora. From the worldwide known 1600 species, about 1000 are found in Brazil. It should be taken as granted that the name according to João Mendes de Almeida in the Geographic Dictionary of the Province of São Paulo is a corruption of Curaá Guatatybo, which means "inlet with highs and lows" due to the many rock outcrops and sandbanks that exist all over the area.

Foundation of Caraguatatuba

The foundation of Caraguatatuba has its source in the years 1653/1654, when João Blau, "Captain-Governor" of the district of the town of Nossa Senhora de Itanhaém (1653/1656) whose ruler by royal legacy was the Countess of Vimieiro, founded the town of Vila de Santo Antonio de Caraguatatuba. Around 1770, and not knowing of its long existence, the Governor of the District of São Paulo, ordered the commander of the military garrison in the town of São Sebastião, that he should build a village at the place called Caraguatatuba, gathering within all the local habitants that he could muster, outlining the places for the town council, jailhouse and other public buildings, since the church for the worship of Santo Antonio already existed.

In 1806 after a ruling by the corregidor of the coastal towns, (caused by different viewpoints about taxes to be paid and due) and, giving credit to the administrator of the chapel, the village of Santo Antonio de Caraguatatuba became known as "The village that deserted", with its residents moving to other places. After the ruling, the village not only ressurected but developed as well, becoming a community by the Law Nr. 336 of March 16, 1847. The municipality was installed on November 23, 1857. On November 30, 1947, by Law Nr. 38, Caraguatatuba was designated a seaside resort. The county was created by Law nr. 5.282 in 1959 and became official on September 23, 1965.

Fazenda dos Inglêses

The name means "The Englismen's Ranch". The ranch, sheltering several families of foreigners living in stone and brick houses within an initial area of 4020 "alqueires" (each alqueire having 27225 square meters or 165x165 meters), the Fazenda São Sebastião (its official name) became known as Fazenda dos Inglêses. In 1927 the ranch provoked general changes in Caraguatatuba's situation.
Under certain aspects these changes were due to its own doings, others became present by their influence:
  • A significant increase in the county's population
  • Specialization of the workforce in agriculture
  • A noteworthy increase of commercial handycrafts
  • Rise of regional and overregional trade
  • Quick expansion of communication facilities
  • A bold increase of Municipal, State and Federal tax revenues.
For their leisure and spare time, the english built tennis , golf and polo courts. Not to mention cricket. In soccer they fought in championships with 30 teams. Played ping-pong and watched documentary movies in the ranch's own theater.

The Fazenda dos Inglêses was the county's main economic development factor until the arrival of the tourists. It was one of the three biggest ranches of its form in South America. An internall railway that reached an extension of 120 kilometers carried the fruits to the port at the river Juqueriquerê that had a 100 meter long pier. From there the harvest was transferred to vessels waiting in the São Sebastião channel that shipped the fruits to England.

Around 1946, at the end of WW II, the ranch revived the production of citrus fruits coming back to the English market and in spite of a creeping decadence survived another 20 years with this activity. With the catastrophe of 1967, half of the ranch's land became covered by a mudslide. A new start of the activities ocurred only in the 90's when the company "Pecuária Serramar" installed a high technology cattle breeding project on the land.


Caraguatatuba became known worldwide by a dramatic catastrophe that happened on march 18, 1967 when a storm of a few hours caused hundreds of landslides in the Serra do Mar mountain range. The range literally advanced over the town covering the area with millions of tons of mud and uprooted trees. After more than two decades after the biggest tragedy that ever happened on the northern shores of São Paulo, Caraguatatuba recovered from its ordeal and grew again. The pain and loss gave place to an intense reconstruction effort, the tourists came back and life returned to its normal course.

Today the town is the most populous and commercially important center of the whole northern seaside. In spite of the ever haggling politicians, the people of Caraguatatuba realized on its own an outstanding reconstruction and touristic marketing effort. A good reference for this work can be read in the essay published in one of Brazil's biggest newspaper, "Folha de São Paulo" on February 2, 1968: "Caraguá volta a sorrir... ( Caraguá smiles again). The town already has forgotten last year's catastrophe and enjoys this year an unusual movement of tourists, exceeding even the most optimistic previews of hotel owners and merchants".

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