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Roraima and Boa Vista - History

The north of South America was, during the 16th century, disputed by several countries, which didn´t recognize the sovereignity of Portugal and Spain (read History of Amazonas and History of Pará); as a result, this is the only area of Latin America with influences of France, Holland and UK (the Guyanas).
The first Brazilian expeditions, aimed at guaranteeing the possession of the lands, date back to around 1670; however, only in 1718 did a "entrada" (large expeditions which created villages) was organized, with the goal to capture indians to work in Grão-Pará and Maranhão.
Just like happened in Amazonas and Pará, missionaries were called to try to establish peaceful relations with the indians; however, whereas those states received jesuits, Roraima received carmelites, which left traces still visible in the capital, Boa Vista.
In 1752, as the presence of the Dutch was growing strong, the king determined the building of a fortress; in 1788 the fortress was finished, being named Forte de São Joaquim, which was the origin of Boa Vista.
The conflicts over possessions persisted all through the 18th century. In 1904, a dispute between Brazil and United Kingdom was submitted to international arbitration; Brazil lost a large area, but the borders were definitely established.
In 1890, Boa Vista was elevated to the status of city, under jurisdiction of the State of Amazonas. However, factors like the long distances and the lack of human and financial resources made the administration to be very difficult. The Constitution of 1937 dismembered an area from Amazonas, creating the Territory of Rio Branco (Territory is an administration unit subordinated to the federal government, which determines the governants and provides resources); in 1962, the name was changed to Território of Roraima.

Long distances and small markets attracted little investments, so progress was slow.
In the 1980s, as news about gold and diamonds spread, many people moved to Roraima. Also by this epoch, the conflicts between indians, farmers and mineral diggers started; in 1982, an area of about 70,000 km2 (the areas of Holland and Belgium combined) became an ianomami reserve. The reserve, however, was not respected: late 1980s, Roraima production of gold was larger than Pará´s, a much larger State.
In 1988, the new Constitution promoted Roraima to the status of State; however, a large part of the revenues still comes from Federal government (for example, the entire payroll of civil servants is paid by the central government).

The indians affair is still the most important in Roraima. In 1991, President Collor augmented the ianomami reserve to 94,000 km2, equivalent to 40% of the total area of the State. Besides, IBAMA, the environment protect agency, imposed further restrictions on nearly 84% of the State, turned into ecological reserves.
Large mines of cassiterite were found, mostly in ianomami reserves. More recently, a new reserve, Raposa do Sol, gained the headlines; this reserve of 17,000 km2 would be destined to other tribes (Macuxi, Wapichana, Ingarikó, Patamona and Taurepang); this time, the rice producers allege that their businesses would be hurt, affecting the supply of the product to Roraima.

For many more details about the History of Roraima, visit this site, in Portuguese.

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