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For other uses, see Tocantins (disambiguation).
State of Tocantins
Flag of State of Tocantins
Coat of arms of State of Tocantins
Coat of arms
Motto: "Co yvy ore retama"
(Translated from Tupi: "This land is ours")
Location of State of Tocantins in Brazil
Location of State of Tocantins in Brazil
Coordinates: 10°11′S 48°20′W / 10.183°S 48.333°W / -10.183; -48.333Coordinates: 10°11′S 48°20′W / 10.183°S 48.333°W / -10.183; -48.333
Country  Brazil
Capital and Largest City Palmas
 • Governor Marcelo Miranda
 • Vice Governor Claúdia Lelis
 • Total 277,620.91 km2 (107,190.03 sq mi)
Area rank 10th
Population (2012)[1]
 • Total 1,417,694
 • Rank 24th
 • Density 5.1/km2 (13/sq mi)
 • Density rank 22nd
Demonym Tocantinense
 • Year 2006 estimate
 • Total R$ 9,607,000,000 (24th)
 • Per capita R$ 7,210 (17th)
 • Year 2010
 • Category 0.699 – medium (14th)
Time zone BRT (UTC-3)
Postal Code 77000-000 to 77990-000
ISO 3166 code BR-TO

Tocantins (Portuguese pronunciation: [tokɐ̃ˈtʃĩs][2]) is one of the states of Brazil. (From: Tukã´, Toucan + , beak. lit. "Toucan's beak" in Tupi). It is the newest Brazilian state, formed in 1988 and encompassing what had formerly been the northern part of Goiás. Construction of its capital, Palmas, began in 1989; most of the other cities in the state date to the Portuguese colonial period. Tocantins has been developing slowly since then, building on its hydropower resources: the Araguaia and Tocantins Rivers, which drain the largest watershed that lies entirely inside Brazilian territory. Because it is in the central zone of the country, Tocantins not only has characteristics of the Amazon, but also has open pastures. The Ilha do Bananal, in the southwest of the State, is the largest fluvial island in the world. Tocantins is also home to the Araguaia National Park, the Carajás Indian reservations, and Jalapão state park, which is about 250 kilometres (160 mi) from Palmas. There, the rivers create oases in the dry landscape, attracting many ecotourists to the region.


Tocantins geography is varied. It straddles both the Amazon Rainforest and the coastal savanna. Many rivers (including the Tocantins River) traverse the state, and it contains more than 20 archaeologically significant sites.


Jalapão in Tocantins

Most of Tocantins (except the extreme western and northern regions) is situated within a vast Brazilian area known as the cerrado. The cerrado region's typical climate is hot and semi-humid, with pronounced seasonal variation marked by a dry winter from May through October. The annual rainfall is around 800 to 1600 mm. The soils are generally very old, deep, and naturally nutrient-poor.


The "cerrado" landscape is characterized by extensive savanna formations crossed by gallery forests and stream valleys. Cerrado includes various types of vegetation. Humid fields and "buriti" palm paths are found where the water table is near the surface. Alpine pastures occur at higher altitudes and mesophytic forests on more fertile soils.

The savanna formations are not homogenous. There is great variation between the amount of woody and herbaceous vegetation, forming a gradient from completely open "cerrado" — open fields dominated by grasses — to the closed, forest-like "cerrado" and the "cerradão" ("big cerrado"), a closed canopy forest. Intermediate forms include the dirty field, the "cerrado" field, and the "cerrado" sensu stricto, according to a growing density of trees.

The "cerrado" trees have characteristic twisted trunks covered by a thick bark, and leaves which are usually broad and rigid. Many herbaceous plants have extensive roots to store water and nutrients. The plant's thick bark and roots serve as adaptations for the periodic fires which sweep the cerrado landscape. The adaptations protect the plants from destruction and make them capable of sprouting again after the fire.

As in many savannas in the world, the "cerrado" ecosystems have been coexisting with fire since ancient times; initially as natural fires caused by lightning or volcanic activity, and later caused by man.

Along the western boundary of the state is the floodplain of the Araguaia River, which includes extensive wetlands and Amazon tropical forest ecosystems. Bananal island, formed by two branches of the Araguaia, is said to be the largest river island in the world, and consists mostly of marshlands and seasonally flooded savannas with gallery forest. Where the two branches meet again they form an inland delta called Cantão, a typical Amazonian igapó flooded forest. The Araguaia is also one of the main links between the Amazonian lowlands and the Pantanal wetlands to the south.


Jesuit missionaries explored what is today Tocantins state about 1625, seeking to convert the Amerindian peoples of the area to Christianity. The area is named after the Tocantins River, which in turn is an indigenous name.

Before 1988 the area was part of the Goiás state, in the north of the state. However, ever since the 17th century, the north has been isolated and difficult to access. As a result, the southern area of the state became more developed, and there had been a strong separatist movement in the north for many years.

The first large scale stirrings of separatism were in 1809, when heavy taxes were levied on mining. This led to a minor revolt which was quickly crushed by the army. A string of failed uprisings occurred in the 19th century.

In the 1970s, pressure was put on the federal government by the population of northern Goiás for a separate state, and in the 1988 Constitution, the State of Tocantins was officially created and admitted as a new Brazilian state.[citation needed]

Since its establishment, Tocantins has been the fastest-growing Brazilian state, with a thriving economy based on agriculture and agro-industry which attracts immigrants from all over the country. The construction of the long-planned North-South Railway (Brazil) will probably boost the economic growth even more. Tocantins is also considered one of the best-managed Brazilian states[according to whom?].


According to the IBGE of 2007, there were 1,377,000 people residing in the state. The population density was 4.8 inh./km².

Urbanization: 71.5% (2004); Population growth: 2.6% (1991–2000); Houses: 355,502 (2005).[4]

The last PNAD (National Survey of Households) census revealed the following numbers: 948,000 Brown (Multiracial) people (68.9%), 330,000 White people (24.0%), 95,000 Black people (6.9%), 2,000 Asian or Amerindian people (0.2%).[5]


The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 59.9%, followed by the industrial sector at 27.2%. Agriculture represents 12.9% of GDP (2004). Tocantins exports: soybean 89.2%, beef 10.5% (2002).

Share of the Brazilian economy: 0.4% (2005).

As with much of Brazil, Tocantins' economy is dependent on cattle raising, though the state's pineapple plantations not only supply much of Brazil with the fruit, but also many other Mercosul nations with it too. In the state's north, charcoal and oils are extracted from the babaçu palm tree.

The federal government, seeking to broaden Tocantins' economic base by funding the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the state, allowed a private company to construct a sizable five-turbine hydroelectric dam, blocking the Tocantins river and displacing some indigenous inhabitants. However, its contribution to the state is indisputable – one turbine alone powers the entire state of Tocantins while the remaining four provide electricity which is sold to other parts of Brazil.


Portuguese is the official national language, and thus the primary language taught in schools. But English and Spanish are part of the official high school curriculum.

Educational institutions[edit]

  • Universidade Federal do Tocantins (UFT) (Federal University of Tocantins);
  • Fundação Universidade do Tocantins (Unitins) (Foundation University of Tocantins);
  • Instituto Federal do Tocantins (IFTO) ( Federal Institute of Tocantins)
  • Escola Técnica Federal de Palmas (ETF-TO);
  • Faculdade de Tecnologia de Palmas (FTP);
  • Fundação Unirg (Unirg) (Foundation Unirg);
  • and many others.


The BR-153 (also known as Belém-Brasília Highway) is the main highway of the Tocantins state.

Palmas Airport[edit]

The facility occupies one of Brazil’s largest airport sites and has privileged location near the Lajeado Hydroelectric Station. Designed with a modern concept of visual communication, the new Palmas Airport Complex contains an Aeroshopping area, a program developed by Infraero aiming to turn Brazil’s main airports into true commercial centers with their own brand and identity. The passenger terminal has 12.300 square meters of constructed area and capacity to serve up to 370 thousand people a year. It has a food court, cultural space, shops, panoramic deck, elevators and air conditioning. The runway can receive aircraft the size of a Boeing 767. There are three taxiways and aprons for general aviation, making operations more flexible. The airport has full infrastructure that includes a control tower and installations for the Air Navigation Group, fire brigade, a covered equipment parking area, canteen and training rooms, two aircraft fueling stations, a gate with electronic entry control, guard booths. parking and flight protection buildings, besides a 4 km (2.48 mi) access road linking the airport to the Tocantins capital city’s main thoroughfare.

Federal highways[edit]

Protected areas[edit]

Araguaia National Park is located on Bananal Island. It borders Cantão State Park, and together, these strictly protected areas form the core of the Araguaia Mosaic of Protected Areas, which consists of over four million hectares of state and federal protected areas and Indian lands along the Araguaia wetlands. The mosaic also extends into the neighboring states of Pará and Mato Grosso.

Nascentes do Rio Parnaiba National Park is located on the opposite corner of the state, in the transition zone between the Cerrado and the semi-arid Caatinga. It also extends into the neighboring states of Maranhão and Piauí.

In addition, the State of Tocantins has established state parks at Jalapão and Serra do Lajeado, protecting two unique samples of the Cerrado. The state parks and protected areas of Tocantins are managed by Naturatins, the state environmental agency.


The message of the flag is the phrase "where the sun rises for all". In the middle of the flag is the golden yellow sun, with its rays symbolically targeting to the future of the state. The sun is placed on a white band, where the white color represents peace. The blue in the upper left and the yellow in the bottom right represent the waters and the soil of the state. The colors date back to a flag used by the Autonomous Government of Palmas in the 19th century.

The flag was adopted with the state flag law (law no 094/89) of November 17, 1989.


Other cities include:

Popular culture[edit]

Survivor: Tocantins — The Brazilian Highlands was the eighteenth season of the United States reality show Survivor filmed in the microregion of Jalapão in Tocantins. The premiere aired Thursday, February 12, 2009.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ The presented pronunciation is in Brazilian Portuguese variant spoken in Tocantins (and most of Brazil).The European Portuguese pronunciation is [tokɐ̃ˈtĩʃ].
  3. ^ IBGE (2010). "CENSO 2010 - TOCANTINS" (PDF). Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  4. ^ Source: PNAD.
  5. ^ Síntese de Indicadores Sociais 2007 (PDF) (in Portuguese). Tocantins, Brazil: IBGE. 2007. ISBN 85-240-3919-1. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 

External links[edit]