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Coordinates: 10°11′S 48°20′W / 10.183°S 48.333°W / -10.183; -48.333
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Estado do Tocantins
State of Tocantins
Coat of arms of Tocantins
"Co yvy ore retama"
(Translated from Tupi: "This land is ours")
Anthem: Hino do Tocantins
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; -48.333
Country Brazil
FoundedOctober 5, 1988
Capital and largest cityPalmas
 • GovernorWanderlei Barbosa (Republicanos)
 • Vice GovernorLauraz da Rocha Moreira (PDT)
 • SenatorsEduardo Gomes (PL)
Irajá Abreu (PSD)
Dorinha Rezende (UNIÃO)
 • Total277,620.91 km2 (107,190.03 sq mi)
 • Rank10th
 • Total1,383,445
 • Estimate 
 • Rank24th
 • Density5.0/km2 (13/sq mi)
  • Rank22nd
 • TotalR$ 51.781 billion
(US$ 9.605 billion)
 • Year2021
 • Category0.731[3]high (13th)
Time zoneUTC−3 (BRT)
Postal Code
77000-000 to 77990-000
ISO 3166 codeBR-TO
License plate letter sequenceMVL to MXG, OLH to OLN, OYA to OYC, QKA to QKM, QWA to QWF, RSA to RSF

Tocantins (Brazilian Portuguese: [tokɐ̃ˈtʃĩs] [a]) is one of the 26 states of Brazil. It is the newest state, formed in 1988 and encompassing what had formerly been the northern two-fifths of the state of Goiás.[4] Tocantins covers 277,620.91 square kilometres (107,190.03 sq mi) and had an estimated population of 1,496,880 in 2014.[1] Construction of its capital, Palmas, began in 1989; most of the other cities in the state date to the Portuguese colonial period. With the exception of Araguaína, there are few other cities with a significant population in the state. The government has invested in a new capital, a major hydropower dam, railroads and related infrastructure to develop this primarily agricultural area. The state has 0.75% of the Brazilian population and is responsible for 0.5% of the Brazilian GDP.

Tocantins has attracted hundreds of thousands of new residents, primarily to Palmas. It is building on its hydropower resources. The Araguaia and Tocantins rivers drain the largest watershed that lies entirely inside Brazilian territory. The Rio Tocantins has been dammed for hydropower, creating a large reservoir that has become a center of recreation. Because it is in the central zone of the country, Tocantins has characteristics of the Amazon Basin, and also semi-open pastures, known as cerrado. The Bananal Island (Ilha do Bananal), in the southwest of the State, is the second largest fluvial island in the world.[5] 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.


The name "Tocantins" refers to the Tocantins River, which itself derives from the Tupi language words tukã´, "toucan", and , "beak", literally "Toucan's beak".[6]


Amazon rainforest

The geography of Tocantins is varied. It straddles both the Amazon rainforest and the coastal savanna. Many rivers (including the Tocantins River) traverse the state. Researchers have identified more than 20 archaeologically significant sites related to indigenous cultures.[7]

Tocantins is bordered to the northeast by the states of Maranhão and Piauí, Bahia to the east, Goiás to the south, Mato Grosso to the west, and Pará to the northwest. Tocantins was created from the northern two-fifths of Goiás state in 1989 and is divided into 139 municipalities.[1][8]

Following its separation from Goiás, the new state was transferred from Brazil's Central-West Region to the North Region.[citation needed]


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.[4] The average annual rainfall is around 1500 mm.[9]


Serra Geral do Tocantins Ecological Station

The "cerrado" landscape cover 87% of Tocantins and is characterized by extensive savanna formations crossed by gallery forests and stream valleys.[4] 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. In the north of Tocantins the cerrado gives place to a zone of transition for the Amazon biome, near Tocantins River.

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 that 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 they developed adaptations to natural fires caused by lightning or volcanic activity.

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.[5][8] It 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, but the river is not fully navigable.


Map of the Province of Araguaia, that would be created during the Empire of Brazil, 1873. Today, Tocantins lies in this area. National Archives of Brazil.

Portuguese 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, whose name is derived from an indigenous language. (From: Tukô, Toucan + , beak. lit. "Toucan's beak" in Tupi language.)[8]

Before 1988 the area made up the northern two-fifths or one-third of Goiás state.[10] Since the 17th century, this area was relatively isolated by rivers navigable only in short portions and mountains, and difficult to access. As a result, the southern area of the state became more developed, particularly after this area was selected in 1956 as the site for the development of the new capital of Brasília and the Federal District.[10][better source needed] A strong separatist movement developed in the north for independence of its people.[citation needed]

After the government levied heavy taxes on mining in 1809, local residents began to organize a separatists movement. They made a minor revolt which was quickly crushed by the army. In the 19th century, a string of failed uprisings occurred in the north. Historically the area was inhabited chiefly by Amerindians in some intact indigenous tribes and pardos of Amerindian and Portuguese descent.[citation needed]

In the 1970s, the population of northern Goiás lobbied the government to establish a separate state. In the 1988 Constitution, the State of Tocantins was created and admitted as a new Brazilian state.[11]

Since its establishment and investment by the government, as in the new capital of Palmas, Tocantins has been the fastest-growing Brazilian state. Its thriving economy is based on agriculture and agro-industry, attracting thousands of migrants from all over the country. The construction of the long-planned North–South Railway is expected to further boost economic growth.[citation needed]


According to the 2022 census, there were 1,511,460 people residing in the state. The population density was 5.45/km2 (14.1/sq mi).[1]

Urbanization: 71.5% (2004); Population growth: 2.6% (1991–2000); Houses: 355,502 (2005).[12]

The 2022 census revealed the following numbers: 939,260 Pardos (brown, multiracial) people (62.1%), 350,613 White people (23.2%), 199,394 Black people (13.2%), 18,735 Amerindian people (1.2%), 3,405 Asian people (0.2%).[13]

Largest cities[edit]

Largest cities or towns in Tocantins
Rank Mesoregion Municipal pop. Rank Mesoregion Municipal pop.
1 Palmas Oriental 235,315 11 Dianópolis Oriental 19,110
2 Araguaína Ocidental 153,350 12 Formoso do Araguaia Ocidental 18,428
3 Gurupi Ocidental 77,655 13 Augustinópolis Ocidental 15,965
4 Porto Nacional Oriental 49,143 14 Taguatinga Oriental 15,053
5 Paraíso do Tocantins Ocidental 44,432 15 Miranorte Ocidental 12,626
6 Araguatins Ocidental 31,324 16 Goiatins Oriental 12,064
7 Colinas do Tocantins Ocidental 30,879 17 Pedro Afonso Oriental 11,542
8 Guaraí Ocidental 23,212 18 Xambioá Ocidental 11,484
9 Tocantinópolis Ocidental 22,608 19 Wanderlândia Ocidental 10,978
10 Miracema do Tocantins Ocidental 20,692 20 Nova Olinda Ocidental 10,686


Irrigated rice in Formoso do Araguaia
Cattle in Tocantins

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). Tocantins' economy is based on an aggressive expansionist model of agro-exports and is marked by consecutive records of primary hyper-surpluses: its exports reveal its strong agricultural inclination. Following the example of neighboring states (Mato Grosso and Goiás), it is becoming a major grain producer (soy, corn, rice).

As with much of Brazil, Tocantins' economy is also dependent on cattle ranching. The state's pineapple plantations is considerable. In the state's north, charcoal and oils are extracted from the babaçu palm tree.

The Gross Value of the state's agricultural production was estimated at more than R$ 7.6 billion in 2019.[15]

In soy, Tocantins is the largest producer in the northern region of Brazil. In the 2019 harvest, Tocantins harvested 3 million tons. [16][17][18]

In maize, the state harvested close to 1 million tonnes in 2019. [19]

In 2019 Tocantins was the leader in rice production in the North region, becoming the 3rd largest producer in Brazil.[20] Harvested more than 670 thousand tons in the 2016/2017 harvest.

Regarding pineapple, in 2018 Tocantins was the 6th largest producer state in Brazil, with 69 million fruits.[21]

In 2019 the state's cattle herd was 8 million animals. [22]

About industry, Tocantins had an industrial GDP of R$ 4.5 billion in 2017, equivalent to 0.4% of the national industry. It employs 30,234 workers in the industry. The main industrial sectors are: Construction (34.1%), Industrial Services of Public Utility, such as Electricity and Water (28.4%), Food (22.5%), Non-metallic minerals (5.2%) and Chemicals (1.5%). These 5 sectors concentrate 91.7% of the state's industry. [23]

Its industry is mainly agroindustry, centralized in six districts located in five pole cities: Palmas, Araguaína, Gurupi, Porto Nacional and Paraíso do Tocantins. Its industry is still small and focused mainly on domestic consumption.[24]

In the tertiary sector (commerce and services), its main activities are concentrated in the capital Palmas and also in the cities that are located on the side of the Belém-Brasília Highway (BR-153 and BR-226). This highway is vital for Tocantins, as it cuts the state from north to south and allows for a better performance in the economic growth of the cities located on its banks, serving as a warehouse for road transport and services for travelers. In addition, the Belém-Brasília Highway also facilitates the flow of production from Tocantins to other states and to ports on the coast.[25][26]


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

The main federal highways in Tocantins are BR-153 and BR-226, which together form the road axis of the Belém-Brasília Highway. The others are BR-010, BR-235 and BR-242. These last highways still have many sections that are unpaved or even incomplete. In Tocantins, the Belém-Brasília Highway (BR-153 and BR-226) was the first highway to be built and paved in the state, having been built during the late 1950s.[27][28][29][30]

Tocantins has three airports served by regular flights: Palmas Airport, Araguaína Airport and Gurupi Airport. All other airports in the state are served only by air taxi companies.[31][32][33]

The North–South Railway (or EF-151) is in the construction process, being operated regularly from Aguiarnópolis to Porto Nacional by VLI while the West–East Integration Railway (or EF-334) is still in the planning phase on the stretch that will pass through the state. It is worth mentioning that the railway already connects Açailândia to Anápolis, but the section south of Porto Nacional is not operated regularly as there are no yards for loading/unloading wagons. Valec is still studying the concession model for the railway.[34][35]

The state's main waterways are the Tocantins River and Araguaia River waterways.[36]


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.[citation needed]

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


Tocantins contains 139 municipalities. For statistical purposes, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) divides the state into two mesoregions containing eight micro-regions. These statistical divisions were revised in 2017.

Important cities include:

Represented in popular culture[edit]

Survivor: Tocantins was the setting for the eighteenth season of the United States reality show Survivor, filmed in the microregion of Jalapão in Tocantins. The premiere aired February 12, 2009.[citation needed]


  1. ^ The presented pronunciation is in the Brazilian Portuguese variant spoken in Tocantins (and most of Brazil).


  1. ^ a b c d "Tocantins" (in Portuguese). Brasília, Brazil: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatstica. 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-14.
  2. ^ "PIB por Unidade da Federação, 2021". ibge.gov.br.
  3. ^ "Atlas do Desenvolvimento Humano no Brasil. Pnud Brasil, Ipea e FJP, 2022". www.atlasbrasil.org.br. Retrieved 2023-06-11.
  4. ^ a b c "Tocantins" (in Portuguese). Palmas, Tocantins, Brazil: Governo do Tocantins. 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-11-01. Retrieved 2015-07-28.
  5. ^ a b "Bananal Island". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-28.
  6. ^ Amorim, F. W. (2020). Are the New World hummingbird‐hawkmoths functional equivalents of hummingbirds? Ecology, 101(12). doi:10.1002/ecy.3161
  7. ^ "Araguaia & Tocantins Rivers". International Rivers. Retrieved 2022-06-03.
  8. ^ a b c "Tocantins". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-28.
  9. ^ "Tocantins". Encyclopedia Britannica. July 20, 1998. Retrieved March 1, 2024.
  10. ^ a b "Goias/ State Brazil", Encyclopædia Britannica, 2015
  11. ^ "História" (in Portuguese). Palmas, Tocantins, Brazil: Governo do Tocantins. 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-04-17. Retrieved 2015-07-28.
  12. ^ Síntese de Indicadores Sociais 2007 (PDF) (in Portuguese). Tocantins, Brazil: IBGE. 2007. ISBN 978-85-240-3919-5. Retrieved 2007-07-18.
  13. ^ "Censo 2022 - Panorama".
  14. ^ "Estimativas da população residente nos municípios brasileiros com data de referência em 1º de julho de 2011" [Estimates of the Resident Population of Brazilian Municipalities as of July 1, 2011] (PDF) (in Portuguese). Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. 30 August 2011. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  15. ^ "Produção sustentável e tecnificação impulsionam o desenvolvimento do setor agropecuário tocantinense".
  16. ^ "Rondônia deve produzir 1,2 milhão de toneladas de soja na safra 2019/2020". 13 January 2020.
  17. ^ "Soja é ouro no estado do Tocantins". 10 July 2019.
  18. ^ "Especialistas e produtores debatem sobre a expansão da soja no Pará".
  19. ^ "Produção sustentável e tecnificação impulsionam o desenvolvimento do setor agropecuário tocantinense".
  20. ^ "Produção sustentável e tecnificação impulsionam o desenvolvimento do setor agropecuário tocantinense".
  21. ^ "Produção brasileira de abacaxi em 2018, Embrapa" (PDF).
  22. ^ "Produção sustentável e tecnificação impulsionam o desenvolvimento do setor agropecuário tocantinense".
  23. ^ "Industry Profile of Tocantins".
  24. ^ Distritos Industriais do Tocantins>
  25. ^ Construção da Belém Brasília
  26. ^ BR-153: rodovia transformou a vida de moradores do norte do Tocantins
  27. ^ Mapa Rodoviário do Tocantins
  28. ^ Construção da Belém Brasília
  29. ^ BR-153: rodovia transformou a vida de moradores do norte do Tocantins
  30. ^ Construção da BR 235
  31. ^ Aeroporto de Palmas
  32. ^ Aeroporto de Gurupi
  33. ^ Aeroporto de Araguaína
  34. ^ Ferrovia Norte Sul Tocantins
  35. ^ Ferrovia de Inrtegração Oeste Leste Tocantins
  36. ^ Hidrovia do Tocantins Araguaia

External links[edit]