Cuiaba City Guide

By Thomas Oakey c Alex Robinson/JAI/Corbis
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Vital statistics

MSN gives you the lowdown on the city of Cuiaba, one of the 12 host cities to feature at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil See Gallery

Founded: 1719
State: Mato Grosso
Region: Central-West
Population: 942,861
Size: 3,538 km2

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Established at the height of the gold rush in Brazil, Cuiaba remained a small city in the western centre of Brazil for nearly 250 years. Things soon changed in the 20th century though, when the federal government agreed to the building of long stretches of highway outwards towards the coastal areas of Goias and Sao Paulo. The laying of tarmac instigated an explosion in Cuiaba’s population, shooting up from under 60,000 in 1960 to 400,000 thirty years later.

The city was also promoted to capital of the Mato Grosso state in 1835, while growth was further augmented by the movement of the nation’s capital to fellow inland city Brasilia in 1960.

c Alex Robinson/JAI/Corbis
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Cuiaba today

In recent years the population growth in the city has plateaued, as surrounding towns and cities have caught up. These days, as well as its role as a centre of commerce for surrounding towns, it’s Cuiaba’s position as a major tourist attraction that draws new people to the city.

Attractions like the nearby mountain range of Chapada do Guimares (pictured), home of postcard cliff ranges, archaeological sites and over 3,000 square kilometres of National Park, captivates thousands of travellers each year.

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Cerrado ecosystem

Situated at the exact geographical centre of South America, the city of Cuiaba is in the heartland of one of the most ecologically diverse continents in the world. Indeed, those visiting the city do not have to travel far to take advantage of a trio of Brazil’s most recognisable environments: the savannahs of the Cerrado, the wetlands of the Pantanal and the Amazonian rainforest.

The Cerrado (pictured) is characterized by sprawling savannah formations, forests and stream valleys, and accounts for over 20% of Brazil’s land area, spilling partially into neighbouring Paraguay. 

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The Pantanal wetland - a roaming floodplain sized somewhere between 140,000 and 195,000 square kilometres - is one of the largest of its kind in the world and spreads over the state of Mato Grosso, as well as some of nearby Paraguay and Bolivia.

Travellers to the plains will be treated to a host of wildlife, supported by the wetlands ecosystem, including jaguars, giant anteaters and caiman yacares.

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Amazon Rainforest

Of course, the most famous ecosystem in Brazil, let alone the region, is the Amazonian Rainforest. Encompassing some 5,500,000 to the north of Cuiaba, the rainforest is the most species-heavy in the world, and a definite must-see for all visitors to the region.

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Climate in Cuiba

The Cuiabanos (people of Cuiaba) have the Chapada dos Guimaraes to thank for the reliably tropical wet and dry climate in the region; the mountain range shields the city from the polar masses, bumping the average yearly temperature to around 37.5 °C.

Portal Cup / ME / April 2013
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Football in Cuiaba

Cuiaba homes three prominent football teams: Mixto Esporte Clube, Cuiaba Esporte Clube and Clube Esportivo Dom Bosco. While the rivalry between the three remains strong, there’s little doubt about the dominant force in the city; Mixto, known as the Tiger, hold the record for the number of state titles and enjoyed an 11-year stint in the country’s top flight from 1976.

The Jose Fragelli stadium – better known as the Big Green – has been the city’s main footballing theatre since its construction in 1976. However, the 45,000 capacity stadium is to be replaced with the purpose-built 42,000-seat Arena Pantanal (pictured) for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.