States of Brazil

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I added the 2010 census figures from source [17]. (The total of the state populations is about 22,000 more than the total for Brazil.) The same source gave area figures that are slightly different from the ones I had reported previously.

On 2011-12-11, a plebiscite was held in the state of Pará to decide on the creation of two new states, Carajás and Tapajós state, each to be split from Pará. Both measures failed by a margin of two to one. Sorin Cosoveanu tipped me off to this news.

As of 2008-06-24, Brazil has changed from four time zones to three.

Errata: Under the Change history for 1943-09-13, Guaporé was formed from parts of Amazonas and Mato Grosso, not Amazonas and Minas Gerais as stated in the book. Espírito Santo is in the Sudeste region of Brazil, not Nordeste as stated in the book.

Country overview: 

Short nameBRAZIL
ISO codeBR
LanguagePortuguese (pt)
Time zoneZones


Brazil has been an independent country for the whole 20th century. Its primary subdivisions have been estados (states), territórios (territories), and a distrito federal (federal district). The generic name for all types of primary subdivision is unidades da federação (units of the federation).

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Brasilien
  2. Dutch: Brazilië, Federatieve Republiek Brazilië (formal)
  3. English: Federative Republic of Brazil (formal)
  4. Finnish: Brasilia
  5. French: Brésil m; République f fédérative du Brésil (formal)
  6. German: Brasilien n
  7. Icelandic: Brasilía
  8. Italian: Brasile m
  9. Norwegian: Forbundsrepublikken Brasil (formal) (Bokmål), Sambandsrepublikken Brasil (formal) (Nynorsk), Brasil
  10. Portuguese: Brasil, República f Federativa do Brasil m (formal), Estados mp Unidos do Brasil (obsolete)
  11. Russian: Федеративная Республика Бразилия (formal)
  12. Spanish: Brasil, República f Federativa de Brasil m (formal)
  13. Swedish: Brasilien
  14. Turkish: Brezilya Federal Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

Brazil wood (Portuguese: pau-brasil) was a major export in early colonial times.

Primary subdivisions: 

Brazil is divided into 26 estados (states) and one distrito federal (federal district).

AcreBR.ACBR01-4733,559164,12363,368Rio BrancoNacreano699-699
Distrito FederalBR.DFBR07-3 ~2,570,1605,7802,232BrasíliaCObrasiliense700-739
Espírito SantoBR.ESBR08-3 ~3,514,95246,09617,798VitóriaSDcapixaba290-299
GoiásBR.GOBR29-3 ~6,003,788340,112131,318GoiâniaCOgoiano740-766
MaranhãoBR.MABR13-36,574,789331,937128,162São LuísNEmaranhense650-659
Mato GrossoBR.MTBR14-4 ~3,035,122903,366348,792CuiabáCOmatogrossense780-788
Mato Grosso do SulBR.MSBR11-4 ~2,449,024357,146137,895Campo GrandeCOmato-grossulense790-799
Minas GeraisBR.MGBR15-3 ~19,597,330586,522226,457Belo HorizonteSDmineiro300-399
ParaíbaBR.PBBR17-33,766,52856,47021,803João PessoaNEparaibano580-589
ParanáBR.PRBR18-3 ~10,444,526199,30876,953CuritibaSparanaense800-877
Rio de JaneiroBR.RJBR21-3 ~15,989,92943,78016,904Rio de JaneiroSDfluminense200-289
Rio Grande do NorteBR.RNBR22-33,168,02752,81120,390NatalNEpotiguar590-599
Rio Grande do SulBR.RSBR23-3 ~10,693,929281,730108,777Porto AlegreSgaúcho900-999
RondôniaBR.ROBR24-41,562,409237,59191,734Porto VelhoNrondoniano789-789
RoraimaBR.RRBR25-4450,479224,30186,603Boa VistaNroraimense690-698
Santa CatarinaBR.SCBR26-3 ~6,248,43695,73636,964FlorianópolisScatarinense880-899
São PauloBR.SPBR27-3 ~41,262,199248,22395,839São PauloSDpaulista000-199
27 divisions190,732,6948,515,7673,287,956
  • State: except for Distrito Federal, which is a federal district.
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes. If periods are replaced by hyphens, these are the same as
    the state codes from ISO standard 3166-2. The two-letter state codes, or siglas, are defined by the Brazilian
    government, and are widely used and recognized in Brazil.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Tz: Time zones. Convert from UTC to local time by adding this number of hours. Tilde (~) indicates areas where
    daylight saving time is in effect during summer. Some islands belonging to Pernambuco are in UTC-2.
  • Population: 2010-08-01 census.
  • Reg: For code, see table of regions below.
  • Demonym: The term for a (male) person from the state.
  • CEP: Brazilian códigos de endereçamento postal (postal addressing codes) are five digits, with an optional
    three-digit extension. With a few exceptions, postal codes for each state have their first three digits falling into a
    defined range. The exceptions are cases where a city is served from a distribution center in a neighboring state.
    Also, Amazonas and Roraima share a block of codes.

Further subdivisions:

See the Microregions of Brazil page.

The states are subdivided into municípios (municipalities). There were 4,493 municípios in 1992; 3,950 in 1976. The municípios are subdivided into distritos (districts). The federal district is subdivided into 13 administrative regions.

Regions (região, pl. regiões, sometimes grande região) seem to have no administrative function but are often used for statistical analysis. I have created the abbreviations used here for convenience. This regional division dates from 1971; a different division was in effect from 1941 to 1970.



For purposes of convenience, the federal government has defined mesorregiões (intermediate regions) and microrregiões (microregions), with no administrative function. The grande regiões, the unidades da federação, the mesorregiões, the microrregiões, and the municipios form a hierarchy, as described on the HASC page.

Territorial extent: 

Several areas are or were in dispute between neighboring states:

  1. Amazonas/Pará: some islands in the Amazon, including the town of Nhamunda, totaling 2,680 Now part of Amazonas.
  2. Ceará/Piauí: three sections, including the town of Macambira (or Mocambira), totaling 3,382
  3. Espírito Santo/Minas Gerais: Serra dos Aimorés, briefly treated as a separate region in the 1950s. Largest towns: Mantena and Barra de São Francisco. Area 10,137 sq. km. Later divided, with about 5,719 sq. km. going to Espírito Santo.
  1. Brazil uses the phrase "ilhas oceânicas" (oceanic islands) to refer to any islands off the coast of Brazil. There are many oceanic islands that are no more than about 10 km. from the mainland, and clearly belong to the coastal state adjacent. The five groups that are over 100 km. offshore are all mentioned in the next few items.
  2. Distrito Federal and Minas Gerais have a short border along the Rio Preto, which is hard to see on a small-scale map.
  3. Espírito Santo includes the oceanic islands of Martin Vaz and Trindade.
  4. Pará contains Ilha de Marajó in the Amazon delta. It is said to be the largest island in the world partly surrounded by fresh water.
  5. Pernambuco includes the former territory of Fernando de Noronha, consisting of the oceanic islands of Fernando de Noronha and Penedos de São Pedro e São Paulo.
  6. Rio Grande do Norte includes the oceanic islands of Atol das Rocas.
  7. Tocantins contains Ilha do Bananal, a lozenge of land lying between two branches of the Araguaia River. It is said to be the largest river island in the world.

The UN LOCODE page  for Brazil lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Acre: from Acre River (formerly Aquiri River)
  2. Alagoas: from large number of lakes (Portuguese as lagoas: the lakes)
  3. Amazonas: from Amazon River. Amazon comes from the Greek for "without breast." Greek legend said that the Amazons were a race of female warriors in Scythia who cut off their right breasts to be able to draw their bows unencumbered. When early explorer Francisco de Orellana encountered beardless warriors, he named the river after the legendary women.
  4. Bahia: formed around All Saints' Bay (Portugese Baía de Todos os Santos; Bahia is another spelling of Baía). The bay was discovered by Amerigo Vespucci on All Saints' Day, 1501-11-01.
  5. Ceará: Guaraní ceara: shouts
  6. Distrito Federal: = Federal District
  7. Espírito Santo: = Holy Spirit
  8. Fernando de Noronha: named for Portuguese navigator Fernando de Noronha, who discovered the island on 1502-08-29, Saint John's Day, and named it Ilha de São Johão
  9. Goiás: from an ethnic name
  10. Maranhão: Guaraní para: river, na: parent, jho: come out
  11. Mato Grosso: = Large Brushland
  12. Mato Grosso do Sul: = Southern Mato Grosso
  13. Minas Gerais: from government-owned gold mines in the area (Portuguese Minas Gerais: General Mines)
  14. Pará: Guaraní para: variegated
  15. Paraíba: from Paraíba River (Tupí para hiba: arm of the river, or Guaraní para ai: bad river)
  16. Paraná: from Paraná River (Guaraní parana: father of waters)
  17. Pernambuco: Guaraní parana: great river, mbuku: arm
  18. Rio de Janeiro: = River of January. When Gaspar de Lemos and Amerigo Vespucci discovered the mouth of Guanabara Bay on 1502-01-01, they named it Rio de Janeiro in the mistaken belief that it was a large river.
  19. Rio Grande do Norte: = Big River of the North
  20. Rio Grande do Sul: = Big River of the South
  21. Rondônia: named for Marshal Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon, soldier and explorer
  22. Roraima: from Mount Roraima
  23. Santa Catarina: reportedly named by Sebastian Cabot after Saint Catherine of Alexandria
  24. São Paulo: = Saint Paul. Founded by Jesuits on 1554-01-25, festival day of Saint Paul's conversion.
  25. Sergipe: from Serigy, a native chief
  26. Tocantins: from Tocantins River, which came from an ethnic name

Change history: 

  1. I've extended the change history back to the beginning of colonization. Some details may still be missing, especially before 1800.
  2. An expression like "(São Pedro do) Rio Grande do Sul" means that the entity's official name is São Pedro do Rio Grande do Sul, but its common or present-day name is simply Rio Grande do Sul.
  3. 1534: First capitanias hereditárias (hereditary captaincies) created. These were land grants made by Dom João III, king of Portugal.
  4. 1549: By this date, the captaincies were Bahía de Todos os Santos, Ceará, Espíritu Santo, Ilhéus, Itamaracá, Maranhão (two by this name), Pernambuco, Pôrto Seguro, Rio Grande, Santana, São Amaro, São Tomé, and São Vicente (two by this name). In 1549, the king bought back Bahía captaincy and made it a governo geral (general-governorship).
  5. 1572: Brazil divided into two general-governorships, with capitals at Salvador and Rio de Janeiro. They were reunited in 1577, Salvador remaining the capital.
  6. 1621: Maranhão state created by decree of Filipe III of Portugal. The rest of Brazil remained organized into captaincies.
  7. 1709-04-17: Name of São Vicente captaincy changed to São Paulo e Minas de Ouro.
  8. 1720-09-12: São Paulo e Minas de Ouro captaincy split into Minas Gerais and São Paulo.
  9. 1737: Pará captaincy created.
  10. 1739-03-07: Santa Catarina captaincy split from São Paulo.
  11. 1748-05-09: Goiáz and Mato Grosso captaincies split from São Paulo.
  12. 1751: Maranhão state enlarged to form Grão-Pará e Maranhão state, with capital at Belém.
  13. 1763: Capital of Brazil moved from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro; Sergipe captaincy merged with Baía.
  14. 1772: Maranhão and Piauí became independent captaincies of Pará.
  15. 1799: Ceará captaincy split from Pernambuco.
  16. 1807-02-25: (São Pedro do) Rio Grande do Sul captaincy created.
  17. 1810: Espírito Santo split from Baía; name of capital of Rio Grande do Sul changed from Porto dos Casais to Porto Alegre.
  18. 1811: Piauí captaincy created.
  19. 1817-09-16: Alagoas captaincy split from Pernambuco.
  20. 1820: Sergipe captaincy created.
  21. 1821-02-28: Status of captaincies changed to províncias (provinces). The provinces at this time were Alagoas, Baía, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Goiáz, Grão-Pará, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Minas Gerais, Paraíba do Norte, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Santa Catarina, Sergipe, São Paulo, and São Pedro do Rio Grande do Sul.
  22. 1821: Banda Oriental (present-day Uruguay) annexed to Brazil under the name of Província Cisplatina (Cisplatine province).
  23. 1822-09-07: Brazil became independent from Portugal.
  24. 1827: Capital of Pernambuco province moved from Olinda to Recife.
  25. 1828-08-27: Cisplatina gained independence from Brazil under Argentine-Brazilian peace treaty, becoming the country of Uruguay.
  26. 1834: Município Neutro (neutral municipality) split from Rio de Janeiro province, to serve as a capital district. Niterói became the new capital of Rio de Janeiro province.
  27. 1835: Capital of Mato Grosso province moved from Vila Bela to Cuiabá.
  28. 1839-12-09: Capital of Alagoas province moved from Alagoas to Maceió.
  29. 1850-09-05: Grão-Pará split into Amazonas and Pará provinces.
  30. 1851: Capital of Piauí moved from Oeiras to Teresina, named for Empress Maria Teresa Cristina.
  31. 1853: Paraná province split from São Paulo.
  32. 1855-03-17: Capital of Sergipe moved from São Cristóvão to (Santo Antônio de) Aracaju.
  33. 1867-03-27: Acre granted to Bolivia in the Treaty of Ayacucho.
  34. 1889-11-15: Brazil declared a republic. Status of provinces changed to states. Name of Município Neutro changed to Distrito Federal. Official name of country became Estados Unidos do Brasil.
  35. 1895: Name of capital of Santa Catarina changed from (Nossa Senhora do) Desterro to Florianópolis in memory of Marshal Floriano Peixoto.
  36. 1897-10-12: Capital of Minas Gerais moved from Ouro Preto to Cidade de Minas.
  37. 1900-03-23: Acre reconquered by Bolivia after proclaiming its independence on 1899-07-14.
  38. 1900-12-01: Geneva Commission awarded present-day Amapá to Brazil in a boundary dispute with France.
  39. 1901: Name of capital of Minas Gerais changed from Cidade de Minas to Belo Horizonte.
  40. 1903-11-17: Acre purchased from Bolivia for two million pounds in the Treaty of Petrópolis, organized as a territory; border demarcated 1909-09-08.
  41. 1904: A district named Pirara was taken from Amazonas (in the area that is now Roraima) and annexed to British Guiana through arbitration.
  42. 1904: Ecuador ceded land between the Japurá and Amazon Rivers, as far west as the modern border between Brazil and Colombia, to Brazil.
  43. 1907: Colombia ceded a large, remote area around the Uaupés River to Brazil, where it became part of Amazonas.
  44. 1912: Name of capital of Acre territory changed from (Volta de) Empresa to Rio Branco.
  45. 1930-09-04: Name of capital of Paraíba changed from Paraíba to João Pessoa in memory of an assassinated president-elect.
  46. 1937: Capital of Goiáz moved from Goiáz to the newly built city of Goiânia.
  47. 1942-09-02: Fernando de Noronha territory, consisting of Fernando de Noronha and several smaller oceanic islands, split from Pernambuco. Officially, the capital was the whole island of Fernando de Noronha. There is only one city on the island: Vila dos Remedios.
  48. 1943-09-13: Amapá territory split from Pará; Iguaçu territory formed from parts of Paraná and Santa Catarina; Ponta Porã territory split from Mato Grosso; Guaporé territory formed from parts of Amazonas and Mato Grosso; Rio Branco territory split from Amazonas.
  49. 1943-09-13?: Name of Baía state changed to Bahia; name of Goiáz state changed to Goiás.
  50. 1944-05-31: Macapá became capital of Amapá.
  51. 1946-09-18: Iguaçu territory restored to Paraná and Santa Catarina; Ponta Porã territory restored to Mato Grosso.
  52. 1956-02-17: Name of Guaporé territory (former sigla GR) changed to Rondônia.
  53. 1960-04-21: Capital of Brazil changed from Rio de Janeiro to Brasília; (new) Distrito Federal split from Goiás as federal district; name and status of (old) Distrito Federal (former sigla DF) changed to Guanabara state.
  54. 1962-06-15: Status of Acre changed from territory to state.
  55. 1962-12-13: Name of Rio Branco territory (former sigla RB) changed to Roraima.
  56. 1969-10-19: New constitution adopted. Official name of country became República Federativa do Brasil.
  57. 1975-03-15: Guanabara state (former sigla GB) merged with Rio de Janeiro; capital of Rio de Janeiro changed from Niterói to Rio de Janeiro.
  58. 1979-01-01: Mato Grosso do Sul split from Mato Grosso as state (FIPS: BR12changed toBR11+BR14 (conjectural)).
  59. 1981-12-22: Rondônia changed from territory to state.
  60. 1989-01-01: Fernando de Noronha (former sigla FN) merged with Pernambuco (FIPS: BR09+BR19changed toBR30); status of Amapá and Roraima changed from territory to state; Tocantins state split from Goiás, with Miracema do Tocantins as its capital. At the same time, Tocantins was transferred from Centro-Oeste region to Norte. (FIPS: BR10changed toBR29+BR31).
  61. 1990-01: Capital of Tocantins moved from Miracema do Tocantins to Palmas.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Amazonas: Amazone (French)
  2. Bahia: Baía (obsolete)
  3. Goiás: Goiáz, Goyáz (obsolete)
  4. Maranhão: São Luíz de Maranhão (obsolete)
  5. Mato Grosso: Matto Grosso (variant)
  6. Minas Gerais: Minas (informal); Minas Geraes (obsolete)
  7. Paraíba: Parahyba (obsolete)
  8. Pernambuco: Pernambouc (French)
  9. Piauí: Piauhy (obsolete)
  10. Rondônia: Guaporé (obsolete); Rondónia (European Portuguese)
  11. Roraima: Rio Branco (obsolete)
  12. Santa Catarina: Santa Catharina (obsolete)

Population history:

Acre 92,37979,768114,755160,208215,299301,303417,100557,526733,559
Amapá   37,47768,889114,359175,257289,041477,032669,526
Distrito Federal    141,742537,4921,176,9351,601,0952,051,1462,570,160
Espírito Santo209,783457,328790,149957,2381,418,3481,599,3332,023,3402,600,6243,097,2323,514,952
Fernando de Noronha   5811,3891,2411,279   
Mato Grosso118,025246,612432,265522,044910,2621,597,0901,138,6912,026,0782,504,3533,035,122
Mato Grosso do Sul      1,369,5671,780,3702,078,0012,449,024
Minas Gerais3,594,4715,888,1746,763,3687,782,1889,960,04011,487,41513,378,55315,743,56117,891,49419,597,330
Rio de Janeiro926,0351,559,3711,847,8572,297,1943,402,7284,742,88411,291,52012,807,22014,391,28215,989,929
Rio Grande do Norte274,317537,135768,018967,9211,157,2581,550,2441,898,1722,415,0922,776,7823,168,027
Rio Grande do Sul1,149,0702,182,7133,320,6894,164,8215,448,8236,664,8917,773,8379,138,45310,187,79810,693,929
Rondônia   36,93570,783111,064491,0691,133,2681,379,7871,562,409
Roraima   18,11629,48940,88579,159217,584324,397450,479
Santa Catarina320,289668,7431,178,3401,560,5022,146,9092,901,7343,627,9334,542,0445,356,3606,248,436
São Paulo2,282,2794,592,1887,180,3169,134,42312,974,69917,771,94825,040,71231,588,80137,032,40341,262,199
Tocantins       918,3871,157,0981,383,445


  1. [1] Sinopse Estatística do Brasil (English Edition) 1975, Fundação Instituto Brasileiro de Geografía e Estatística, Diretoria de Divulgação, Rio de Janeiro, 1975. P. 36 has a table of census results for 1872, 1890, 1900, 1920, 1940, 1950, 1960, and 1970. Footnotes indicate that 1960 data are "preliminary results and relating to the enumerated population"; 1970 data are "resident population". All data agree perfectly with the table above.
  2. [2] The IBGE  website is the source for the 2000 census data, retrieved 2002-10-28.
  3. [3] Almanaque Abril 1979, Editora Abril, São Paulo, 1978. P. 301 has a table of census results that exactly duplicates the one in source [1]. This book, as well as [4], has change history information.
  4. [4] Almanaque Abril '85, Editora Abril, São Paulo, 1985. Lists 1980 populations, in agreement with the table above except for Acre, Fernando de Noronha, and Paraná. Discrepancies are small except in the case of Paraná, which is said to have only 692 inhabitants.
  5. [5] The Statesman's Year-Book 1913. Lists 1890 and 1900 census data. 1900 data are in agreement with the table above except for Alagoas, Guanabara, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Paraíba, and Paraná. Most of the discrepancies are very small.
  6. [6] The Statesman's Year-Book 1959, Macmillan & Co., London, 1959. Lists 1940 and 1950 census data. All figures agree with the table above except for Espírito Santo and Minas Gerais. This is probably due to Serra dos Aimorés (see Territorial extent, above), an area disputed between the two states. Cf. source [14].
  7. [7] The Statesman's Yearbook 1988-1989, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1988. Lists 1980 populations, in agreement with the table above.
  8. [8] The Statesman's Yearbook 1993-94, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1993. Lists data for 1980 census and preliminary data for the 1991 census. 1980 data are in agreement with the table above, except that Tocantins is separated from Goiás and Fernando de Noronha is combined with Pernambuco. 1991 data are a little off: sometimes too high, sometimes too low.
  9. [9] The Statesman's Yearbook 1997-98, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1997. Lists data for 1980 and 1991 censuses. 1980 data are the same as in the 1993-94 edition; 1991 data are revised, and closer to the figures shown above, but still not exact.
  10. [10] The Statesman's Yearbook 2006, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2005. Lists data for 1996 and 2000 censuses. 2000 data agree perfectly with the table above.
  11. [11] História do Brasil para Estudos Sociais, Vol. 2, Julierme de Abreu e Castro. Instituto Brasileiro de Edições Pedagógicas, São Paulo, N.D. but 1973 or 1974 based on internal evidence. Lists 1872, 1920, and 1970 census data. 1920 data agree perfectly with the table above; 1970 data are too high, usually by 1-2%. This book also contains some change history.
  12. [12] Anuário Estatístico do Brasil, 1992, Fundação Instituto Brasileiro de Geografía e Estatística, Rio de Janeiro, 1993 (reprint). Contains information used in the change history.
  13. [13] Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Springfield MA. Third Edition (1997) has preliminary figures for the 1991 census. They are a little off from the figures given in the table above. 1980 edition has preliminary figures for the 1970 census, also a little off.
  14. [14] Encyclopædia Britannica World Atlas, Chicago. 1951 edition has 1940 census data, which are uniformly higher than those shown in the table above. 1957 edition has exactly the same data by state as source [6]. The total is greater. A footnote explains this: "Total includes 192,032 persons: 31,960 not accounted for in the census of Minas Gerais (10,461), São Paulo (7,588), and Paraná (13,911); and 160,072 in Serra dos Aimorés, the territory in dispute between Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo." 1964 edition has 1960 census data, the same as in the table above except for Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, and Paraná.
  15. [15] Atlante Enciclopedia Geografica Garzanti, Redazioni Garzanti, Milan, 1979. Lists 1970 census data, in agreement with the table above except that Guanabara population is included in Rio de Janeiro.
  16. [16] Divisão Territorial do Brasil, IBGE, 1951. This source refers to the siglas as abreviaturas (abbreviations).
  17. [17] States@ , on the IBGE website, is the source for 2010 population data.
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