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• Sao Jose dos Campos

The origins of São José dos Campos lie at the end of the 16th Century when Jesuits founded a cattle farm, Aldeia do Rio Comprido, as cover to avoid raids by the bandeirantes (brave men from São Paulo whose incredible vigour and tenacity in their inland raids in search of gold or to fight Indian tribes greatly contributed to enlarge the Brazilian territory). The Jesuits were then expelled from the land on September 10th 1611 when the law governing indigenous settlements was changed, scattering the remaining villagers.

The Jesuits returned some years later, establishing a settlement on a plateau about nine miles from the original farm. This was the center that gave rise to the city we now know, marked today by the Matriz Church. The climate was pleasant and the position was strategically advantageous for repelling invasions. To all intents and purposes, the mission still looked to outsiders like a cattle farm. This period in the settlement's history saw serious economic privations caused by the outflow of workers attracted by opportunities in the mines.

In 1759 the Jesuits were expelled from Brazil, with the Crown confiscating all the order's assets. At this same time, Dom Luis Antonio de Souza Botelho Mourão, known as Morgado de Mateus, took control of São Paulo. He was charged with dragging it out of the shadows cast by Minas Gerais and its mining wealth. Amongst his first decisions was to change the fiscal status of villages to the category of Vila (town), including São José, in order to increase provincial tax collection. On July 27th 1767, even before it had officially become a parish, the village was declared a town, named São José do Paraíba, with its pillory and Town Council symbolic of its newfound status. Political change brought no great benefits, however, with the town left to languish for years. In the middle of the 19th Century signs of economic growth began to be seen, thanks to cotton exported to the English textile industry.

The founding of the Aerospace Technology Center (CTA) in 1950 and the opening of the Presidente Dutra Highway in 1951, bisecting the urban area of São José dos Campos, boosted industrialization of the city. In the following decades, growth in the industrial economy fuelled a population explosion in São José dos Campos, further adding to its urbanization.

The 1990s saw significant growth in the service industry in São José dos Campos, demonstrated by the fact that the city is today a regional retail and service center for the Paraíba Valley and the South of Minas Gerais, serving a population of approximately two million people.

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