Espírito Santo is one of the states of southeastern Brazil, often referred to by the abbreviation "ES". Its capital is Vitória and the largest city is Vila Velha. The name of the state means literally "holy spirit" after the Holy Ghost of Christianity. With an extensive coastline (40% of the territory is on the coast), the state has some of the country's main ports, but the beaches are the most significant tourist attractions. Vitória, the capital, is on an island, next to Guarapari, well known for its sands. In the extreme north is the Itaúnas part of the municipality of Conceição da Barra, whose sand dunes and forró are famous. Also on the coast, the typical cuisine is another attraction with the moquecas capixabas and many fruits from the ocean and seafood. In the country of the state there are many natural attractions such as the parks of Pedra Azul and Serra do Caparaó, and the Italian and German colonies.
Espírito Santo was first inhabited by Amerindians, whose different tribes were usually semi-nomadic. The area was colonized by the Portuguese, and subsequently descendants of black slaves, and, later, by European immigrants of various origins.
The area had been granted to Vasco Coutinho just after the discovery of Brazil in 1500. He arrived in the district (capitania, in Portuguese) of Espírito Santo on May 23, 1535, bringing 60 soldiers, slaves and servants with him.
The capital of the district was at first Vila Velha, but because of frequent raids by Amerindians, it was moved to the current capital of Vitória, founded on September 8, 1551, on an island near Vila Velha.
The district remained under the influence of Coutinho's family for 140 years. It remained a district for 287 years until 1821, when it became a province.
With the Brazilian declaration of independence in 1822, the District Directors became known as Provincial Presidents. In the same way the district of Espírito Santo became Espírito Santo Province. During this period in 1860 the Emperor Pedro II, who was on good terms with the provincial President, visited the state on one of his tours of Brazil. There are still surviving accounts of what he saw and recorded.
In 1889, with the advent of the Brazilian Republic, Espírito Santo finally became a state.
After the adoption of a republican system, Afonso Cláudio de Freitas Rosa became, by appointment, the first governor of Espírito Santo State. He was followed by four other appointed governors (José Horácio Costa, Constante Gomes Sodré, Henrique da Silva Coutinho and Antônio Gomez Aguirre) until the inauguration of the first elected governor of Espirito Santo, Alfeu Adolfo Monjardim de Andrade e Almeida, on June 7, 1891.
After Getúlio Vargas took power, the governors were elected by the national congress, and after this, a number of interveners were sent to govern the state. A short period of democracy returned when Carlos Monteiro Lindenberg was elected by Capixabas. However, after the 1964 military coup interveners were once again chosen by the national assembly. After Cristiano Dias Lopes, Arthur Carlos Gerhard Santos, Élcio Álvares and Eurico Rezende were chosen this way, open elections were used to choose all leaders from Gerson Camata up to the current governor Renato Casagrande.
During the first 300 years, the main cash crop was sugarcane, until 1850 when coffee, in high demand by Europeans, overtook it. During the colonial era, there were also periods of "gold rush" when agriculture was neglected, leading to food shortages, but not much gold was found in Espírito Santo. Another factor that impeded expansion was the prohibition of roads opening into Minas Gerais, where it was feared smuggling would be encouraged through Espírito Santo.