It lies in a valley by the Sapucaí river and has terrain elevations ranging from 827 to 1500 metres, occupying an area of 290.45 km2 (112.14 mi2), with a population of approximately 86,000 people (according to the 2002 official census).
Neighboring the city are the mountain slopes of the Serra da Mantiqueira range. The climate holds well delimited weather seasons, with heavy rain in the summer months and dry climate in the winter, as a typical "altitude tropical system".
The municipality is privileged in its location, not only for being in an urban network of prosperous middle size cities, but also due to its position with regards to the capitals of the southeast: Belo Horizonte (445 km), São Paulo (261 km), and Rio de Janeiro (318 km).
The city is a center with direct influence over 14 other municipalities of a region (called "Microregião do Sapucaí") that polarizes an amount of 48% of the population of the south-end of Minas Gerais or, equivalently, 6% of the population of the entire state.
The local economy is based mainly on industry and agriculture. There are industries of auto parts, fiber optics, textile, electronic components, helicopters (Helibrás), and military weapons (IMBEL). The city is famed by its academic traditions and cultural life.
In agriculture most of the production is coffee, banana, potatoes in the vicinity of Maria da Fé city where the overall climate is colder.
Itajubá is notable for the large quantity of choirs it has.
In the beginning of the 19th century, the region was mostly occupied by native Brazilians, the Puri-Coroados. In January 1819, a priest (Lourenço da Costa Moreira) moved to the parish of Delfim Moreira (known at that time as Soledade de Itajubá). The place was deserted, since it was just a small village in the middle of the woods of the Serra da Mantiqueira, far away from a river.
Father Lourenço told the people in the settlement that its topography was unfavorable to its development. He invited them to move the village to a place closer to the Sapucaí River, down the mountains.
About 80 families accepted the invitation and, on the morning of March 18, 1819 they moved. The next day Father Lourenço celebrated the first catholic mass in the new location. The new Itajubá was founded. After comparisons of topography had been made, part of the population decided to build a new church. Father Lourenço then gathered the people and they moved the old church's pictures and items to the new church.
The name Itajubá means, according to historians Geraldino Campista and J. Armelim Bernardo Guimarães, "water that falls on the rock" or "waterfall". There are several small waterfalls scattered in the vicinities of Itajubá.
The town is also known as the home for the Federal University of Itajubá, funded in 1913, which offers degrees in several technical fields, and also three other regionally important educational institutions: the Centro Universitário de Itajubá - Universitas (Itajubá University Center), the Faculdade de Medicina de Itajubá (Itajubá Faculty of Medicine) and the FACESM - Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Econômicas do Sul de Minas (South Minas Gerais Economic and Social Sciences Faculty).