Tocantins is one of the states of Brazil. (From: Tukã´, Toucan + tï, beak. lit. "Toucan's beak" in Tupi). It is the newest Brazilian state, formed in 1988 and encompassing what had formerly been the northern part of Goiás. Construction of its capital, Palmas, began in 1989; most of the other cities in the state date to the Portuguese colonial period. Tocantins has been developing slowly since then, building on its hydropower resources: the Araguaia and Tocantins Rivers, which drain the largest watershed that lies entirely inside Brazilian territory. Because it is in the central zone of the country, Tocantins not only has characteristics of the Amazon, but also has open pastures. The Ilha do Bananal, in the southwest of the State, is the largest fluvial island in the world. Tocantins is also home to the Araguaia National Park, the Carajás Indian reservations, and Jalapão state park, which is about from Palmas. There, the rivers create oases in the dry landscape, attracting many ecotourists to the region.
Jesuit missionaries explored what is today Tocantins state about 1625, seeking to convert the Amerindian peoples of the area to Christianity. The area is named after the Tocantins River, which in turn is an indigenous name.
Before 1988 the area was part of the Goiás state, in the north of the state. However, ever since the 17th century, the north has been isolated and difficult to access. As a result, the southern area of the state became more developed, and there had been a strong separatist movement in the north for many years.
The first large scale stirrings of separatism were in 1809, when heavy taxes were levied on mining. This led to a minor revolt which was quickly crushed by the army. A string of failed uprisings occurred in the 19th century.
In the 1970s, pressure was put on the federal government by the population of northern Goiás for a separate state, and in the 1988 Constitution, Tocantins state was officially created.
Since its establishment, Tocantins has been the fastest-growing Brazilian state, with a thriving economy based on agriculture and agro-industry which attracts immigrants from all over the country. The construction of the long-planned North-South Railway (Brazil) will probably boost the economic growth even more. Tocantins is also considered one of the best-managed Brazilian states.