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  Morro de São Paulo > Geography

Morro de São Paulo Geography

Morro de Sao Paulo is located on the northernmost portion of Tinharé Island. This island, along with Boipeba, Cairú, and 23 other islands compose the Tinharé archipelago. It is nearly sixty kilometers south of Salvador, near Valença.
The islands are separated from each other as well as from the mainland by wide channels with mangrove vegetation, which is why many places are still uninhabited or rarely visited, since navigation is strongly dependant on tides land access is nearly impossible .
The most accessible part of the archipelago is the eastern coast. Here, although the water is deepest, the beaches are protected by reefs and only some specific spots are accessible. The channel at the north of the island is also deep, although with a few sand banks. It is the route taken to Ponta do Curral and Valença, both on the mainland. The remaining channels are shallow and tricky. Only those who know the region very well dare to travel by them depending on the tide.
The archipelago covers nearly 450 square kilometers, with Tinharé Island covering about 54% of this area. Boipeba and Cairú have about the same size, each covering 20% of the total area. The other 23 islands cover the remaining 7%.
The highest points are on Tinharé and are both located on the north (the lighthouse), and on the northeast (Galeão), while the rest of the island is mostly flat and only a few meters above sea-level. On the other hand, Cairú and Boipeba are not as flat, however the elevations do not exceed 80 meters above sea-level.
There are virtually no roads on the islands, mostly tracks that are traveled on foot, horseback or (on favorable conditions) by tractor. Wooden boats are used to transport various goods.
Villages are situated along the shoreline and navigable channels. The following villages are found at Tinharé Island: Morro de Sao Paulo, Gamboa, Galeão, Zimbo, Garapuá and Canavieira. Velha Boipeba, Moreré, Monte Alegre e São Sebastião or Cova da Onça are all villages at Boipeba. Finally, the island of Cairú, aside from having a city of the same name, also shelters Torrinhas. There are 11.410 people living on this set of islands, and though the islands differ in size, the population is distributed rather equally among these three.
The locals are dependant mostly on marine-related activities, particularly fishing, and more recently, on tourism. They are composed by African and European descendants, some Dutch but mostly Portuguese, and some native indians. The residents are generally very quiet and friendly, usually very humble and happy to have visitors.
Most of the islands were covered by Atlantic Forest, although today a large part of this area is occupied by tremendous coconut tree cultivation. In spite of this, there is still a considerable area with original cover. There are also some areas of dry coastal forest (restinga), although the most remarkable ecosystem here is the mangrove, nesting place of a great multitude of marine life and a source of income for most of the local population.
Since 1992 both Tinharé and Boipeba are considered an area of environmental conservation. However, there are still some problems to overcome, such as the storage of garbage, although some goals have been accomplished, like sewage treatment. Some NGO stimulate more lucrative and environmentally correct alternatives to the ones carried out today by local inhabitants. It is clear that the future of this archipelago is a responsibility of everyone: local population, public and business sectors, as well as tourists.

Morro de Sao Paulo location in Brazil
Location in Brazil
Morro de Sao Paulo location in Bahia
Cities and roads in South of Bahia State
Morro de Sao Paulo location in Tinhare island
Beaches and islands of the arquipelago
Map of the village of Morro de Sao Paulo
Streets and historical monuments of the Village


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