The capital of the state of Mato Grosso, Cuiabá is located in the exact geographic centre of South America, an equidistant 2,000 kilometres from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Established in 1719 during the Brazilian Gold Rush, its centre still houses several historical buildings, many of which were declared national heritage sites in 1992.
For about 250 years, Cuiabá stood quietly as a small city in the Centre-western region of Brazil. The scenario changed promptly in the 20th century, when the federal government implanted an expansion plan towards the interior of the country, which resulted in roadways connecting Mato Grosso to the states of Goiás and São Paulo.
In 30 years, the population increased dramatically from around 57,000 inhabitants in 1960 to 400,000 in 1990. The vast 3,538-square kilometre area of Cuiabá is currently the home of 544,737 people.
Cuiabá stands on a privileged location for tourists, as it confronts three of Brazil’s most important and characteristic ecosystems: the savannahs of the Cerrado; the wetlands of the Pantanal; and the Amazon. With such a massive presence of nature, it is no wonder, then, that Cuiabá has been nicknamed ‘Green City’.
The cuiabanos also neighbour one of Brazil’s most startling landscapes, the mountain range of Chapada dos Guimarães, where archaeological sites and a 3,300-square kilometre National Park attract thousands of visitors every year.
The Chapada dos Guimarães is one of the reasons why Cuiabá is considered the hottest state capital in Brazil, as the mountain range blocks the polar masses and helps driving temperatures to over 40ºC during the summer.
Church of Our Lady of Bom Despacho, Cuiabá
Mixto Esporte Clube, from Cuiabá, is the most important club within the state of Mato Grosso and holds one of the biggest fan bases in the Centre-western region of Brazil.
The Tigres (Tigers) hold the record for most state titles, and played in the first division of the Campeonato Brasileiro for 11 straight seasons from 1976. However, Mixto have not rejoined the elite since.
Their main city rivals are Cuiabá Esporte Clube and Clube Esportivo Dom Bosco, besides Operário Futebol Clube, from the neighbouring city of Várzea Grande.
The José Fragelli stadium, also known as the Verdão (Big Green), is the temple of football in Mato Grosso. The 45,000-seater ground was built in 1976, and has hosted four of Brazil’s friendlies; the most recent one a 6-1 win over Iceland in March 2002.
A new stadium will be built in preparation for kick-off in 2014, with the local government planning to invest $250 million in the new facility.
State: Mato Grosso
Altitude: 165 m
Climate: The climate Cuiabá is tropical; semi-humid, hot, and notably seasonal, with a dry winter season from May through September or October.
Professional Football Clubs: Mixto Esporte Clube, Cuiabá Esporte Clube and Clube Esportivo Dom Bosco.