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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Port Of Santos, Brazil

The Port of Santos rests on the alluvial plain of Sao Vicente Island in the State of Sao Paulo in Brazil. It is known to be the busiest port in all of South America, and ranked 39th worldwide. Just a few feet above sea level, a tidal channel cuts the island off from the mainland, and concrete channels drain the swampy island to keep the Port of Santos dry. The city lies on both the island and the mainland. The city lies on the shores of a bay deep enough for the biggest ships and has docks totaling six kilometers in length that can serve 50 ships at once.

The Port of Santos was once considered uninhabitable, but drainage canals, paved streets, and proper sanitation have made it a beautiful place. The nearby resort of Guaruja is popular with Brazilians, and Sao Paulo is only 80 kilometers northwest of the Port of Santos. In 2006, over 418 thousand people lived in the city, and almost 1.5 million called the metropolitan area home.

The Companhia Docas do Estado de Sao Paulo is responsible for managing and maintaining the Port of Santos. In 2006, over 76 million tons of cargo passed through the Port of Santos, with over 5600 vessels carrying over 52 million tons of exports and 24 million tons of imports. These shipments included over 1.6 million TEUs of containerized cargo.

The major cargoes were exports of sugar (12.9 million tons) and soya grains (7.2 million tons), with smaller quantities of pellets, alcohol, fuel oil, and orange juice. Coffee exports in 2006 were over 926 thousand tons. Major imports through the Port of Santos included fertilizers (2.3 million tons), wheat (1.4 million tons), and liquefied petroleum gas (520 thousand tons).
The Port of Santos covers more than 7.7 million square meters and contains 9.4 thousand meters of public docks. In 2008, most vessels carried general cargo through the port, while liquid bulk and container vessels also visited the port.

Visitors to the City of Santos (Portuguese) will find many interesting and exciting adventures. The Laje de Santos Marine Park is one of the best scuba diving locations on the coast of Brazil, with depths from 18 to 40 meters that contain reefs, a marine lighthouse, the “cemetery of anchors,” and a sunken fishing boat that is now a nursery for marine life. The Port of Santos’ 19 draining canals are over 100 years old and vary from 50 to 3450 meters long.

The Port of Santos is famous for its beaches. Popular with surfers, the Jose Menino Beach will soon be home to the Pele Museum. Gonzaga Beach is a busy and popular tourist destination with many hotels and the Bandeiras Square. Boqueirao Beach offers all the amenities and hosts an arts and crafts fair on Saturday afternoons. Embare Beach is popular with the young set, and Aparecida Beach is a haven for children where senior citizens have a dance on Saturday afternoons.

The Tip of the Beach at the Port of Santos is a great place to watch the ships moving in and out of the port. On Saturdays, local artists display their work there. You can take the ferry to Guaruja from here or go to Laje de Santos, an ecological reserve, or the Barra Fortress.

The Barra Fortress is an important historic site in the Port of Santos. Located above a 300-meter long beach, sentry towers and the 800-square-meter barracks still stand. Famous for its “Spanish gate” where weapons were stored, the fortress is a favorite spot for tourists.

The Port of Santos holds Brazil’s first public aquarium where as many as half a million people visit each year. It contains more than 800 aquatic animals representing over 200 species of fresh- and salt-water life. The Sea Museum, started with a collection of shells, contains one of the country’s largest collections of mollusks from around the world, including a meter-long Tridacna Gigas from the Philippines that weighs 148 kilos.

The Fishing Museum contains a 23-meter whale skeleton and many marine animals processed in the museum’s taxidermy shop. It contains exhibits that simulate ocean ecosystems and a Boat Room where visitors can experience the feeling of being at the helm of a sailing ship.

Visitors will enjoy taking a schooner ride into the bay, visiting the Barra Fortress, several islands, the port, the Bertioga Canal, and the estuary. A highlight of the schooner ride is a visit to Diana Island, home to a community of 200 local fishermen. On land, the Trolley Car Tourist Line offers tours with guides who share stories of the city’s past in an open 1920s vehicle.

People who love the outdoors will want to visit Cabucu where 10-meter waterfalls form a natural pool. This is also the location where Portuguese missionaries set up a base to convert Indians during the colonial period. The Caete Lookout gives wonderful views of the area for those who are willing to take on the steep 1200-meter trail. The Itatinga Village trails offer many different routes for hikers who want to visit the beach of stones, ruins of the Jesuit missions, and the beautiful island scenery.

The Museum of Brazilian Coffees still contains the hardwood benches where coffee moguls used to trade. Here, you can learn how coffee is prepared and enjoy the best coffee in the world.

The 17th Century Church of the First Order of Carmo contains a dome-topped ancient tower, gold-plated altars, colonial-era hardwood benches for clergy, and paintings by Benedicto Calixto. It also houses a copy of the image of Our Lady of Mount Serrat that was donated by the one-time Spanish colony in honor of Santos’ patron saint.

Monte Serrat is a landmark in the heart of the city topped by the Our Lady of Mount Serrat Sanctuary. Visitors can reach the top by trolley or stairway (415 steps) to get a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city and surrounding islands. The Andradas Pantheon houses the remains of Brazil’s Patriarch of Independence, Jose Bonifacio de Andrada e Silva, as well as his brothers.

The Port of Santos’ Chico Mendes Botanical Garden covers 90 thousand square meters. It supplies seedlings for the beach garden and all the public places in Santos. Housing collections for over 300 plant species, its most popular exhibits include samples from the Amazon and Atlantic forests, hardwoods, brazilwoods, and many palm trees.

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