The Bay of Ilha Grande encompasses the municipalities of Angra dos Reis and Paraty, south coast of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The region comprises a total area of 1,750,474 km² and houses an approximate population of 1,750,474.
Although most people live in urban centers, small ranches and coastal and insular villages are an important part of local spatial organization. Traditionally occupied by caiçara populations (local people from coastal regions), indigenous and quilombola (descendants of Afro-Brazilian slaves) communities also inhabit the region. Immigrants of Japanese origin and migrants from other regions of the country complete the population chart.
Nature is a strong component of BIG’s landscape. The sea and the forest are habitats of a huge variety of species that, together, form an ecosystem of inestimable value. It is no wonder that there are about ten conservation units protecting this area.
In the past centuries, family farming and artisanal fishing shared space with sugar cane, coffee and, later, banana farms. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the flow of gold and coffee also played an important role in the local economy, especially in the ports of Paraty. In the 20th century, large industrial ventures arrived, especially to Angra dos Reis, due to the port facilities, the naval complex, the oil terminal and the nuclear power plant. In the 1970s, the construction of the Rio Santos highway (BR-101) brought about significant transformations to the entire region, by interconnecting isolated territories and bringing them closer to the two major cities of the country – Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. In those days, tourism and real estate ventures went from strength to strength, transforming the landscape and the set-up of land occupation. This picture was consolidated in the 1990s. Nowadays, tourism, fishing, mariculture and the industry stand out as the main economic activities.
In terms of traditional cultural traits, the Portuguese and Caiçara cultures are the ones to stand out. Cultural manifestations, popular and religious festivals such as Ciranda, Festa do Divino, the maritime procession to São Pedro and São Paulo, and Folia de Reis are traditional in both municipalities. The historical center of Paraty is also the setting for dozens of events, such as the International Literary Fair of Paraty (FLIP), Paraty in Focus, Bourbon Jazz Festival and MIMO.