Alter do Chão: Santarém (Brazil)

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Alter do Chão: Santarém (Brazil)

Fri, 09/25/2020 - 12:48
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The region of Alter do Chão, located in the Pará state of Brazil, is a renowned tourist destination. Santarém, the main town in the area, boasts some of Brazil's most stunning freshwater beaches. In addition, this town holds significant importance as it is the most prominent Amazonian river town between Belém and Manaus, serving as a port of call for river steamers.

Alter do Chão

Alter do Chão is a district of Santarém in Pará state, Brazil. It is located on the bank of the Tapajós River, a major tributary of the Amazon River and one of the three major clearwater rivers in the Amazon Basin.

Located about 37 km (23 mi) from the city center, Alter do Chão is the main tourist area of Santarém. It is a popular tourist spot for Brazilians, as here are located some of the most beautiful freshwater beaches in Brazil. Hence, it is popularly known as the "Brazilian Caribbean."

This little-known beach destination with stunning white sandy stretches offers a laid-back atmosphere with little more to do than kick back on the beach and enjoy the views. However, the town fills up during weekends. The size of the beaches varies depending on the season. During the rainy season, many beaches disappear altogether.

Alter do Chão's isolation is a large part of its appeal and the primary reason it receives relatively few visitors. A lack of roads in the region means the only way to get there is by riverboat or air.

Until the 18th century, the village was primarily inhabited by indigenous communities of Borari. These indigenous people colonized the banks of the Tapajós and Maró-Arapiuns rivers in the west of Pará. During the 17th and 18th centuries, several religious missions led by the Jesuits of the Franciscan order were established.

In the early 20th century, Alter do Chao became part of one of the transportation routes for latex extracted from rubber trees in the plantation towns of Belterra and Fordlandia.

After a short period of development, in the 1950s, the decay of the Amazonian rubber extraction industry took place, and the village was hit by economic hardship. Therefore, from the 1990s to the present day, the district has focused on tourism to evolve economically.

Alter do Chão is also home to Sairé, one of the important folklore festivals of the region, which is held annually in September.


The city of Santarém is situated on the right bank of the Tapajós River, near its confluence with the Amazon River, in the western part of Pará, Brazil. It is located some 800 km (500 mi) from the two largest cities in the Brazilian Amazon: Manaus, upriver in the state of Amazonas and Belém, located downriver at the mouth of the Amazon on the Atlantic Ocean.

Santarém has an estimated population of 299,419 people (2012 Census) and is the third most populous city in the state. Because of the crystalline waters of the Tapajós River, Santarém has more than 100 km (62 mi) of natural beaches, such as those of the village of Alter do Chão.

A few miles south of the city, the escarpment of the Santarém plateau rises to an elevation of 120 m (400 ft). The plateau, crossed by a road to Belterra, is one of the most productive areas of agricultural colonization in the Amazon Valley. The raising of livestock is also significant.

Originally founded as a Jesuit mission to a Tapajó Indian settlement (aldeia) in 1661, the town grew around a fort built by Pedro Teixeira. It was given town status in 1758, with the name of Tapajós, and was elevated to city rank in 1848.

Today, Santarém is the most important town on the Amazon between Belém and Manaus and is a port of call for river steamers. A modest trade comes from the settlements along the riverbanks. However, the region's most important exports are Rosewood oil, rubber, lumber, and jute.


Santarém's tropical monsoon climate is not subject to significant temperature changes due to its proximity to the equator. Along with high humidity, the average annual temperature varies between 25 - 28 °C (77 - 82°F).

The average annual rainfall is about 1,920 mm (76 in), which becomes more intense during the wet season from November to July. The dry season spans from August through October.