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Roraima

Roraima (rŏrĪˈmə) [key], state (1996 pop. 247,724), 88,843 sq mi (230,103 sq km), NW Brazil, on the border of Venezuela and Guyana. Boa Vista is the capital. Located almost entirely in the Guiana Highlands, the region is drained by the Rio Branco. The climate is equatorial, with wet winters and dry summers. During the rainy season, transportation is almost impossible. The economy is based on the exploitation of tropical-forest products (largely rubber and Brazil nuts) and on minerals (diamonds, gold, bauxite, quartz, and some oil). Vast stretches of Roraima's rain forests have been leveled for industrial development. Cattle breeding is also important. There is little agriculture. Some 12,000 indigenous people live on the reservation of Raposa Serra do Sol.

The region was penetrated in the late 17th cent. by bandeiras seeking to enslave the native tribes. By the mid-18th cent., the Portuguese had fortified some areas to prevent penetration by the Spanish, English, and Dutch. Roraima was created in 1943 (as a federal territory) from land formerly belonging to Amazonas state; until 1962 it was named Rio Branco.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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