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Imbituba, Santa Catarina (Brazil)

Last modified: 2021-12-11 by ian macdonald
Keywords: santa catarina | imbituba |
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[Flag of Imbituba
SC (Brazil)] image by Dirk Schönberger, 19 June 2012

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The municipality of Imbituba (45,286 inhabitants in 2020; 18,479 ha) is located 90 km south of Florianópolis. The municipality is composed of the districts of Imbituba (seat), Mirim and Vila Nova.

Imbituba was settled in 1622 by the missionaries Antônio Araújo and Pedro da Mota, who established a sanctuary in Vila Nova aimed at christening the Carijós natives; two years later, they were ordered to withdraw to Santo Antônio dos Anjos da Laguna. In 1675, six families from Laguna built huts on Vila Nova. The area remained hardly inhabited until 1715, when Captain Manoel Gonçalves de Aguiar, commissioned by the Governor of Rio de Janeiro to survey the colonies of southern Brazil, deemed the area promising for fishing. The same year, a settlement emerged, built by colonists from São Vicente; the captain recommended the establishment of a whaling fishery, which was completed in 1796.

Vila Nova was established in 1720 by Portuguese colonists coming from the Azores and Madeira. Mirim developed at the same time. In 1749, King John V allowed the Ultramarine Council to push the emigration of new colonists to coastal areas of southern Brazil.
The whaling fishery of Imbituba was established in 1796, as the fourth in Brazil, by Pedro Quintela and João Ferreira Sola. Tax they had to pay to the crown was soon compensated by the benefits of whaling, since big-sized whales were caught every week. Whale oil was used for street lighting in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, and also as cement for the building of houses and fortresses. Whaling declined in the aftermath of the discovery of American petrol in the 1860s, and of the invention of Portland cement.

The port of Imbituba was built by English engineers in 1871 to export coal. It owes its modern development to the ship-owner Henrique Lage, CEO of the Companhia Nacional de Navegação Costeira and of Organização Henrique Lage, the latter company being renamed to Companhia Docas de Imbituba in 1922. Engineer Álvaro Monteiro de Barros Catão, director of the company, was also director of the Dona Tereza Cristina railway.
Laws favoring the use of coal produced in Brazil boosted the development of the port of Imbituba. In 1942, the Companhia Docas de Imbituba was granted the concession of the port for a duration of 70 years. In the 1970a, the port received daily three trains laden with 3,000 tons of coal, mostly coming from the Capivari washing unit. In 1990, coal still represented 60% of the cargos handled in the port. When coal industry declined, the port diversified and container terminals were built.
Henrique Lage established in 1919 Indústria Cerâmica Imbituba S.A., which originally produced earthenware to be used on the passenger ships operated on the Rio de Janeiro-Imbituba-Porto Alegre line; the production was soon reoriented to tiles; in 1951, the company employed 300 workers, a number that increased to 1,300 (out of 30,000 inhabitants) in the 1990s. Indústria Cerâmica Imbituba was closed in 2009.

The municipality of Imbituba was established by Law No. 1,451 promulgated on 30 August 1923, and inaugurated on 1 January 1924. The municipality was suppressed by Decree No. 1 issued on 6 October 1930 by the Provisory Governor of the south of Santa Catarina. In October 1949, the State Legislative Assembly renamed the town to Henrique Lage. The name of Imbituba was re-established by Law No. 446 promulgated on 6 October 1959.
The municipality of Imbituba was re-established by State Law No. 348 promulgated on 21 June 1958, and inaugurated on 5 August 1958.
Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 3 November 2021

Description of the Flag

A white field, with the municipal arms in the centre.

Official website at
Dirk Schönberger, 19 June 2012

The coat of arms of Imbituba is prescribed by Municipal Law No. 229 promulgated on 8 April 1970 (text not available). It was modified by Municipal Law no. 2,198 promulgated on 14 November 2001, as follows:

Article 1.
Paragraph d) of Article 1 of Municipal Law No. 229 promulgated on 8 April 1970 shall be rephrased as follows:
d) In base, a single quarter representing a port with a cargo ship moored to be laden with products (coal, starch, cassava flour, etc.) exported by the municipality, and a whale placed below the ship, which symbolizes the municipality of Imbituba as the cradle of the southern right whale.
Leis Municipais database

Imbituba is located in the heart of the Environmental Protection Area of southern right whale established by a Federal Decree issued in September 2000. Whales visiting Imbituba from June to November make of the town a main site of whale watching; the town also established the first Whale Museum in South America.


Ivan Sache, 3 November 2021