Boipeba Island is one of the islands of the Tinharé archipelago, in the county of Cairu, in the south of the state of Bahia. Surrounded by the ocean on one side, and the Inferno River estuary on the other, this island is of rare natural beauty, home to a great variety of ecosystems.
m'boi pewa - is a Tupy Indian word which means flat snake, in reference to a sea turtle, giving the name to the island of Boipeba.
Boipeba is home to a dense Atlantic rainforest, and with its salt marshes, sand dunes, extensive mangroves, and paradisiacal coconut-palmed beaches and reefs, it is a world of ecological diversity.
The reefs are found up and down the coast, sheltering the beaches from waves and ocean currents. The wide reefs are full of canals and shallow pools.
Flora and fauna are rich in varieties of coral, algae, fish, mollusks, sea urchins, starfish, and other sea life. There are sea turtles found in the region, and spawning eggs can be seen on beaches around the island.
The forested areas of the island are home to numerous species of birds, armadillos, fox and reptiles, as well as other animal life.
Boipeba being a natural wildlife habitat, and given the necessity of protecting the Tinharé and Boipeba ecosystems, the state of Bahia created the Area of Environmental Protection (APA in Portuguese) of the islands of Tinharé and Boipeba, in June of 1992.
dos Moradores e Amigos de Boipeba - Amabo
In joining forces together as Amabo, the Association of Residents and Friends of Boipeba, residents of Boipeba put together a proposal of Sustainable Development for the island. With this proposal, Amabo would like to help better the lives of the local population, developing economic activities, especially tourism, without destroying the environment.
Founded by Jesuits in 1537, Boipeba is one of the oldest sites in Bahia colonized by the Portuguese. There are four villages found on the island - Velha Boipeba, São Sebastião, Moreré, and Monte Alegre. The only access is by water - sea or river transport. River boats are used more frequently than boats on the open sea, as the calm waters of the estuary offer more safety for travelers. At the same time, river access can be made more difficult due to shallow waters and sandbanks which need to be expertly navigated.
No cars are permitted on the island - all transport
is on foot or by tractor. This helps to protect
the environment and to promote ecologically minded
tourism. People get from one farm or village to
another by boat or by using the local trails.
Electrical energy is 220 volts, and is brought
to the island by underground cables.
Vídeo about Velha Boipeba
Velha Boipeba, with Santo Antônio Square at its center, is the most important village on the island, with a population of about 1.800. Fishing has traditionally been the primary economic activity, although there has been a great increase in tourism in the last 10 years.
The Church of the Holy Spirit is the historic monument of greatest importance, dating back to the 17th century.
This village is situated on the Atlantic coast, between Ponta dos Castelhanos beach and Velha Boipeba. Today Moreré is the second most visited spot on Boipeba, and there are now a few guest houses, bars and restaurants to be found. There is no pier for boats to dock, so that all arrivals and departures of people and merchandise are done at the beach with the aid of canoes.
The village of São Sebastião is found on the southern point of the island, off of a small bay near Ponta dos Castelhanos. The alternative name for the village is Cova da Onça, literally jaguar's cave. The name comes from stories told by the local population of an existing cave, which was used by the Jesuits as a hideaway when under attack from the native Indian populations.
Economy and Infra-Structure
Fishing is the predominant economic activity of the island. There are about 40 fishing boats run by diesel motors. While these boats are low on navigational equipment, they are high on the courage, ability, and knowledge of local boatmen.
Fish, shrimp, lobster, clams, and a wide variety of crab are all found off Boipeba's coast. Tourism, as an economic activity, is a recent development.
There are about 60 small guest houses operating at the moment. Tropical fruits are the island's main agricultural crop.
Coconut, denude (the red fruit of the dendê palm), as well as mangoes, cashew and mangaba (a small native pear-tasting fruit), are grown.
Celebration of Iemanjá - February, 2th
Maritime procession with boats carrying flowers and gifts to the divinity of the sea.
Celebration of the Holy Spirit - Sunday and Monday, 7 weeks after Easter.
Patronal festivity of Velha Boipeba with procession of boats and canoes.
During the first three decades of Portuguese colonization, the Bahian coast provided a support system for the route to India. At that time the luxury products from Asia - silk, carpets, porcelain and spices - were much more profitable than the products of the new colony. Both the small and larger natural ports were used for supplying water and wood, in addition to providing sites for making small repairs on ships.
The coast of Bahia was inhabited by indigenous Tupi nations: the Tupinambás, the Tupiniquins, and the Aimorés. The islands of Boipeba, Cairu, and Tinharé, were inhabited by the Tupinambás, and the city of Cairu was the largest indigenous metropolis of the region. The name Cairu comes from the Tupi word aracajurru, meaning house of the sun.
The Portuguese colonization of the country began in 1516. The Bahian coast was divided into 3 captainships, and later subdivided into 5. In the 18th century these captainships were incorporated by the crown, and the grand captainship of Bahia became the headquarters of government.
Envisioning conversion, the Franciscans were the first of the religious orders to establish contact with the New World. It was the Jesuits, however, who were to play a greater role in colonization, arriving in 1549 from Portugal, with the first Governor of Brazil, Tomé de Souza. In addition to their school in Salvador, they immediately established residency in Porto Seguro and in Ilhéus.
Branching out from these spots, they created many villages not too far away. In 1563, Mem de Sá granted the Jesuits land near Camamu, where in the same year the Jesuits founded two villages and residencies, in both Boipeba and in Camamu.
In the 17th century, this region began to develop a role in the production of foodstuff and construction material for both the city of Salvador, and for the sugarcane-growing plantations around the bay. The village of Boipeba grew, as colonizers fled the continent, fearful of Aimoré Indian raids. The village became an official settlement between 1608 and 1610.
The economy of the Bahian coast was exclusively one of extraction for three centuries. At first the target was brazil-wood, highly valued by European dye merchants. Afterwards wood was extracted which was used for both naval and urban construction. The cutting of the wood mostly took place along the central portion of the Bahian coast, between Ilhéus and Valença.
This economy of extraction included the harvesting of native fibers from palms, examples being both piassaba and dendê fronds, both used for thatching. Sugar cane production was developed during the 17th century in Camamu, and the growing of manioc spread to the bays of Tinharé and Camamu, especially on the islands, far away from indigenous attacks.
Other crops, such as cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper, were introduced in the 18th century.
In 1631, on the Morro de São Paulo, due to its strategic position near the entrance to the Bay of All Saints, a fortress was built by order of Governor Diogo Luís de Oliveira. The fortress was enlarged in 1730, becoming one of the largest fortifications on the Brazilian coast.
At the end of the 18th century, the settlement of Amparo, on the banks of the Una River, became a town named Valença (1799), with its territory separated from the County of Cairu.
The first large industrial project implanted in the state was in Valença, the Todos os Santos Textile Factory. The factory was activated in 1847, and by 1848 was already producing 600 rods of fabric daily while employing 100 workers. The factory is still operating today.