Down South

By Rob Packer

It is a peculiarity of Brazilian Portuguese that capital and interior are opposites, which is—as far as I know—not the case in any other language. This is a surprisingly pervasive difference and seems to imply that all capitals are cosmopolitan metropolises, while the interior is a rural backwater or maybe jungle. The interior can also include the coast (not sure about the beach though) and an inland state a thousand kilometres from the coast has a part that isn’t considered interior. In other countries, this is completely different: Germany’s Länder capitals may or may not be important cities, several US state capitals are deliberately tiny and a lot of people in the UK have no idea where the county town is (if my compatriots don’t believe me, they can ask themselves what the county towns of Kent, Derbyshire or Surrey is). But Brazil is different: the country’s twelve largest cities are state capitals and being a state capital is considered of paramount importance. Some of the effects seem plain strange: for example, the airline TAM has one helpline number for capitals (all of them) and another for elsewhere.

Santa Catarina’s capital, the island municipality of Florianópolis, is an anomaly though: it’s one of two capitals that isn’t the state’s largest city and once you head to the south of the island, things can start to feel, well, a bit like the interior.

In September I went to visit two places in the south with slightly strange names; but Armação (scaffold, frame or easel) and Pântano (swamp) feel more like relatively isolated beach villages than part of a metropolis. Here are the photos:

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3 Responses to Down South

  1. Andre says:

    it was a beautiful day. even though the sun came just before sunset. and the “wine” was not “wine”: grape juice + sugar + alcohol.

    interesting considerations about “interior” and “capital”. you should know that people who live in Rio and Sao Paulo (the largest brazilian cities) think the rest of the country is “interior”.

    • robpacker says:

      Haha! I’d never heard Cariocas or Paulistanos calling the rest of the country “interior”. It’s not hugely surprising though.

  2. IIF says:

    i’ve heard their Argentinian neighbours refer to non-federal capital provinces as “interior”. perhaps ones took it from the others

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