Santa Catarina (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈsɐ̃tɐ kataˈɾinɐ], Saint Catherine) is a state in southern Brazil. According to the Index of Economic Well-Being calculated between 2002 and 2008, Santa Catarina was the Brazilian state that revealed the highest economic well-being in relation to the others. Its capital is Florianópolis, which mostly lies on the Santa Catarina Island. Neighbouring states are Rio Grande do Sul to the south and Paraná to the north. It is bounded on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the west it borders the province of Misiones, Argentina. Most of its inhabitants are descendants of Danish, Dutch, German, Italian and Norwegian immigrants.
The beaches along the coast of 561 kilometres (349 mi) are a great attraction for tourists visiting the smallest state of the South Region. Florianópolis, the capital, is one of the Brazilian cities with the highest HDI and that receives the most foreign tourists, especially from Europe. In the mountain region, especially São Joaquim and Urupema, is an attraction during winter because of its low temperatures and snow. Blumenau, in the interior of Santa Catarina, is the stage for one of the biggest events of the South Region of the country, that possess a strong influence of German culture: the Oktoberfest of Blumenau, a traditional beer party originated from Germany, is held in October in Blumenau city. The heritage of the German, Swedish, Finnish, Dutch, Italian and Danish immigrants can be seen in the architecture and the customs of the population of the state. Joinville is Santa Catarina's largest city. It was one of the few states in Brazil that actually were colonized by a system of settlement colonization in the case of immigrant settlers coming mainly from modern Germany, Austria, Italy, Russia, Spain, France and Scandinavia.
Quality of life is very high by Brazilian and Latin American standards. It is the Brazilian state with the highest levels of income, education and public health, and one of the lowest rates of illiteracy. Santa Catarina boasts Brazil's highest average life expectancy and lowest homicide rate in addition to lower levels of corruption. The cities of the state are also considered the most "livable" in Brazil, appearing as the most "clean, safe and organized" of the country. In recent decades, Santa Catarina has been dubbed "the Brazil that worked".
Santa Catarina is in a very strategic position in Mercosul, the South American Common Market. Its position in the map is situated between the parallel 25º57'41" and 29º23'55" of the Southern latitude and between the meridians 48º19'37" and 53º50'00" of Western longitude. Florianópolis, its capital, is 1,673 km (1,040 mi) from Brasilia, 705 km (438 mi) from São Paulo, 1,144 km (711 mi) from Rio de Janeiro and 1,850 km (1,150 mi) from Buenos Aires.
The Serra Geral, a southern extension of the Serra do Mar, runs north and south through the state parallel to the Atlantic coast, dividing the state between a narrow coastal plain and a larger plateau region to the west.
The Atlantic coast of Santa Catarina has many beaches, islands, bays, inlets, and lagoons. The humid tropical Serra do Mar coastal forests cover the narrow coastal zone, which is crossed by numerous short streams from the wooded slopes of the serras.
The central part of the state is home to the Araucaria moist forests, dominated by emergent Brazilian pines (Araucaria angustifolia). The drainage of the plateau is westward to the Paraná River, the rivers being tributaries of the Iguaçu, which forms its northern boundary, and of the Uruguay River, which forms its southern boundary. The semi-deciduous Paraná-Paraíba interior forests occupy the westernmost valleys of the Iguaçu and Uruguay rivers.
The highest point of the state is the Morro da Boa Vista, with an altitude of 1,827 m, and the second highest point is the Morro da Igreja, in the town of Urubici, with an altitude of 1,822 m.