Plateau area of west-central Brazil comprising two federal units (states): Mato Grosso (area 901,420 sq km/348,040 sq mi; population (2014 est) 3,224,350; and Mato Grosso do Sul (area 357,471 sq km/138,020 sq mi; population (2000) 2,078,000), with their capitals at Cuiaba and Campo Grande (founded in 1889) respectively; total area 1,258,891 sq km/486,0578 sq mi. The region covers 15% of the country's total area and contains less than 3% of its total population. The vegetation is mainly grassland, with scrub, tropical forest in much of the region, and a large wetland area. The Pantanal is one of the world's largest swamps and an important ecosystem. Cattle-raising has been the main economic activity for over 100 years.
The northern part of the region is crossed by several tributaries of the Amazon; the River Paraguay flows through the southwest, and the Paraná River and its tributaries cross the southeast. There are mineral deposits (especially manganese) in the southwest of the region.
History The region was divided in the 1970s creating the two states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. The division which allowed political control over the region was in response to the increased importance of the region economically. Campo Grande has become an important financial and administrative centre.
Mato Grosso state Mato Grosso is the northerly state (federal unit) of the Mato Grosso region, Central-west region of Brazil. It is very sparsely populated with no major settlements, dominated only by the state capital Cuiaba ´ which developed post-1719 with the discovery of gold. It is divided by the River Cuiabá. It was the capital of the entire Mato Grosso region until its subdivision in the 1970s and the establishment of Campo Grande as the capital of the newly formed state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
Given the geographical isolation of Mato Grosso, Cuiabá has strategic importance as a commercial and administrative centre linked to Brasilia, Port Velho and São Paulo by road. It is used by tourists as a gateway to the Pantanal swamplands (Parque Nacional do Pantanal Matogrossense) to the south of the state and to see the nearby mountain village of Chapada dos Guimarães – the region's secondary tourist attraction. The city's surrounding hinterland is largely agricultural producing maize, fruit, rice and soya. Beyond Cuiaba ´ the state has little to offer other than extensive cattle ranching in the Northern Mato Grosso. Economically ranching is more important than tourism to the region.
There are also large lead ore deposits being worked and oil has been discovered at Várzea Grande – Cuiabá's sister city. Rubber and palmnut industries are important as sustainable local industries with the potential for export. The state is home to many of Brazil's remaining Indian tribal peoples.
Mato Grosso do Sul state The more recently created Mato Grosso do Sul state (federal unit), Central-west region of Brazil, is considered economically more prosperous than Mato Grosso state to the north. This prosperity has largely developed from cattle ranching, although tourism is an important industry. Campo Grande, founded in 1889 and made capital of the new state in the late 1970s is a modern city that has developed a financial and administrative role as well as serving as a market centre for entire region. It has a population of about 500,000. The city is linked by railway to the port city of Corumbá on the western side of the Pantanal – the Mato Grosso region's third and only large settlement (it borders Bolivia).
The Pantanal is a vast swampland (about half the size of France) that stretches across the state from north to southwest and forms as a result of seasonal floods (created by the River Paraguay and tributaries) on the open scrub plains. It is an ecological paradise teeming with wildlife, despite the introduction of a large cattle population into the region over the last 100 years. It is renowned throughout South America for the variety of bird, fish and animal species, such as piranha, otters, iguanas, cougars, capybaras, monkeys, jaguars and alligators. No roads completely penetrate the area – due to geographical, ecological and financial factors. The principal road is the Transpataneira, which ends at Porto Jofre within the swamplands. Ecotourism is increasingly important to this state drawn by the attractions of the Pantanal as well as the railway links across the state from São Paulo.