The Port of Vitoria is the capital and major port of the State of Espirito Santo in eastern Brazil. Located about 418 kilometers northeast of Rio de Janeiro on the west of Vitoria Island in Espirito Santo Bay, it is the 14th biggest urban area in Brazil. The Port of Vitoria’s urban population was about 1.6 million in 2005, although the city proper was home to 313 thousand souls.
Vitoria Island was settled by colonists in 1535 who found it relatively safe from indigenous peoples and from attacks by French and Dutch forces searching for sugar cane. It remained a small village until the late 19th Century when the republican government undertook modernization efforts. Muniz Freire came to power in the 1890s and undertook the paving of roads, securing rail connections with the inland areas, and planning expansion. Mainly due to traffic through the Port of Vitoria, the town began to grow by exporting coffee.
In 1908, the State’s governor supported the Port of Vitoria’s urban development, and it became a commercial center with the help of rail links completed in 1911. During the early 1900s, many public works created schools, a state library and museum, a hospital, a cemetery, and Moscoso Park.
The Port of Vitoria was born as coffee plantations grew in the state. In the 1870s, it became popular for the export of coffee and other agricultural products, like sugar cane, from Espirto Santo to the world. In 1906, the federal government authorized the Companhia Porto de Vitoria to develop and manage port facilities there. Over a thousand meters of quay were constructed, but the project was interrupted in 1914. The project was transferred to the state government in 1924, and construction began again. By late 1940, the modern port complex was completed.
From the 1950s to the 1970s, additional quays were constructed at the Port of Vitoria. However, as ships grew larger, the Port of Vitoria became more difficult to navigate. With a narrow bay and limited land-based access due to mountains and rocky terrain, freighters and maritime cruisers looked for other ports of call. Today, the Port of Vitoria is used primarily for the repair of ships and by cruise lines.