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Cuiabá was founded in the early 18th century, when gold and diamond prospecting boosted the region’s population and economy. It is now the capital of Mato Grosso, which remains one of the richest states in Brazil.

The neighbouring city of Várzea Grande is separated from Cuiabá only by the Cuiabá River, and the two have a combined population of around one million inhabitants. The main industry in the area is agriculture: in particular cattle-raising and the farming of soya beans, cotton and sugar cane. A savannah landscape borders Cuiabá. To the north, around 50km from the city, is the Chapada dos Guimarães National Park, with dramatic scenery featuring canyons, caves, waterfalls and giant rock formations. Cuiabá is the northern point of access to the Pantanal wetland, which occupies a vast area to the south.