Januária is a picturesque municipality located in the northern Minas Gerais state, Brazil. The city is situated on the left bank of the São Francisco River and covers an area of 6,691 km2 (2007). According to IBGE 2020, the population was 67,852 inhabitants. The city is surrounded by Bonito de Minas, Cônego Marinho, São Francisco, Pedras de Maria da Cruz, Itacarambi, and Chapada Gaúcha. It is also a statistical microregion of 16 municipalities, covering an area of 15,945.80 km2 with a population of 246,071 in 2000. Due to its size, there are several districts, including Brejo do Amparo, Levinópolis, Pandeiros, Riacho da Cruz, São Joaquim, Tejuco, and Várzea Bonita.
Januária has a tropical climate with transitions to semi-arid, with an average annual temperature of 26°C and elevation of 454.87 meters. The vegetation is predominantly cerrado (savanna) and clusters of caatinga (thorn bush). The BR-135 is the most important route of communication for the city, and a modern bridge has replaced the ferry on the river. The distance between Januária and the state capital, Belo Horizonte, is 613 km. The city is located in an agro-pastoral region, with agriculture being a dominant economic activity. The most important crops include sugar cane, corn, manioc, beans, mango, breadfruit, coconut, orange, avocado, cashew, and bananas. Cattle raising is also a significant economic activity, with 62,000 head in 2006. Small industries produce rum, vinegar, cotton by-products, shoes, and furniture.
In terms of healthcare and education, Januária has two hospitals with 113 beds, 21 health clinics, 95 primary schools with an enrollment of 15,411, and 13 middle schools with an enrollment of 239 (data from 2005). The MHDI is .699, indicating a moderate level of human development.
The city has an intriguing history dating back to 1553 when the first explorers arrived looking for gold. The first settlement was called Brejo do Salgado, and the first sugarcane mill was set up, followed by a chapel dedicated to Nossa Senhora do Amparo. In 1833, Brejo do Salgado became a vila, and the name was changed to Januária in homage to Princess Januária, daughter of Emperor Pedro I. In 1860, Januária was elevated to the category of city. The municipality contains part of the Cavernas do Peruaçu National Park, which holds the dramatic Gruta do Janelão, a large limestone cave.
Januária is a great destination for nature lovers and history buffs alike. The city’s location on the banks of the São Francisco River offers extensive recreational possibilities, including beaches along the river in the months of July, August, and September when the river is low and relatively clean. One of the most popular attractions nearby is the Cachoeira de Pandeiros, a 15-meter-high waterfall with a large area for swimming. The city itself boasts several government buildings and private houses with preserved 19th-century architecture, including the Casa da Memoria (1910) and the City Hall (1890).
Januária is easily accessible by Januária Airport, which is located 5 km (3 mi) northwest of the city. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, Januária is a destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list.