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Minas Gerais

Minas Gerais is one of the states of Brazil, second most populated in the federation. The capital lies in the geographic center, the city of Belo Horizonte.

Current Governor: Aécio Neves (since 2003).

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Minas Gerais was formed mainly by colonists who searched for veins of gold and gems, and later diamonds (the name literally means "general mines"). These helped to boost occupation of the inner lands, and led to foundation of several new villages. The first capital and seat of local see was the city of Mariana, later moved to Vila Velha. Mining exploration was strongly controled by the Portuguese Crown, which imposed heavy taxes on everything extracted (one fifth of all gold would go to the Crown).

A group of middle-class colonists, mostly intellectuals and young officers, tried to insurrect against the colonial authorities in 1789, inspired by the independence of United States and other Illuminist ideals. But, as the conspiracy failed, the rebels were arrested and exiled. The most famous of them, Tiradentes (nickname for Joaquim José da Silva Xavier) was hung by order of the Queen Maria I of Portugal, and became a local hero and a national martyr of Brazil.

The city of Vila Velha was lately renamed to Ouro Preto[?] and remained as capital until the construction of all-new, planned Belo Horizonte.

Minas Gerais (or simply Minas, as commonly called) is a major producer of milk and other rural commodities.

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