Espírito Santo lies along the Atlantic coast between Bahia and Rio de Janeiro and is bordered to the west by Minas Gerais. Portuguese colonists established the state capital, Vitória, in 1551. They built the city an island to protect it from raids by indigenous peoples and attacks by the French and Dutch.
Residents of Espírito Santo are called ‘Capixaba’, a Tupi word meaning ‘corn hair’. The name is thought to refer either to the blond hair of the European invaders or to the widespread corn (Zea mays) plantations around Vitória.