Thirty years ago, the broad valley bisected by the Rio Tocantins held just a scattering of rural fazendas (ranches). Starting in 1989, a new state capital was built from scratch, and construction, the state government and economic incentives brought thousands of Brazilians to this unlikely landscape, 1000km north of Brasília and 1600km south of Belém. The city itself is sure to strike most first-timers as sterile and shadeless, but it has a way of growing on you, with a number of good outdoorsy options nearby.

We wouldn't cross the country to visit, and until neighboring Taquarussú really takes off as an ecotourism destination, there aren't that many reasons to come here, although it does have a certain appeal as a study in custom-made, modern urban architecture.