Social housing is now being constructed all over Brazil thanks to the government’s Minha Casa Minha Vida (My House My Life) programme. A major participant in this programme is Anglo-Brazilian property developer EcoHouse Group who began building under the scheme back in 2009, Now 5 years later and with almost a dozen developments to their name in the north east of the country they move south, announcing that their next project will be located near to Porto Alegre, state capital of Rio Grande Do Sul.
There was a lot of speculation early this year as to where EcoHouse Group would be building next, rumours where correct and their next social housing project was indeed in the south of the country but not Joinville as some had speculated.
Joinville is the largest settlement (but not the capital) of Santa Catarina State. Nowadays Joinville has rather more than half a million residents plus about the same number again in the surrounding metropolitan area. Many of the people in the city are of German descent and indeed some estimates put the total at over half. Of course, being of German ‘descent’ often means just partly rather than wholly.
The first Europeans to come to the area were German, Swiss and Norwegian immigrants in the year 1851 when the town was founded. In the decades that followed people from many countries came to Joinville but the largest component was a total of 17,000 German immigrants sent over the years by an emigration society based in Hamburg. These people were mainly agricultural Lutheran and working-class people who came to make a fresh start in a new land.
The name Joinville is actually French not German. It was chosen in the early 1800’s to honour the french Prince de Joinville (son of the king) who married a Brazilian princess. Although the royal couple had no connection to the area, a palace was eventually built for them here. It’s now a museum about the German 19th century immigration process.
Eventually ‘cash-flow’ problems meant that the Prince was eventually forced to sell nearly all his land in the south of Brazil. Holdings in this district went to the German, Senator Schroder who was a leader of the Hamburg Colonisation Society previously mentioned.
Nowadays Joinville is well known for its continuing German architecture, cuisine and general culture. Needless to say, though, there are also many other people in the city and area who have Portuguese, Italian or Dutch ancestors. Compared to many other regions and cities of Brazil, there are comparatively very few inhabitants of African or indigenous native American heritage. It’s also famous as a popular centre for exhibitions, trade fairs, business conventions and conferences and the like.
The economy today is centred on engineering, industry and manufacturing. In 2012 GM opened a vehicle plant. There are also (among many others) software companies like Datasul and Logocenter and large firms like Tupy, Tigre, Schulz SA and Dohler. Nearby, BMW has plans to launch a large factory producing luxury vehicles and this is due to open by the end of this year, 2014.
The economy of Joinville is generally regarded as doing well and for this reason inward investment, from both domestic and overseas sources is steady.