Santa Catarina is a state in southern Brazil. According to the Index of Economic Well-Being calculated between 2002 and 2008, Santa Catarina was the Brazilian state that revealed the highest economic well-being in relation to the others. Its capital is Florianópolis, which mostly lies on the Santa Catarina Island while Joinville is Santa Catarina's largest city. Neighbouring states are Rio Grande do Sul to the south and Paraná to the north. It is bounded on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the west it borders the province of Misiones, Argentina.
The beaches along the coast of Santa Catarina are a great attraction for tourists visiting the smallest state of the South Region. Florianópolis, the capital, is one of the Brazilian cities with the highest HDI and that receives the most foreign tourists, especially from Europe and Argentina. The mountain ridge region, especially São Joaquim and Urupema, becomes an attraction during winter due to its low temperatures and snow.
People of German and Austrian descent make up the largest ethnic group among the population of Santa Catarina, at around 45% - with a considerable portion still speaking the German language. Blumenau, in the interior of Santa Catarina, is the stage for one of the biggest events of the Southern Region of the country, which possess a strong direct influence of German culture: the Oktoberfest of Blumenau, a traditional beer party/festival originated from Germany, that is held in October. Santa Catarina was one of the few states in Brazil that actually were mostly populated by a settlement programme with colonists coming from almost every European nation; their heritage can be seen in the architecture and the customs of the population of the state.
It is the Brazilian state with the highest levels of income, education and public health, and one of the lowest rates of illiteracy. Santa Catarina boasts Brazil's highest average life expectancy and lowest homicide rate in addition to lower levels of corruption. The cities of the state are also considered some the most livable in the country, enjoying a reputation of being "clean, safe and organized".
The Island, Island of Santa Catarina, is generally considered to have the best and most consistent waves in Brazil, and in April of each year hosts what is currently South America's only ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) World Championship Tour professional surfing competition. Brazil has played host to many an ASP tour event over the past 30 years. Former contest sites include Rio de Janeiro, Barra de Tijuca and Saquarema, but the past four years have seen the tour set up shop in Florianopolis. Previously held towards the end of the tour, the past few years have seen several ASP world champions crowned in Brazil. In 2004 it was Andy Irons, and in 2005 it was Kelly Slater (who had his 2006 ASP World Title already stitched up by Brazil).