With an area of about 25 thousand km2, Ilha do Bananal is considered the largest river island in the world, between two major rivers, Javaés and Araguaia, on the border between the states of Tocantins, Goiás and Mato Grosso. The area belongs to the state of Tocantins and is located in the plains of Cantão, where the municipalities of Pium, Caseara, Formoso do Araguaia, Lagoa da Confusão and Marianópolis are.
The island is divided in a national park and an indigenous reservation, and is one of the most important conservation areas in Brazil, classified by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a biosphere reserve. Two distinct indigenous populations live in the island, the Javaés and the Karajá, producing among other types of crafts, the Ritxòkò dolls, certified by the Historical and Artistic Institute (IPHAN) as cultural heritage of Brazil.
The pristine fauna and flora resemble the Pantanal and, during most of the year, much of the island territory is flooded. To enter the island, an authorization from federal agencies is necessary; either from Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity (ICMBio), which has an office in Pium, or the National Indian Foundation (Funai), whose headquarters is located in Palmas.
One of the great attractions for tourists from all over Brazil is the thrill of recreational fishing - one can catch large specimens of piraras, pirarucus, surubins and caranhas, among others.
Ilha do Bananal is divided into two areas of environmental reserve: in the south, the Araguaia Indigenous Park, created primarily to protect the Indigenous peoples of the region, is home to a large number of Indigenous villages, especially from the Karajá ethnicity and is managed by FUNAI; in the north, the Araguaia National Park is now managed by ICMBIO - it once encompassed the whole island, but nowadays its area was reduced.
Municipalities in the vicinity the island
The touristic region Ilha do Bananal encompasses the municipalities of Formoso do Araguaia Gurupi, Lagoa da Confusão and Peixe, which are not exactly in the island, but in its surroundings. Bathed by the rivers Formoso, Urubu, Araguaia and Javaé, the cities of Lagoa da Confusão and Formoso do Araguaia are the gateways to Ilha do Bananal and the Araguaia National Park. With flat topography and large amount of water, the area is characterized by the amount of different fruits that attract a variety of birds, endemic and migrant.
In Lagoa da Confusão, species of fauna and flora characteristic to the Amazon region can be found, and various environmental protection projects are developed in the region, headquartered in Cantão State Park. In Formoso do Araguaia, the main attraction is recreational fishing, practiced throughout the year, due to the great quality of the water and the large variety of fish species (300), 50 of which are classified as game fish. This practice has become the main economic activity of the region, attracting a large numbers of tourists.