Far South is a region of São Paulo. It is the largest region of the municipality of São Paulo, and although the second most populous, it is by far the least densely populated. A large portion of the region is covered by forest, farms and water (the Guarapiranga and Billings water reservoirs). For a visitor, the Far South offers options that cannot be found anywhere else in the municipality, like doing nautical sports, watching F1 races, meditating in a Messianic temple, visiting indigenous tribes, and even watching the sea on the top of Serra do Mar.
The Far South is divided in 12 districts, grouped in 5 subprefectures:
- Campo Limpo: Capão Redondo, Campo Limpo, Vila Andrade
- M’boi Mirim: Jardim São Luís, Jardim Ângela
- Socorro: Socorro, Cidade Dutra, Grajaú
- Cidade Ademar: Cidade Ademar, Pedreira
- Parelheiros: Parelheiros, Marsilac
The Far South region corresponds to the peripheric area of the extinguished municipality of Santo Amaro. In the beginning of the 19th century, German immigrants established farms in the region that would become known as Parelheiros. Not much would happen until the beginning of the 20th century, when the Guarapiranga and Billings water reservoirs were constructed with the goal of supplying water to São Paulo. The reservoirs gave the region unmatched beauty and leisure potential in the city. Many attempts to attract wealthy people to live in the area have been made by that time, but they only met partial success.
The real change would happen in the second half of the 20th century, following the industrial and commercial growth of Santo Amaro. Working class suburbs, mostly populated by migrants from the Northeast of Brazil, started to form around the water reservoirs. The growth was fast, chaotic, and not followed by proper governamental action. Irregular occupations, destruction of nature areas, pollution of water, and formation of inumerous slums (favela’s) took place. In contrast with the South Central, which is a predominatly wealthy region with some poor areas, the Far South became a predominantly poor region with pockets of wealth, like the Panamby and Riviera Paulista neighborhoods, respectively in the Vila Andrade ad Jardim São Luís districts. In parallel to that, Japanese immigrants settled in the farms of Parelheiros, where they founded the Solo Sagrado of the Church of the World Messianity, one of the region’s major attractions.
Efforts to deal with the social and environmental problems of the region are underway. The shores of Guarapiranga and Billings are being gradually turned into public parks, which both protects them from residential occupation and offers additional leisure options to the inhabitants of the region. These parks are, however, controversial among environmentalists, as some of them argue that the primary purpose of the reservoirs is to supply quality water to the city and not provide leisure, with both goals being sometimes at odds with each other. Guarapirange is very popular for nautical sports like sailing, windsurf, wakeboard and rowing, and Billings for fishing.
Parelheiros and Marsilac (which compose 24% of the area of the municipality) are still mostly covered by preserved rainforest, as are known as the Amazônia Paulistana. Most of their area is now under protection of environmental laws, and their natural beauty have recently attracted the attention of ecotourism companies.