In the 1500s, the area was discovered by Portuguese sailor Pedro Alvares Cabral, who named it Terra de Vera Cruz - Land of the True Cross, which was quickly renamed Santa Cruz - Holy Cross.

An excerpt from the article 31 facts about Brazil

The place where the sailors went ashore is now called Porto Seguro (safe harbor) and is located in the state of Bahia. The first whites to be forcibly settled were two convicts left there by Cabral to assimilate with the natives.

The first Portuguese settlers arrived in Santa Cruz in 1501. They included poor people, but also nobles who were allotted vast tracts of land - many of these huge estates are the current Brazilian states.

Brazil was colonized by Portugal for 300 years.