When the Europeans settlers arrived in 1500, all of the Brazilian coast was covered with the Mata Atlantica, the Atlantic Rainforest. After five centuries of unceasing deforestation (to make room for the mass cultures, sugarcane and coffee, and for breeding), it is believed that only 4 to 5 % of this unique ecosystem, found nowhere else in the world, is left. The Costa Verde (green coast) is only a small part of this coast between the two biggest cities of the country: Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. It is one of the last sanctuaries where you can contemplate and visit this forest in its native and virgin aspect. On a stretch of more than 200 kilometers (124 mi), there is no straight line possible, but you can find elegant curved creeks and round hills smoothly descending onto the ocean. The coastal roads meander endlessly between the turquoise sea and the emerald colored forest, marking the limit of the territories and the nuances of a great range of greens. Angra dos Reis, the biggest agglomeration in the area does not have a lot of interest. It is known as the main port to go to Ilha grande, one of the natural treasures of the Costa Verde and a great destination to relax on dreamy beaches and to walk in the forest. Another attraction is the colonial village of Paraty whose life was tormented by the gold rush. The place had its peak of interest in the 18th century before collapsing and being forgotten until the 50s when the first road leading to the village helped it rise again. From then the historical center has been totally rehabilitated and is nowadays one of the nicest in Brazil. The surroundings are still preserved and there are many trekking options. Last but not least, the Ilha Bela ("pretty island") is largely enjoyed by the Sao Paulo inhabitants but not yet by international tourists. Like the Ilha grande, the island is protected from urbanization and is thus a great destination for wilderness lovers.