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Coordinates: 21°58′51″S 42°22′04″W / 21.98083°S 42.36778°W / -21.98083; -42.36778 Cantagalo is a city located in the east-central area of Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. The population, according to the 2004 census, is 20,557. Its area is 749 km² and the elevation is 391m. The population density is 25,4/km².

Colonization of Cantagalo began in 1755, when Portuguese nobleman Manoel Henriques, Duke of Terso and a clandestine gold miner left the state of Minas Gerais in search of unexplored riches. Henriques and his group erected a settlement and began exploring the banks of local rivers. By 1784, the settlement had grown to accommodate approximately 200 houses. This growth caught the attention of the Portuguese rulers of Brazil, who had a monopoly over gold exploration in the colony. By order of Dom Luiz de Vasconcelos e Souza, viceroy of Brazil, several expeditions were sent to the woods around Cantagalo (then called Sertões de Macacu, after the river Macacu) in search of Henriques and his group. The municipality's current name (in Portuguese, the crowing of a rooster), was inspired by the circumstances around his capture. A troop was about to return to their camp after a day of searching in vain around the woods, when a soldier heard the crowing of a rooster nearby and decided to further explore the area. One of Henriques' men was found in a clearing in the woods and, in exchange for his release, revealed the whereabouts of the rest of the group. Henriques was deported to Africa in dishonour. By 1786, the settlement's name had been officially changed from Sertões de Macacu to Cantagalo. In 1814, Cantagalo was officially recognized by Emperor Pedro I as a municipality and in October 1857, was officially elevated to the category of city.

With the end of the "gold fever", agriculture became the main economic activity in Cantagalo, with maize, coffee, and sugarcane plantations covering several acres of highly fertile land.

Nowadays, the city's economic activities still revolve around agriculture, with the exploration of granite and calcareous rock for the cement industry also playing a strong role. Some of the largest cement manufacturers in Brazil have facilities in Cantagalo.

Brazilian writer Euclides da Cunha, was born in Cantagalo on January 15, 1886. One of the city's districts is named Euclidelândia, in his homage.

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