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Bahia

Bahia is a state in the north-east of Brazil. It has an area of 561,026 sq. km. and an estimated population of 13,066,764 (2002).

Capital: Salvador.

Governor: Paulo Ganem Souto

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The Portuguese Pedro Alvares Cabral landed at what is now Porto Seguro, on the southern coast of Bahia in 1500, and claimed the territory for Portugal. In 1549, Portugal established the city of Salvador (also known as Bahia). The city and surrounding captaincy served as the administrative and religious capital of Portugal's colonies in the Americas until 1763. The Dutch held control of Bahia from May of 1624 through April of 1625.

Bahia was a center of sugar cultivation from the 16th to the 18th centuries, and contains a number of historical towns dating from this era. Integral to the sugar economy was the importation of a vast number of African slaves; today Bahia, the chief locus of the early Brazilian slave trade, is considered to possess the greatest and most distinctive African imprint, in terms of culture and customs, in Brazil. These include the Yoruba-derived religious system of Candomblé[?], the martial art of capoeira, African-derived musics such as samba, afoxé, and axé, and a cuisine with strong links to western Africa. There also are Indian tribes, such as the Pataxó, who reside on the southern Atlantic coast and in the state's interior.

The state's geographical regions comprise the mata atlântica or remnants of the Atlantic coast forests; the recôncavo region radiating from the Bay (the largest in Brazil), the site of sugar and tobacco cultivation; and the planalto, which includes the fabled sertão region of Bahia's far interior. Brazil's second longest river system, the São Francisco, runs from the Atlantic along the state's northern border down through the planalto into the neighboring southern state of Minas Gerais.

Bahia is the main producer and exporter of cacao in Brazil. In addition to important agricultural and industrial sectors, the state also has considerable mineral and oil deposits. Another major industry is touristry: Bahia's long coastline and cultural treasures make it one of the Brazil's chief tourist destinations.

Other important cities in the state include Ilhéus, the birthplace of Brazil's major 20th century writer, Jorge Amado; the old island city of Itaparica, on the island of the same name, in the bay; Cachoeira; Vitória da Conquista; and Lençois, in the Chapada Diamantina region.



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