Piauí

Teresina is the capital city of the Brazilian state of Piauí, located in the northeast of this South American country. Although it is located on the Atlantic Ocean, it has the shortest coastline of any of the states in Brazil, at only 66 kilometres in length. The total area of the state is a little over 251 529 square kilometres (or 97 116 square miles) and it has a population of approximately 3.1 million people. Another fact for which Piauí is known is that its capital city is the only one in the northeast to be located inland, because this state was originally inhabited from the inland areas and then extended outwards towards the coast. It is bordered by Maranhão, Ceará, Pernambuco, Bahia, Tocantins and, of course, the Atlantic Ocean.

Image of a aerial view of Teresina and river Poti
Aerial view of Teresina, capital city of Piauí, of and river Poti.

This area was once inhabited by native “Indians”, as the Europeans called them. These ones were hunter-gatherers who were semi-nomadic, living off the land and surviving well on its produce. They left ample evidence of their existence and lives in the form of archaeological ruins and cave art, which remain as testimony to the intriguing lives of these ancient civilisations. Bandits fleeing from São Paulo were the first official inhabitants of Piauí, establishing cattle farms and small settlements. During the 1600’s, this area attracted the poor and enslaved. However, large cattle farmers soon saw the merits of the uncultivated land and moved, with their livestock, from neighbouring states into Piauí. Cattle farming continued to grow and, by the 20th century, was the largest industry in Piauí. With this sort of farming came the cultivation of other products, such as cotton, sugar, tobacco, rubber and dyewoods. In 1852, the city of Teresina was the first to be planned.

The state of Piauí is almost completely situated in the Parnaíba Basin. The northern part of the state is low and marshy, while the south (which is inland) gradually becomes a high plateau. The main rivers and waterways that feed this plateau include the Poti, the Longa, and the Canindé. Between river valleys are flat-topped highlands called chapadas. The marshy areas of the south are low in nutrients, yielding low evergreen forests that can handle such compromised conditions. The Maranhão Babaçu forests stretch westward into Maranhão from the low plateaus. The east is home to drier scrubland vegetation, while the southwest boasts Cerrado savannahs. As with much of Brazil, Piauí’s climate is hot and humid, while the higher lying areas are slightly drier, with cool nights.

Image of Pedra Furada, Parque Nacional Serra da Capivara, Estado do Piauí
Pedra Furada, Parque Nacional Serra da Capivara, Estado do Piauí.

In terms of its economy, Piauí is one of the poorest states in the country. The services sector, industrial sector and agricultural sector makes up the state’s major GDP contributions in descending order. Its exports play a major role in the economy, and include essential oils, soybeans, cotton, cashew nuts, certain seafood and leather. A need to concentrate on tourism has been identified in an effort to attract visitors to the country, which is so rich in cultural and historical heritage.

Tourist attractions in Piauí include:

• The Central Market (Mercado Central)
• Palácio do Karnak - for classic Greek and Roman architecture enthusiasts
• The Piauí Museum
• Luís Correia – a quaint beach and coastal village
• Parque Nacional das Sete Cidades - where impressive archaeological ruins are displayed
• The Zoo and Botanic Garden
• The National Park of Serra da Capivara - a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Here is the Piauí government web site: http://www.piaui.pi.gov.br/index.php

And

Here is the Piauí tourism web site: http://sites.google.com/site/piauibrazil/