São Luís, Maranhão

São Luís, Maranhão

Infobox City
name = São Luís
settlement_type = Municipality
official_name = The Municipality of
São Luís do Maranhão
nickname =
motto =

imagesize = 250px
image_caption = The skyline of São Luís


map_caption = Location of São Luís
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_type1 = Region
subdivision_type2 = State
subdivision_name = flag|Brazil
subdivision_name1 = Northeast
subdivision_name2 =
leader_title = Mayor
leader_name = Tadeu Palácio (PDT)
leader_title1 =
leader_name1 =
leader_title2 =Soa
leader_name2 =
leader_title3 =
leader_name3 =
established_title = Founded
established_date = September 8, 1612
established_title2 =
established_date2 =
established_title3 =
established_date3 =
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 827.141
area_total_sq_mi = 319.360
area_land_km2 =
area_land_sq_mi =
area_water_km2 =
area_water_sq_mi =
area_water_percent =
area_urban_km2 =
area_urban_sq_mi =
area_metro_km2 =
area_metro_sq_mi =
population_as_of = 2006 IBGE
population_note =
population_total = 998385
population_density_km2 = 1183.4
population_density_sq_mi = 3064.9
population_metro = 1227659
population_density_metro_km2 =
population_density_metro_sq_mi =
population_urban =
timezone = UTC-3
utc_offset = -3
timezone_DST =
utc_offset_DST =
latd= |latm= |lats= |latNS=
longd= |longm= |longs= |longEW=
elevation_m = 4
elevation_ft = 12
postal_code_type =
postal_code =
blank_name = HDI (2000)
blank_info = 0.778 – medium
website = [http://www.saoluis.ma.gov.br São Luís, Maranhão]
footnotes =

São Luís is the capital of the Brazilian state of Maranhão. The city is located on São Luís island in the Baía de São Marcos, an extension of the Atlantic Ocean which forms the estuary of Pindaré, Mearim, Itapecuru and other rivers. Its coordinates are 2.50° south, 44.30° west. The city proper has a population of some 998,385 people (2006 IBGE estimate). The metropolitan area totals 1,227,659 (ranked as the 16th largest in Brazil).

São Luís is the only Brazilian state capital founded by France (see France Équinoxiale) and it is one of the three Brazilian state capitals located on islands (the others are Vitória and Florianópolis).

The city has sea ports; Ponta da Madeira, Porto do Itaqui; through which a substantial part of Brazil's iron ore, originating from the (pre)-Amazon region, is exported. The city's main industries are metallurgical with Alumar, and Vale do Rio Doce. São Luís is home of the Federal University of Maranhão.

São Luís was the home town of famous Brazilian Samba singer Alcione, Brazilian writers Aluísio Azevedo, Ferreira Gullar and Josué Montello, Brazil's former President José Sarney, Belgian-naturalised soccer player Luís Oliveira, and Zeca Baleiro, an MPB singer.


Originally the town was a large village of the Tupinambá tribe. The first Europeans to see it were the French, in 1612, who intended to make it a French colony. They made a fort named São Luís ("Saint Louis"), after Saint Louis IX of France as a compliment to King Louis XIII. It was conquered for Portugal by Jerônimo de Albuquerque in 1615, leaving little time for the French to build a city. This has led to some controversy as to the actual date of the founding of the city by the French or the Portuguese. In 1641 the city was invaded by the Dutch. They stayed until 1645 and did not manage to influence the city's architecture or to leave any sign of their invasion, mainly because they did not build, but focused instead on violent domination. In 1677, the city was made the seat of the Diocese of São Luís do Maranhão.

Only when those invasions ceased permanently, did the colonial government decide to create the state of Grão-Pará e Maranhão, independent from the rest of the country. By that time, the economy was based on agriculture, particularly the exportation of sugar cane, cacao and tobacco. Conflicts amongst the local elites would lead to the Beckman's Revolt.

Soon after the outbreak of the American Civil War, the region started to provide cotton to England. The wealth originated by this activity was used to modernize the city; instigate religious men to come and teach in their schools; and water supplement. The city came to be the third most populous city in the country, but by the end of the 19th century agriculture faced its decay and, from this time forth, the city has been searching for other ways of sustenance.

Nowadays, São Luís has the largest and best preserved heritages of colonial Portuguese architecture of all Latin America. The island is known as the "Island of Love" and "Brazilian Athens", due to its many poets and writers, such as Aluísio Azevedo, Graça Aranha, Gonçalves Dias (the most famous), Ferreira Gullar, among others.


The GDP for the city was R$ 9,340,944,000 (2005). [cite book|url=http://www.ibge.gov.br/home/estatistica/economia/pibmunicipios/2005/tab01.pdf|title=GDP|publisher=IBGE|location=São Luís, Brazil|format=PDF|isbn=85-240-3919-1|accessdate=2007-07-18|year=2005|language=Portuguese]

The per capita income for the city was R$ 9,543 (2005). [cite book|url=http://www.ibge.gov.br/home/estatistica/economia/pibmunicipios/2005/tab01.pdf|title=per capita income|publisher=IBGE|location=São Luís, Brazil|format=PDF|isbn=85-240-3919-1|accessdate=2007-07-18|year=2005|language=Portuguese]


Portuguese is the official national language, and thus the primary language taught in schools. But English and Spanish are part of the official high school curriculum.

Educational institutions

* Universidade Federal do Maranhão (UFMA);
* Universidade Estadual do Maranhão (UEMA);
* Centro Federal de Educação Tecnológica do Maranhão (Cefet-MA);
* Faculdade São Luís;
* Unidade de Ensino Superior Dom Bosco (UNDB);
* Faculdade Atenas Maranhense (FAMA);
* and many others.


Infobox World Heritage Site
WHS = Historic Centre of São Luís

State Party = BRA
Type = Cultural
Criteria = iii, iv, v
ID = 821
Region = Latin America and the Caribbean
Year = 1997
Session = 21st
Link = http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/821

São Luís is known for its tiles which most buildings in the historical centre are covered in. Because of it the city is also known as "The Tiles City".

It also has some cultural peculiarities namely:

Tambor de Crioula: Afro-Brazilian dance in which gaily glad women court a bateria of tambors (a row of drums). Whirling and gyrating in time to the music they negotiate for prime position in the centre of the bateria.

Tambor de Mina: Not to be confused with the above, this is the local variant of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomble.
Bumba Meu Boi: A popular farce which takes its form as a grand musical pantomime. Practice is a public affair and begins directly after Easter reaching its climax in June when literally hundreds of groups perform on a nightly basis for popular acclaim and pure enjoyment. Set personalities and characters play out a comedic tragedy with a metaphor for social harmony at its heart. Settlers, the infamous Coroneis, Indians, spirit workers, African slaves and forest spirits are enacted though incredible costume, original choreography and music - all performed amongst the greatest all-night revelry. The crowd joins in with singing, dancing and dependent on the groups sotaque (or style) the playing of matracas (two wooden blocks, held in each hand and struck together repeatedly). Like the festival of Sao Joao and its requisite Forro dance in the North-Eastern states further south Bumba Meu Boi is a harvest festival but with the bull as its centre-piece. Food and drinks made from local produce not only accompany the event but are a pre-requisite due to the high calorific needs of the heavily costumed dancers.

Capoeira: The São Luís form of capoeira is said to be akin to the kind of capoeira now recognized as ‘traditional bahian capoeira’ that predated the Bahian angola/regional polemic which split the capoeira world in the 1950s.

In 1997 the city's historical center was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Starting in 1989 there has been an extensive program to restore and renovate the colonial era buildings of the city's historical center.


External links

Photos from Sao Luis
* http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=sao+luis
* [http://lechenet.free.fr/saoluis/saoluis.htm Aerial pictures from the City of Sao Luis made with powered paraglider]

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