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State of Bahia is a must visit

Bahia
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Bahia is the state with the longest Atlantic coast in Brazil (1183 km). The beaches are among the most beautiful in Brazil. Salvador, the capital and music stronghold of Brazil, invites you to visit one of the largest street festivals in the world and the historic Pelourinho.

But what are the places I should visit? Places like Praia do Forte, Porto Seguro, Chapada Diamantina, Morro de Sao Paolo, Itacaré and the Estrada do Coco are popular holiday destinations thanks to their paradisiacal beaches and breathtaking nature. The City of Salvador Bahia is a must related to Historical Aspects and is known for the biggest street festival worldwide “the Carnaval of Salvador” and its incredible variety of cultures. Salvador is one of the most important cities in Brazil when it comes to the creation of arts and music. 

Coffee, cocoa, sugar cane, bananas, pineapples, and cotton are grown in Bahia. In addition, there are raw material deposits such as gold, silver, and manganese in Bahia. The petrochemical industry is also represented there. Salvador, Bahia’s capital, was the capital of Brazil until 1763 and it is the music capital of Brazil par excellence. With a population of 15 million, Bahia is number 4 on the list of the most populous states in Brazil.

Every year we come to Salvador for a few days during our stay in Brazil and from there we go on exploratory trips to the different regions of Bahia.

But let’s start from the beginning.

Before the Portuguese came to Brazil, many ethnic groups lived in Bahia and communicated in different languages. Unfortunately, many were exterminated during the colonization by the Portuguese and only a few survived until our time. At that time they lived on agriculture and hunting.

Porto Seguro and Baíados to de Todos os Santos.

Around the year 1500, the Portuguese landed near Porto Seguro. The Bay of All Saints was then visited a year later by Amerigo Vespucci, and around 1549 Tomé de Souza founded the first Brazilian capital, Salvador da Bahia, on behalf of the Crown.

The Portuguese began the cultivation of sugar cane and enslaved the region’s indigenous groups for this purpose. Later, when this labor force was no longer sufficient, the Portuguese deported around 3.5 million slaves from Africa to Brazil between 1550 and 1850. See also Cachaça the most underestimated spirit in the world – Completely unjustified. Most of them came to the northeast of Brazil and that is why even today about 80% of the inhabitants of Salvador are dark-skinned.

Because of this large number, the slaves could preserve the African culture in Brazil. Throughout the centuries, African culture has enriched Brazilian culture through its religion, music, and food. 

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During the colonial period, the Portuguese, with the help of slavery, established cattle farms in the interior, in addition to sugar cane and tobacco cultivation. The cattle farms were located in the west of the Sertão and Minas Gervais and northwest of the Piauí.

Slavery is a very sad story and has left its mark in Brazil as well as in the USA. In 1888, slavery was finally abolished. By the way, Salvador was the first capital of Brazil from 1549 to 1763. The city was the center of the sugar industry until the price crash of sugar in the 1820s. In addition, the gold and coffee boom caused Salvador to fall apart as a capital.

Economic development of Bahia

Until the 19th century, the Bahian economy was mainly based on monocultures of sugar and tobacco. Slowly, developments in other economic sectors began to take hold.

Infrastructures began to improve with the construction of railroads, and banking and industry entered the Bahian economy. In the 1940s, the discovery of large oil deposits also helped drive Bahia’s modernization.

With its port, the city of Salvador is still an important export location for fruit, Cocoa, petrochemical, and also sugar cane. However, the development and growth of the tourism industry should not be underestimated. In this regard, however, we will post more shortly. 

In the 1960s, investments in the Aratu region significantly advanced industrialization in Bahia. In 1976, the industries in Aratu were metallurgy, petrochemicals, transportation, and non-metallic minerals. The importance of Aratu for the Bahian economy, with its industrial park with hundreds of factories and about 20,000 employees, as well as the infrastructure with emphasis on ports, the proximity to Salvador, and the industries of Camaçari is enormous.

Agriculture in Bahia is always subject to sudden fluctuations due to crop failures caused by periods of drought. Cattle breeding is continuously improved in growth and quality through diversification.

Today Bahia accounts for 36% of the GDP of the Northeast and more than half of the region’s exports. Among Brazilian states, it has the sixth-largest GDP.

Population 

Demography Value
Population
14,98 Mio (2021)
Density
24.82 inhabitants per square km (2010)
White
21.08%
Black
18.86%
Pardo
59.11%
Indigenous
0.5%
Monthly household per capita
842 R$ (2021)

Culinary

Bahia has some culinary delights which are historically influenced by many African influences. In addition, there are the influences of Portuguese and Brazilian cuisine. Important characteristic ingredients are Dendé palm oil, olive oil, coconut milk, native Brazilian herbs, and spices of all kinds. Below we have listed the most important Bahian specialties. 

  • Acarajé
  • Tapioca de carne seca
  • Cuscuz
  • Canjica
  • Sarapatel
  • Moqueca
  • Caruru
  • Vatapa
  • Quindim
  • Bolo de Chuva
  • Munguza

Bahian music styles

Anyone who has ever been to Brazil knows the importance of music for Brazilians. It is a constant companion in daily life. Brazilian music is enormously diverse and maintains many regional musical styles. Bahia is a cultural epicenter and also has several musical styles that originate from this state. Overall, the MPB “Música Popular Brasileira” is enormously diverse and unparalleled in the world. Some styles have even made it out into the world, such as the samba or bossa nova, and other styles have been strongly influenced by Brazilian styles, such as jazz or Latin jazz. 

Besides the music of the Candomblés, the Afoxé, Axé, and Samba-Reggae are outstanding music styles which have their origin in Bahia. For every music connoisseur and lover, the following stars, some of which have star status in the international music world, are from Bahia.

  • João Gilberto (Beside Tom Jobin inventor of the Bossa Nova)
  • Ivete Sangalo
  • Gilberto Gil (Founder of Tropicalismo)
  • Carlinhos Brown
  • Daniela Mercury
  • Claudia Leite
  • Caetano Veloso (Founder of Tropicalismo)
  • Dorival Caymmi
  • Gal Costa
  • Maria Bethania (sister of Caetano Veloso)

Last but not least

After all, this post was only meant to serve as an introduction to hopefully many more posts on Bahia destinations and the Bahian way of life. Bahia is a must for every Brazilian traveler, as already mentioned in the title.

Besides kilometer beaches, Carnaval, nature, food, and much more, the following destinations should serve as a small idea generator for your next trip. But these are by far not the only ones and we hope to dedicate a post to many more destinations in the coming years. Our desire for discovery and adventure in Brazil never dies.

Destinations

  • Salvador Bahia
  • Morro de São Paulo
  • Itacaré
  • Chapada Diamantina
  • Itabuna
  • Porto Seguro
  • Arraial d’Ajuda
  • Trancoso
  • Praia do Forte
  • Imbassai
  • Ilhéus
  • ….

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