São Luís, Maranhão
São Luís is the capital and largest city of the Brazilian state of Maranhão
Maranhão is a northeastern state of Brazil. To the north lies the Atlantic Ocean. Maranhão is neighbored by the states of Piauí, Tocantins and Pará. The people of Maranhão have a distinctive accent...

. The city is located on Ilha de São Luís
São Luís Island
São Luís Island is an island in Brazil with an area of 1,410 km² , located between the Baía de São Marcos and the Baía de São José in Maranhão state. There are 4 cities located in the island: São Luís, after which the island is named, São José de Ribamar, Paço do Lumiar, and Raposa. São Luís is the...

 (São Luís Island) in the Baía de São Marcos
Baía de São Marcos
The Baía de São Marcos is a bay of the Atlantic Ocean in Maranhão state of northeastern Brazil.The bay is an estuary approximately 100 kilometers long and up to 16 kilometers wide. It receives several rivers, including the Grajaú, Mearim, and Pindaré...

 (São Marcos Bay), an extension of the Atlantic Ocean which forms the estuary of Pindaré
Pindaré River
The Pindaré River is a river in Maranhão state of north-central Brazil. The Pindaré rises in the low hills which separate its basin from that of the Tocantins River to the south, and flows north into the Baía de São Marcos...

, Mearim
Mearim River
The Mearim River is a river in Maranhão state of northern Brazil. The river originates in the southern part of Maranhão, and drains north into the Baía de São Marcos, an estuary that also receives the Pindaré and Grajaú rivers, which are sometimes considered tributaries of the Mearim. The lower...

, Itapecuru
Itapecuru River
The Itapecuru River, also known as the Itapicuru River, is a river in Maranhão state of northern Brazil. The Itapicuru originates in the southern part of the state, and flows northward to empty into the Baía de São José....

 and other rivers. Its coordinates are 2.53° south, 44.30° west. The city proper has a population of some 986,826 people (2008 IBGE
The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics or IBGE , is the agency responsible for statistical, geographic, cartographic, geodetic and environmental information in Brazil...

 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
France Équinoxiale
Equinoctial France was the contemporary name given to the colonization efforts of France in the 17th century in South America, around the line of Equator, before "tropical" had fully gained its modern meaning: Equinoctial means in Latin "of equal nights", i.e., on the Equator, where the duration of...

) and it is one of the three Brazilian state capitals located on islands (the others are Vitória and Florianópolis
-Climate:Florianópolis experiences a warm humid subtropical climate, falling just short of a true tropical climate. The seasons of the year are distinct, with a well-defined summer and winter, and characteristic weather for autumn and spring. Frost is infrequent, but occurs occasionally in the winter...


The city has two major sea ports: Madeira Port
Terminal Marítimo de Ponta da Madeira
The Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal, owned by mining company CVRD, sits next to the public port of Itaqui, in the state of Maranhão, in northern Brazil. It was chosen as the terminus of the Estrada de Ferro Carajas, where trains unload iron ore for shipping overseas, mainly to Europe and Eastern...

 and Itaqui Port
Porto do Itaqui
Port of Itaqui is the largest cargo port in Brazil, near the city of São Luís, Maranhão. It is not to be confused with the city of Itaqui, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, near the border with Argentina. The main cargoes include aluminum ingots and bars, pig iron, general, dry and liquid bulk...

, through which a substantial part of Brazil's iron ore, originating from the (pre)-Amazon
Amazon Basin
The Amazon Basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries that drains an area of about , or roughly 40 percent of South America. The basin is located in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela...

 region, is exported. The city's main industries are metallurgical
Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use...

 with Alumar
Alcoa Inc. is the world's third largest producer of aluminum, behind Rio Tinto Alcan and Rusal. From its operational headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Alcoa conducts operations in 31 countries...

, 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
Samba is a Brazilian dance and musical genre originating in Bahia and with its roots in Brazil and Africa via the West African slave trade and African religious traditions. It is recognized around the world as a symbol of Brazil and the Brazilian Carnival...

 singer Alcione, Brazilian writers Aluísio Azevedo
Aluísio Azevedo
Aluísio Tancredo Gonçalves de Azevedo was a Brazilian novelist, caricaturist, diplomat, playwright and short story writer. Initially a Romantic writer, he would later adhere to the Naturalist movement...

, Ferreira Gullar
Ferreira Gullar
Ferreira Gullar is the pen name for José Ribamar Ferreira , Brazilian poet, playwright, essayist, art critic, and television writer...

 and Josué Montello, Belgian-naturalised soccer player Luís Oliveira
Luis Oliveira
Luis Airton Barroso Oliveira is a former Brazilian-Belgian football player and currently coach of the Nuorese.He spent most of his playing career in Italy.-Career:...

, the musician João do Vale and Zeca Baleiro
Zeca Baleiro
Zeca Baleiro is a Brazilian MPB artist. One of his most famous songs is "Salão de Beleza", which was featured on Putumayo World Music's Reggae Around the World compilation. Along with being a solo artist, he has also worked with guitarist Pedro Joia....

, a Música Popular Brasileira
Música Popular Brasileira
Música Popular Brasileira or MPB designates a trend in post-Bossa Nova urban popular music. It is not a discrete genre but rather a constellation that combines original songwriting and updated versions of traditional Brazilian urban music styles like samba and samba-canção with contemporary...

 (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 the centre of a French colony named Equinoctial France. They built a fort named Saint Louis after St Louis, King of France
Louis IX of France
Louis IX , commonly Saint Louis, was King of France from 1226 until his death. He was also styled Louis II, Count of Artois from 1226 to 1237. Born at Poissy, near Paris, he was an eighth-generation descendant of Hugh Capet, and thus a member of the House of Capet, and the son of Louis VIII and...

, as a compliment to his successor King Louis XIII
Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1610 to 1643.Louis was only eight years old when he succeeded his father. His mother, Marie de Medici, acted as regent during Louis' minority...

. The settlement was conquered for Portugal by Jerônimo de Albuquerque in 1615, when it was renamed São Luís. There had been 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, whether by the French or the Portuguese. In 1641, the city was invaded by the Dutch
Dutch Brazil
Dutch Brazil, also known as New Holland, was the northern portion of Brazil, ruled by the Dutch during the Dutch colonization of the Americas between 1630 and 1654...

. 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 were kept too busy with the challenges to their occupation. In 1677, the city was made the seat of the new Roman Catholic Diocese of São Luís do Maranhão
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of São Luís do Maranhão
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of São Luís do Maranhão is an archdiocese located in the city of São Luís do Maranhão in Brazil.-History:* August 30, 1677: Established as Diocese of São Luís do Maranhão from the Diocese of Olinda...


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
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

. Conflicts amongst the local elites would lead to the Beckman's Revolt.

Soon after the outbreak of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, the region started to provide cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

 to Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

. The wealth generated by this activity was used to modernize the city; to bring religious men to come and teach in its schools; and supplement the water supply. The city came to be the third most populous city in the country. By the end of the 19th century, agriculture was in decay and since then the city's population has been searching for other ways to make a living.

Nowadays, São Luís has the largest and best preserved heritage of colonial Portuguese architecture of all Latin America. The island is known as the "Island of Love" and as "the Brazilian Athens", due to its many poets and writers, such as Sotero dos Reis, Aluísio Azevedo
Aluísio Azevedo
Aluísio Tancredo Gonçalves de Azevedo was a Brazilian novelist, caricaturist, diplomat, playwright and short story writer. Initially a Romantic writer, he would later adhere to the Naturalist movement...

, Graça Aranha
Graça Aranha
José Pereira da Graça Aranha was a Brazilian writer and diplomat, considered to be a forerunner of the Modernism in Brazil. He was also one of the organizers of the Brazilian Modern Art Week of 1922....

, Gonçalves Dias (the most famous), Josué Montello, Ferreira Gullar
Ferreira Gullar
Ferreira Gullar is the pen name for José Ribamar Ferreira , Brazilian poet, playwright, essayist, art critic, and television writer...

, among others.

The ancestral composition of São Luís, according to an autosomal DNA study, is 42% European, 39% Native American and 19% African.


Maranhão's economy
An economy consists of the economic system of a country or other area; the labor, capital and land resources; and the manufacturing, trade, distribution, and consumption of goods and services of that area...

 was one of the most prosperous country until the mid-nineteenth century. However, after the Civil War the United States of America, when he lost space in the export of cotton, the state has collapsed, only after the end of the 1960s in the twentieth century the state began to receive incentives and emerged from seclusion, with road and rail connections with other regions.

In the late eighteenth century, increased international demand for cotton to meet the English textile industry coupled with reduced production because of the North American War of Independence in the United States provided the perfect setting to stimulate cotton production in Maranhão. Shipping companies and Southampton & Company Maranha Maranha Shipping Company, shipping steam, which performed the transportation of cotton from the states of Georgia and Alabama, began operating in St. Louis shaft - London, leading to production of Caxias and Baixada Maranhão. By the early twentieth century, St. Louis still exporting cotton to England by sea, through the lines and Booth Red Cross Line Line (the extended route to Iquitos) and company-Maranha Liverpool Shipping Company.

During this period, the golden phase of the economy of Maranhão, São Luís has a living cultural effervescence. The city, which related more to the European capitals that the other Brazilian cities, was the first company to receive an Italian opera. Had as few sidewalks and lighting in the country. Received weekly the latest news from French literature. The great fortunes cotton and local business sent their children to study in Recife
Recife is the fifth-largest metropolitan area in Brazil with 4,136,506 inhabitants, the largest metropolitan area of the North/Northeast Regions, the 5th-largest metropolitan influence area in Brazil, and the capital and largest city of the state of Pernambuco. The population of the city proper...

, Salvador
Salvador, Bahia
Salvador is the largest city on the northeast coast of Brazil and the capital of the Northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. Salvador is also known as Brazil's capital of happiness due to its easygoing population and countless popular outdoor parties, including its street carnival. The first...

, Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

 and, especially, Europe.

The opening of the Port of Itaqui in St. Louis, currently second in depth in the world, second only to the Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and one of the busiest in the country, served to drain the industrial production and iron ore coming from Train Serra dos Carajás, activity operated by Companhia Vale do Rio Doce. The proximity to strategic markets in Europe and North America has led the Port an attractive option to export, but suffers from increased coastal shipping.
Ludovicense economy is based on the aluminum processing industry, food, tourism and services. St. Louis has the largest GDP in the state, hosting two public universities (and UFMA UEMA) and various educational institutions and private colleges. According to the latest data from the IBGE survey of the city of St. Louis has a GDP of R $ 9,340,944,000.00 to 29 and thus the national economy from over 5,560 Brazilian municipalities, and occupying the 14th position among the capitals.


The city of São Luís experiences a humid equatorial climate with a short dry season (Koppen Am) from August to November. During this period when the equatorial rainband associated with the highly seasonalized positioning of the ITCZ is not over the city, warm to hot temperatures and abundant equatorial sunshine prevail. Conversely, the humid, rainy wet season dominates the remaining majority of the year, with abundant cloud cover prevelant and heavy rains falling from December to July, with the heaviest rainfall and highest cloud cover from January to May. The cloudiest month of the year is March with a daily average of 3.5 hours of bright sunshine throughout the month, while the sunniest month of the year is August with a daily average of 8.4 hours of sunshine throughout the month. The wettest month is April with an average monthly total of 473 mm (18.62 in) of precipitation, while the driest months are both October and November for they both share an identical monthly average precipitation total of 11 mm (0.433070866141732 in).


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
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....


Educational institutions

  • Universidade Federal do Maranhão (UFMA);
  • Universidade Estadual do Maranhão (UEMA);
  • Centro de Ensino Universitário do Maranhão (UNICEUMA);
  • Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia do Maranhão (IFMA);
  • Faculdade São Luís;
  • Unidade de Ensino Superior Dom Bosco (UNDB);
  • Faculdade Atenas Maranhense (FAMA);
  • and many others.


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 clad 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 Candomblé
Candomblé is an African-originated or Afro-Brazilian religion, practised chiefly in Brazil by the "povo de santo" . It originated in the cities of Salvador, the capital of Bahia and Cachoeira, at the time one of the main commercial crossroads for the distribution of products and slave trade to...


Bumba Meu Boi

The Bumba Meu Boi
Bumba Meu Boi
Bumba Meu Boi is a Brazilian folk theatrical tradition - the tale told through the music, the costumes and drumming involves a Bull, which dies and is brought back to life...

 is 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. 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 costumes, choreography and music - all performed amongst the 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 João and its requisite Forró
Forró is a kind of Northeastern Brazilian dance as well as a word used to denote the different genres of music which accompanies the dance. Both are much in evidence during the annual Festa Junina , a part of Brazilian traditional culture which celebrates some Catholic saints...

 dance in the North-Eastern states further south Bumba Meu Boi is a harvest festival but with the bull as its centre-piece.


The São Luís form of capoeira
Capoeira is a Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, sports, and music. It was created in Brazil mainly by descendants of African slaves with Brazilian native influences, probably beginning in the 16th century...

 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.

Historical Center

In 1997 the city's historical center was made a UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

. Starting in 1989 there has been an extensive program to restore and renovate the colonial era buildings of the city's historical center.


There are 184 bus lines operating in the metropolitan area, forming a fleet of more than 3.000 buses. More than 500.000 people use the bus system every day.The price of bus fares vary according to the erea of the city. the collection is divided into levels.
  • Level 1: R$ 1,30

  • Level 2: R$ 1,60

  • Level 3: R$: 2,10

Students pay half the fare and elders are free of charge. On Sundays only be charged half the price of the weekdays.

Bus companies
  • Taguatur

  • Santa Clara

  • Expresso Tapajós (Tapajos Express)

  • Viação Abreu

  • Viação Primor

  • TCM - Transportes Coletivos Maranhense (public transportation Maranhão)

  • Menino Jesus de Praga


  • Mouraújo

  • Transportes Marina

  • Solemar Expresso (Solemar Express)

  • 1001 Expresso (1001 Express, Solemar express Group)

  • São Benedito

  • Empresa Gonçalves

  • Litoral

  • Viação Pelé

  • Empresa São Marcos

  • Transrequinte

  • Viação Norte Brasileiro

  • Viação Pericumã

  • Viatur (Executive lines)

Alternative Transportation

The metropolitan area has a network of alternative transportation that works with drivers who usually have their own coach and organize themselves into cooperatives to enable them to provide the public transport service duly legalized in the department of city traffic.


Sao Luis has a port that receives boats that carry passengers across to the city of Alcantara, which is located in the metropolitan area. It also has another port that receives ferries carrying people and cars that are destined for cities in the region of the state known as the low lands.


Being an island, the city has only one output ground, the bridge of the Estreito dos Mosquitos, which links the island of Sao Luis by road BR-135


  • TV Brasil São Luís (TV Brasil
    TV Brasil
    TV Brasil is a Brazilian non-profit public broadcasting television network launched on December 2, 2007 at noon. Although TV Cultura was the first public broadcasting channel in the country, TV Brasil is the first launched by the federal government.-History:...

    ) (former TVE MA or TV Educativa) - Channel 2
  • TV Difusora (SBT) - 4
  • TV Cidade (Rede Record
    Rede Record
    Rede Record de Televisão is a Brazilian television network, founded in 1953 by Paulo Machado de Carvalho, also founder of Rádio Record. Currently it is owned by businessman Edir Macedo, founder and bishop of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. Since 2007 it is Brazil's second largest...

    ) - 6
  • TV São Luís (RedeTV!) - 8
  • TV Mirante - (Rede Globo
    Rede Globo
    Rede Globo , or simply Globo, is a Brazilian television network, launched by media mogul Roberto Marinho on April 26, 1965. It is owned by media conglomerate Organizações Globo, being by far the largest of its holdings...

    ) - 10
  • TV Maranhense (former TV Praia Grande) (Rede Bandeirantes
    Rede Bandeirantes
    Rede Bandeirantes , officially nicknamed Band or Band Network, is a television network from Brazil, based in São Paulo. Part of the Grupo Bandeirantes de Comunicação , it aired for the first time in 1967...

    ) - 12
  • São Luís TV (MTV Brasil) - 18
  • Rede Internacional de Televisão
    Rede Internacional de Televisão
    Rede Internacional de Televisão better known as RIT is a Brazilian television religious channel, owned by Igreja Internacional da Graça de Deus, led by the missionary R. R. Soares. The programming of this channel is produced all ages, and the almost of his programming are produced by itself...

     - 20
  • Record News São Luís (Record News
    Record News
    Record News is the first 24-hour free-to-air terrestrial news channel in Brazil. It is owned by Rede Record.-History:In 1953, Rede Record de Televisão started as the second Brazilian TV channel . As the network completes 54 years, a new channel has been started by it. This is the first Brazilian...

    ) - 23
  • TV Educadora (Rede Vida - 26
  • TV Upaon-Açú - 28
  • Boas Novas São Luís - 31
  • TV Alternativa (Rede Gazeta
    Rede Gazeta
    Rede Gazeta, also known as TV Gazeta or only Gazeta is a Brazilian television network based in São Paulo.-History:TV Gazeta was founded in 1970 in São Paulo. It is part of Cásper Líbero Foundation...

    ) - 34 (signal from Paço do Lumiar
    Paço do Lumiar
    Paço do Lumiar is a town and municipality in the state of Maranhão in the Northeast region of Brazil.-References:...

  • TV Athenas (Rede 21
    Rede 21
    Rede 21 is a Brazilian television network, launched on October 21, 1996 , now as Canal 21, broadcasting only for São Paulo. Start to change to network in 2003 with the TV Brasília affiliation. Before this, Salvador and Macapá pass to have the 21 signal...

    ) - 39
  • TV Aparecida - 48
  • TV Nazaré - 53
  • TV Assembléia - 38 (TVN Cable Television)


  • AM:
    • 560 - Rádio Educadora (RCR SAT)
    • 600 - Rádio Mirante AM,
    • 680 - Rádio Difusora (Rede Aleluia)
    • 1180 - Rádio Capital
    • 1290 - Rádio Timbira
    • 1340 - Rádio São Luís AM (Jovem Pan Sat)

  • FM:
    • 94.3 - Rádio Difusora FM
    • 96.1 - Rádio Mirante FM
    • 99.1 - Rádio Cidade FM
    • 100.9 - Rádio Esperança FM (Rede Transmundial)
    • 102.5 - Rádio São Luís FM (Rede Jovem Pan 2FM)
    • 106.9 - Universidade FM.
    • 99.8 - Gurupi Alemanha


  • O Imparcial
  • O Estado do Maranhão
  • Jornal Pequeno
  • O Debate
  • O Correio de Notícias
  • Aqui Maranhão


  • Telephone
    • Oi
    • Embratel
      Embratel - Empresa Brasileira de Telecomunicações S.A. is a second major Brazilian telecommunications company headquartered in Rio de Janeiro. The company was the long distance arm of Telebras until it was bought by the U.S. company MCI Communications for 2.65 billion reais during the 1998...


  • Cellphone
    • Vivo S.A.
    • Tim
      Telecom Italia Mobile
      TIM is Telecom Italia's mobile phone brand, and runs a GSM, EDGE, UMTS and HSDPA network in Italy and Brazil.In Europe, TIM is part of the FreeMove alliance.TIM Peru was sold to América Móvil and rebranded Claro...

    • Claro
    • Oi
    • Amazom

External links

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