region of Brazil, composed of nine states
South America > Brazil > Northeast (Brazil)

Whereas elegant Rio de Janeiro and cosmopolitan São Paulo may be the best-known places in Brazil, the Northeast, or Nordeste is one of the liveliest - a land of sunny beaches, colonial towns, vibrating street parties, music and friendly people.

Rooftops in historic Olinda

States

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Nine states comprise the Northeast region, counting along the coast from the south:

Despite being grouped together, culturally and geographically speaking some of those states can be very far apart from each other.

Cities

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  • 1 Fortaleza - the pleasant capital of Ceará and close to several spectacular beaches
  • 2 João Pessoa - the capital of Paraíba, with the easternmost point in the Americas
  • 3 Juazeiro do Norte - One of Brazil's most famous pilgrimage sites, located in rural Ceará.
  • 4 Maceio - the beautiful capital city of Alagoas, known as the "Waters' Paradise"
  • 5 Natal - Founded on the 25th of December (Natal means Christmas in Portuguese), and the capital of Rio Grande do Norte
  • 6 Recife - Nicknamed "The Brazilian Venice", it is built on several islands linked by many bridges. Rich in history, art and folklore. Do not miss neighboring Olinda and Porto de Galinhas. The city is also a gateway to the amazing archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.
  • 7 Salvador (Salvador da Bahia) - the capital of Bahia, rich in African influence and colonial architecture
  • 8 São Luís - a major city, capital of Maranhão and halfway between Amazon and Northeast.
  • 9 Teresina - Considered by some to be the hottest city in Brazil, it is the capital of Piauí and a gateway to exploring the pre-historic remains in Serra da Capivara.

Other destinations

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The Pati Valley, in Chapada Diamantina National Park

Understand

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Fernando de Noronha

The Northeast is the sunniest of Brazilian regions. Although this may mean long periods of drought for the mainly agricultural inland of some states (and thus crop losses and widespread poverty), the climate also provides almost year-round opportunities for beach-going and other outdoor activities. Long favoured by Brazilian holiday makers, the Northeast has also become increasingly popular with European travellers, especially from Portugal, Spain and Italy due to language and cultural similarities.

The region was also the original site of European colonization in Brazil. The first Europeans landed in Bahia, set up the country's first capital in Salvador, and over the next centuries brought millions of slaves from Africa to the region. Added to the indigenous population, the result is a fascinating rich cultural mix that makes up some often unknown faces of Brazilian culture.

Talk

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  • oxente (oh shench) or oxe (oshe) :Sounds like "Oh Shit", but actually it is an interjection. It can mean admiration, surprise or a misunderstanding.
vôte
a surprise.
quengo
head
frango
homosexual (only in Pernambuco)
butico
butt

Get in

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The largest airports are Salvador, Recife and Fortaleza, which provide easy access to most of Brazil. Some international flights too, but nothing compared to Rio or São Paulo. The international airport NAT IATA in Natal receives domestic flights, and a flight from Lisbon (as of March 2021).

Get around

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Local dishes

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  • Buchada de Bode: made with the white entrails of a goat, with rice and farofa on the side. Not for the weak of stomach, this is considered a dish of national pride.
  • Carne de Sol (sun-dried meat): beef jerky, a very traditional cearense food item, eaten in a wide array of styles, often splashed with clarified butter
  • Escondidinho: dish of shredded beef jerky (or shredded chicken breast, or shrimps) topped with mashed cassava, seasoned with clarified butter and gratin with coalho cheese
  • Macaxeira frita: cassava fries, frequently enjoyed as a late night snack
  • Moqueca: seafood stew made with coconut milk
  • Rapadura: brick of dried raw garapa (sugarcane juice). Very caloric and durable and portable and rich in vitamin C. Traditional cowboy fare
  • Sarapatel: made with the red entrails and blood of a goat or pig. Another dish not for the weak of stomach.

Local beverages

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  • Açaí: thick creamy purple juice from the grated fruit of the açaí palm (Euterpe oleracea); particularly tasty when served with crushed cashew nuts (castanha de caju), whipped with banana and honey.
  • Cajuína: delicious clarified juice from the pulpy part of the cashew fruit, sold in glass bottles

Drink

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Stay safe

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Go next

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This region travel guide to Northeast is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!