PERNAMBUCO, a north-eastern state of Brazil, bounded N. by Ceara and Parahyba, E. by the Atlantic, S. by Alagoas and Bahia, and W. by Piauhy. Area, 49,573 sq. m.; pop. (1900), 1,178,150. It comprises a comparatively narrow coastal zone, a high inland plateau, and an intermediate zone formed by the terraces and slopes between the two. Its surface is much broken by the remains of the ancient plateau which has been worn down by erosion, leaving escarpments and ranges of flat-topped mountains, called chapadas, capped in places by horizontal layers of sandstone. Ranges of these chapadas form the boundary lines with three states the Serras dos Irmaos and Vermelha with Piauhy, the Serra do Araripe with Ceara, and the Serra dos Cariris Velhos with Parahyba. The coastal zone is low, well-wooded and fertile. It has a hot, humid climate, relieved to some extent by the south-east trade winds. This region is locally known as the mattas (forests). The middle zone, called the caatinga or agreste region, has a drier climate and lighter vegetation. The inland region, called the sertao, is high, stony, and dry, and frequently devastated by prolonged droughts (sdccas). The climate is characterized by hot days and cool nights, and is considered healthy, though the daily change tends to provoke bronchial, catarrhal and inflammatory diseases. There are two clearly defined seasons, a rainy season from March to June, and a dry season for the remaining months. The rivers of the state include a number of small plateau streams flowing southward to the Sao Francisco River, and several large streams in the eastern part flowing eastward to the Atlantic. The former are the Moxoto, Ema, Pajehu, Terra Nova, Brigida, Boa Vista and Pontal, and are dry channels the greater part of the year. The largest of the coastal rivers are the Goyanna, which is formed by the confluence of the Tracunhaem and Capibaribe-mirim, and drains a rich agricultural region in the north-east part of the state; the Capibaribe, which has its source in the Serra de Jacarara and flows eastward to the Atlantic at Recife with a course of nearly 300 m. ; the Ipojuca, which rises in the Serra de Aldeia Velha and reaches the coast south of Recife; theSerinhaen and the Una. A large tributary of the last the Rio Jacuhipe, forms part of the boundary line with Alagoas.
Pernambuco is chiefly agricultural, the lowlands being devoted to sugar and fruit, with coffee in some of the more elevated localities, the agreste region to cotton, tobacco, Indian corn, beans and stock, and the sertao to grazing and in some localities to cotton. Sugar, molasses, rum (aguardente or cachaqa), tobacco and fruit are largely exported. Coco-nuts, cacao, bananas, mangoes and other tropical fruits are produced in profusion, but the production of foodstuffs (beans, Indian corn, mandioca, etc.) is not sufficient for local consumption. Mangabeira rubber is collected to a limited extent, and piassava fibre is an artide of export. Orchids are also collected for export in the districts of Garanhuns and Timbauba. Cotton-weaving and cigar-making are the principal manufacturing industries, after the large engenhos devoted to the manufacture of sugar and rum. The rail ways of the state are the Recife and Sao Francisco (77 m.), Central de Pernambuco (132 m.) andSulde Pernambuco (120 m.) all government properties leased to the Great Western of Brazil Railway Co., Ltd., since 1901. Besides these there are the line from Recife to Limoeiro and Timbauba (112 m.), with an extension from Timbauba to Pilar (24 m.). All these lines concentrate at the port of Recife. The capital of the state is Recife, commonly known among foreigners as Pernambuco. There are a number of large towns in the state, but the census returns include their populations in those of the municipios (communes) to which they belong. The most important are: Bezerros (17,484), Bom Jardim (40,160), Brejo da Madre de Deus (13,655), a town of the higher agreste region, Cabo (13,337), Caruaru (17,844), Escada (9331), Garanhuns (32,788, covering six towns and villages), Gloria de Goyta (24,554), Goyanna, Limoeiro (21,576), Olinda (8080), the old colonial capital and episcopal see, Rio Formosa (6080), Timbauba (9514) and Victoria (32,422).
Pernambuco was first settled in 1526 by Christovao Jacques who founded a settlement on the Rio Iguarassu that was afterwards abandoned. The first permanent settlement was made by Duarte Coelho Pereira at Olinda in 1530, and four years later he was granted a capitania of 50 leagues extending from the mouth of the Sao Francisco northward to that of the Iguarassu. Adjacent to this grant on the north was the capitania of Itamaraca, granted to Pero Lopes de Souza, which covered the remainder of the present state. The capitania of Pernambuco was ably governed and took an active part in the expulsion of the French from the trading posts established along the coast northward to Maranhao, and in establishing Portuguese colonies in ' their places. In 1630 Pernambuco was occupied by the Dutch and continued under their rule until 1654. Although an active guerrilla warfare was waged against the Dutch during a large part of that period, they did much to promote the agricultural and commercial interests of the colony, especially under the wise administration of Maurice of Nassau. In 1817 Pernambuco was the scene of a revolutionary outbreak, which resulted in the separation of the present states of Alagoas and Rio Grande do Norte, Ceara and Parahyba having been detached in 1799. There'was another insurrection in 1822 when the Portuguese captain-general, Luiz de Rego, and his garrison was expelled, and in 1824 dissatisfaction with the arbitrary proceedings of Dom Pedro I. at Rio de Janeiro led to a separatist revolution for the formation of a new state, to be called the Federacao do Equador. There was another outbreak in 1831 and frequent disorders down to 1 848, when they culminated in another unsuccessful revolution. The population of the Pernambuco sertao has always been noted for its turbulent, lawless character, due partly to distance from the coast where the bulk of the population is concentrated, partly to difficult means of communication, and partly to the fact that this remote region has long been the refuge of criminals from the coast towns.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)