Land of the Caboclos
Known as the land of abolition - it was the first province of the Brazilian Empire to abolish slavery, in 1884, five years before the rest of the country - Ceará is the third largest economy in the North East Region of Brazil, behind Bahia and Pernambuco.
The capital, Fortaleza, has a modern architectural profile and is an important tourist centre.
Ceará has been on the fore on many occasions in Brazilian history. When it was still a captaincy, Jose Martiniano de Alencar proclaimed a republic. This provoked the wrath of the Portuguese Crown, which punished the leader of the rebellion. The inhabitants twice repelled Dutch invaders (1644 and 1654), who were responsible for founding Fortaleza.
Colonised by the Portuguese from the middle of the seventeenth century on, the local population took an active part in the struggle for Brazilian independence in 1822, and two years later joined the Confederation of the Equator, a rebellion inspired by republican ideals. In the reign of D. Pedro II the province achieved great progress with the coming of steamships, railways, gas lighting and the telephone.
The retail trade of the State is made up of 9,500 outlets. In agriculture, Ceará's principal products are rice, bananas, sugar cane, cashew nuts, coconuts, black beans and cassava. In recent decades, agriculture has become an important export industry, and the products exported are headed by cashew nuts. The State also exports fabrics, palm wax, cotton and polyester fibres, leather, skins, prawns, lobsters and tropical fruits, among other products. The arts and crafts industry is also important economically and provides a considerable number of jobs.
Ceará is the land of the Caboclos, descendants of interbreeding between Indians, Negros and Portuguese, and is one of the most important cultural poles of Brazil, marked by popular religious sentiment and by the presence of its intellectuals in the literature and art of the nation. From Ceará come the writers Jose de Alencar, one of the greatest Brazilian novelists from the so-called Indianist movement in Brazilian literature, and Rachel de Queiroz, an important name among regionalist writers.
Hot all the year round with a reasonable temperature at night, Ceará possesses a diversified ecosystem, made up of areas of caatinga (bush country), Atlantic Forest, scrub pasture and mangrove swamps. Besides industrial growth, the area that has developed most in the last two decades is tourism.
Blonde Bride of the Sun
The capital of Ceará possesses one of the largest and best-equipped networks of hotels and restaurants in the North East Region of Brazil. The Jangada is a kind of symbol of the city and lobster is one of its most typical dishes. The city has a hot climate and affords a warm reception to visitors, attracted mainly by the beauty of its beaches.
Beach Park at Ponta das Dunas is the largest beach aquatic park in South America. It is one of the most modern tourist centres in the North East, comprising an aquatic complex with waterbikes and other modern equipment for watersports.
Fortaleza is celebrated in verse and prose as the "blonde bride of the sun". The seashore, running the length of the city, has a variety of attractions. Iracema beach is a bohemian enclave, with dozens of all-night bars situated in buildings, which still retain the architectural features of the turn of the century. Its biggest attractions are the Estoril, which houses restaurants and an exhibition gallery, and the Ponte dos Ingleses, from which beautiful sunsets can be observed.
Mention should also be made of Meireles, Volta da Jurema and Mucuripe beaches, connected to each other by the Avenida Beira-Mar. Modern buildings, including hotels, bars and restaurants, which serve local cuisine and delicious seafood dishes, line this avenue. It is also worth seeing the statue of Iracema, a tribute to the Indian lady who became the eponymous heroine of the book by Jose de Alencar, an important novelist from Ceará who took part in the Indianist movement in literature. There is also the colony of fishermen at Mucuripe, with their jangadas, and Futuro beach, full of stalls where you can dance forro, one of the traditional rhythms of the North East Region.
Also worth seeing is the José de Alencar Theatre, constructed in the nineteenth century, whose rich architecture and internal ironwork is a mixture of the neoclassical and art nouveau styles; the Museums of Railway History, the Automobile, Popular Art and Mineralogy; and the Central Market, where you can buy anything from lace clothing to liqueurs, cachaças and cashew nuts.