World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

São Luís, Maranhão

São Luís
The Municipality of
São Luís do Maranhão
Flag of São Luís
Coat of arms of São Luís
Coat of arms
Location of São Luís
Location of São Luís
São Luís is located in Brazil
São Luís
Location in Brazil
Country  Brazil
Region Northeast
State Maranhão
Founded September 8, 1612
 • Mayor Edivaldo Holanda Júnior (PTC)
 • Municipality 827.141 km2 (319.360 sq mi)
Elevation 4 m (12 ft)
Population (2010 IBGE)
 • Municipality 1,011,943
 • Density 1,183.4/km2 (3,064.9/sq mi)
 • Metro 1,227,659
Time zone UTC-3 (UTC-3)
Postal Code 65000-000
Area code(s) +55 98
Website São Luís, Maranhão

São Luís (Portuguese pronunciation: , Saint Louis) is the capital and largest city of the Brazilian state of Maranhão. The city is located on Ilha de São Luís (Saint Louis' Island) in the Baía de São Marcos (Saint Mark's Bay), an extension of the Atlantic Ocean which forms the estuary of Pindaré, Mearim, Itapecuru 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 estimate). The metropolitan area totals 1,227,659, ranked as the 16th largest in Brazil.

São Luís, created originally as Saint-Louis, is the only Brazilian state capital founded by France (see France Équinoxiale) and it is one of the three Brazilian state capitals located on islands (the others are Vitória and Florianópolis).

The city has two major sea ports: Madeira Port and Itaqui Port, through which a substantial part of Brazil's iron ore, originating from the (pre)-Amazon region, is exported. The city's main industries are metallurgical with Alumar, and VALE. São Luís is home of the Federal University of Maranhão.

São Luís was the home town of famous Brazilian samba singer Alcione, Brazilian writers Aluísio Azevedo, Ferreira Gullar and Josué Montello, Belgian-naturalised soccer player Luís Oliveira, and the musician João do Vale and Zeca Baleiro, a Música popular brasileira (MPB) singer.


  • History 1
  • Economy 2
  • Climate 3
  • Education 4
  • Culture 5
    • Tambor de Crioula 5.1
    • Tambor de Mina 5.2
    • Bumba Meu Boi 5.3
    • Capoeira 5.4
    • Historical center 5.5
  • Transportation 6
  • Telecommunications 7
  • Sports 8
  • Notable residents 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


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 center of a colony named Equinoctial France. They built a fort named Saint-Louis de Maragnan after King Louis XIII and his Saintly ancestor Louis IX. 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, a fact which 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, who left in 1645. In 1677, the city was made the seat of the new Roman Catholic Diocese of São Luís do Maranhão.

View of São Luís, c. 1665

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. Conflicts amongst the local elites would lead to the Beckman's Revolt. This started due the struggle between jesuits and landowners, the first against the Indian slavery and the others against the unfair treatment given by the Portuguese authorities; the situation lead to an uprising against the Portuguese, led by the brothers Manuel and Tomás Beckman and lasted till the intervention of Portuguese troops under the command of the general Gomes Freire de Andrade. After few skirmishes, the rebels were defeated and the Beckman brothers arrested and, after a brief trial, were hanged, drawn and quartered. The last words of Manuel Beckman at the gallows were "Pelo Povo do Maranhão morro contente" ("By the Maranhão people I die happy"). The phrase decorates the main hall of State Council Building.

Soon after the outbreak of the American Civil War, the region started to provide cotton to Great Britain. 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, Graça Aranha, Gonçalves Dias (the most famous), Josué Montello, Ferreira Gullar, among others.

The ancestral composition of São Luís, according to an autosomal DNA study, is 42% European, 39% Native American and 19% African.[1]


Colares Moreira Avenue.

Maranhão's economy was one of the most prosperous in the country until the mid-nineteenth century. However, after the Civil War the United States of America, when it lost space in the export of cotton, the state collapsed. Only after the end of the 1960s did the state begin to receive incentives and emerge from seclusion, by way of 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, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro 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 tropical monsoon 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 Intertropical Convergence Zone 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 prevalent 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 monthly average of 107.2 hours of bright sunshine throughout the month, while the sunniest month of the year is August with a monthly average of 260.3 hours of sunshine throughout the month. The wettest month is April with an average monthly total of 476 mm (18.74 in) of precipitation, while the driest month is October with an average total of average precipitation total of 8 mm (0.31 in).

Climate data for São Luís (1961–1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 33.6
Average high °C (°F) 30
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.1
Average low °C (°F) 23.5
Record low °C (°F) 20
Average rainfall mm (inches) 244.2
Average rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 13 17 23 22 20 13 10 4 2 1 1 4 130
Average relative humidity (%) 85 88 89 90 89 86 86 84 81 81 79 71 84.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 152.6 113.7 107.2 113.7 162.6 213.1 237.6 260.3 249.9 251.8 244.1 206.3 2,312.9
Source: Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology (INMET).[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]


São Luís is the most important educational centre of the state.

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 curriculum.

Educational institutions include:

  • Universidade Federal do Maranhão (UFMA)
  • Universidade Estadual do Maranhão (UEMA)
  • Faculdade Santa Terezinha (CEST)
  • 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)


UNESCO World Heritage Site
Historic Centre of São Luís
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, iv, v
Reference 821
UNESCO region Latin America and the Caribbean
Inscription history
Inscription 1997 (21st Session)

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.

Bumba Meu Boi

The Bumba Meu Boi 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 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 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 World Heritage Site. Starting in 1989 there has been an extensive program to restore and renovate the colonial era buildings of the city's historical center.


A bus in the suburb of São Luís.

The city is served by the Marechal Cunha Machado International Airport.

There are 184 bus lines operating in the metropolitan area, served by a fleet of more than 3,000 buses. More than 500,000 people use the bus system every day. 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.

The city has also an efficient radio system with more than 2000 taxi cabs accredited.

Sao Luis is home to 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.


Local area phone code (named DDD in Brazil) to call São Luis city is 98 (DDD98).[11]


Football is the most popular sport in São Luís, though its clubs aren't much well known in the rest of Brazil. The professional clubs in São Luís are: Sampaio Corrêa who currently play in Brazil's second division, Moto Club who play in the fourth division and Maranhão Atlético Clube who take part in the regional Campeonato Maranhense.

Notable residents


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Temperatura Média Compensada (°C)" (in Portuguese). Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology. 1961–1990. Archived from the original on May 4, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Temperatura Máxima (°C)" (in Portuguese). Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology. 1961–1990. Archived from the original on May 4, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Temperatura Mínima (°C)" (in Portuguese). Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology. 1961–1990. Archived from the original on May 4, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Precipitação Acumulada Mensal e Anual (mm)" (in Portuguese). Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology. 1961–1990. Archived from the original on May 4, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Número de Dias com Precipitação Maior ou Igual a 1 mm (dias)". Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology. Archived from the original on May 4, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Insolação Total (horas)". Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology. Archived from the original on May 4, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Umidade Relativa do Ar Média Compensada (%)". Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology. Archived from the original on May 4, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Temperatura Máxima Absoluta (ºC)". Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology (Inmet). Archived from the original on June 21, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Temperatura Mínima Absoluta (ºC)". Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology (Inmet). Archived from the original on June 21, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  11. ^ "São Luis do Maranhao, DDD98 area phone code". Retrieved December 12, 2012. 

External links

  • Official city site
  • Aerial pictures from the City of Sao Luis made with powered paraglider

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.