Maranhão is a state in northeastern Brazil. Maranhão has the second longest coastline in the country, resulting in a great diversity of ecosystems. There are 640 km of tropical beaches, the Amazon rainforest, several varieties of cerrados, mangroves, delta in the open sea, dunes, the only desert in the world with thousands of lagoons with crystalline waters.
- 1 São Luís — capital and World Heritage city
- 2 Açailândia — Açaí-Folia - Micareta is the largest off-season carnival in the region and one of the largest in the state
- 3 Alcântara — a small colonial town that can be visited on a day trip from São Luís
- 4 Atins and Canto de Atins — a fishermen's village turned kitesurfing hotspot a few kilometres away from the dunes of Lençóis Maranhenses National Park
- 5 Balsas — a city focused on soybean production and reggae music
- 6 Barra do Corda — a city known for its carnival and spas
- 7 Barreirinhas — a base for visitors to Lençóis Maranhenses, its riverside setting and sandy patches gives it a charm of its own
- 8 Caburé — a tiny settlement between the river and the sea
- 9 Caxias — one of the largest economic centers in the state, and an important political, cultural and population centers in the state
- 10 Grajaú — attracts tourists to enjoy the Grajaú river's beautiful waterfalls and waters
- 11 Imperatriz — the starting point for ecological tourism in several places in the south and southwest of Maranhão
- 12 Mandacaru — this quick stop for daytrippers from Barreirinhas has a lighthouse to visit
- 13 Paulino Neves — provides access to Pequenos Lençóis and its brilliant white sand dunes
- 14 Santo Amaro do Maranhão — a good alternative to Barreirinhas for visiting the national park
- 15 Santa Inês — a city known for its beaches and lakes
- 16 Tutóia — a stopover between Lençóis Maranhenses and Parnaíba
- 1 Ilha do Caju — a private nature reserve
- 2 Ilha das Canárias — island a few kilometers from the main mouth of the river Parnaíba
- 3 Lençóis Maranhenses — stunning white sand dunes
Maranhão is second only to Bahia in terms of Afro-Brazilian culture, although it has an air of the Caribbean mixed in. This is especially noticeable in the unique reggae played here. Maranhão is one of the poorest states of Brazil. The predominant indigenous groups are from the Macro-Jê and Macro-Tupi language groups.
The first European settlement was made by a French trading expedition under Jacques Riffault of Dieppe, in 1594, who lost two of his three vessels in the vicinity of São Luís Island, and left a part of his men on that island when he returned home. Daniel de La Touche, Seigneur de La Rividière was sent to report on the place, and was then commissioned by the French crown to found a colony on the island; this was done in 1612. The French were expelled by the Portuguese in 1615, and the Dutch held the island from 1641 to 1644. Very successful Indian missions were soon begun by the Jesuits.
In the late 18th century, there was a great influx of enslaved peoples into the region, which corresponded to the increased cultivation of cotton. According to the historian Sven Beckert, the region's cotton exports "doubled between 1770 and 1780, nearly doubled again by 1790, and nearly tripled once more by 1800."
The climate is hot, and the year is divided into a wet and dry season. Extreme humidity characterizes the wet season. The heat, however, is greatly modified on the coast by the south-east trade winds.
Marechal Cunha Machado International Airport is 13 km from the center of São Luís.
Renato Moreira Airport is a national airport in Imperatriz.
Highways BR-010 and BR-230 cross the state.
The dunes of Lençóis Maranhenses National Park are an important area of environmental preservation.
The state capital, São Luís, is designated a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The historic center of Alcântara is also worth a visit.
The Parnaíba River delta, between the states of Maranhão and Piauí, is an important conservation area, with its lagoons, desert dunes and deserted beaches or islands, such as Ilha do Caju, which shelters rare birds.
The state has 640 km of coastline, which supplies products widely used in regional cuisine, such as shrimp, crab and sururu.
- Guarana Jesus - A soda that tastes like bubble gum.
Maranhão is considered an endemic area for sylvatic yellow fever. The traveler guidance service of the Brazilian health agency (agência de vigilância sanitária brasileira) recommends vaccination against the disease at least 10 days before visiting the state. The vaccine can be taken at health centers and at several airports, and immunization is valid for 10 years.