Amapá is the northernmost of Brazil’s coastal states, bordering French Guiana and Suriname.
Spotted by Spanish caravels in the 1500s, the area now known as Amapá has, at different times, been colonized by the Spanish, the English, the Dutch, the French and, of course, the Portuguese, for a period being known as Portuguese Guiana, up until around the 1950s. It was only established as a Brazilian state in 1943, making it one the newest additions to this list.
It has the second most officially protected areas of conservation in Brazil – 19 in total. Amapá has a variety of ecosystems, from ancient mangroves to dense, tropical rainforests, as well as large field susceptible to seasonal flooding and cerrado tropical savanna. Most of the state is contained by the Guiana Shield.
Migration to the state has increased in recent times thanks to the region’s economic growth. Many immigrants make their way over from neighbouring French Guiana – mostly from the municipality of Oiapoque – as well as from further afield in Brazil, in particular from states such as Minas Gerais, Goiás, Paraná, Pará, Ceará and Maranhão.
Culturally, Amapá can be strongly likened to the rich cultural traditions of the Amazon rainforest, mixing together indigenous, African and Portuguese heritage.
Attractive tourist attractions include a trip to the Serra do Navio on the old railway, which permits a very special view of the Amazonian vegetation and fauna.
Macapá, the capital, is the only place in Brazil’s vast north which comes into contact with the immense Amazon River, and in March and September it is a great spot to witness the equinox (a moment when the earth’s two hemispheres have an equal amount of light and dark, with exactly 12 hours for each).
Another famous natural phenomenon worth seeing in Amapá is the Pororoca, which is the coming together of ocean water with that from the rivers, and sees the creation of waves up to 5m in height. These locations, such as the Canal do Inferno da Ilha de Maracá, are hugely popular with daredevil surfers.
Thanks to its fascinating natural wonders, Amapá is one of Brazil’s least known and most underrated states, with plenty to offer.
Area (km2): 142,828.521
Population: 766,679 (2015)
Term for a person from this state: amapense
Dial code: 96
Bordering states: Pará