Situated at the southernmost part of the Northeast region of the country, Bahia is the Brazilian state with the most borders, and the longest coastline, with 900km of beaches.
It was here, between Santa Cruz de Cabrália and Porto Seguro, that Pedro Álvares Cabral and his fleet first laid anchor, in 1500, becoming the first Europeans to set foot on Brazilian soil.
The state has a colourful history, being the oldest Portuguese colony in the Americas, and between the 16th and 19thcenturies it received a huge influx of African slaves, who brought with them their cultures and traditions.
This vast heritage has left a rich cultural landscape, as the state is dotted with beautiful, old churches, museums and mansions. Salvador in particular is home to a number of centuries old attractions, such as the Farol da Barra and the Pelourinho, both of which have UNESCO World Heritage status.
A popular destination for thousands, looking for both leisure and adventure, Bahia is replete with a great variety of attractions. Natural beauty spots are spread throughout the state, in particular along its immense coastline. Three sections – the coasts of Descobrimento, Baleias and Coqueiros are real highlights.
The sublime beaches of Itacaré, Costa do Suaípe, Morro de São Paulo and Trancoso, with their resorts and B&Bs, are true oases of relaxation and appreciation of nature’s beauty. The Chapada Diamantina, one of Brazil’s main ecotourism destinations, is perfect for cave exploration and hiking.
Salvador comes into its own at the beginning of the year, when Carnival comes to town, and millions of revellers dance along with the trios elétricos – big trucks with speakers and musical performers on top, which drive around the city’s streets with the crown in tow, making one of the most famous carnivals in the world.
Baiana cuisine is strongly influenced by the state’s rich traditions. A baiana table will consist of acarajé, vatapá and many other famous and tasty dishes, flavoured with palm oil, washed down with a refreshing coconut water, which is embarrassingly easy to get hold of throughout the state.
In addition to the stunning beaches and cuisine, the contagious baiano way of life mixes together different influences in music, dance and religion, making Bahia one of Brazil’s most truly sensational states.
Area (km2): 564,733.177
Population: 15,203,934 (2015)
Term for a person from this state: baiano-baiana
Dial code: 71 / 77
Bordering states: Minas Gerais, Goiás, Tocantins, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, Piauí and Espírito Santo