Situated on the border with the northern region of Brazil, Maranhão is the Northeast’s second-biggest state. It has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the country, from tropical beaches to the Amazon rainforest, Cerrado, mangroves, open sea deltas, and the world’s only desert with thousands of crystalline lakes. It boasts both historic and adventure destinations, with stunning landscapes and varied culture.

In the capital, São Luís, one clearly notes the city’s French, Portuguese, and Dutch origins. Its Historical Centre, registered in 1997 as a UNESCO World Heritage site, contains roughly five thousand buildings dating back to the 17th century. The city of Alcântara lies a boat ride away from São Luís and is the most important old city in the Amazon region. Having once been home to barons, Alcântara retains hints of its glorious past.

For ecotourism, the highlight is the Lençois Maranhenses National Park, a true natural wonder with 155 thousand hectares of sand dunes that change in the wind. The lakes formed by rainfall are perfect for a quick dip. Another natural attraction, the Chapada das Mesas National Park, is a special collection of rock formations, canyons, caves, and waterfalls.

Maranhense cuisine is influenced by European, indigenous, and African seasonings, resulting in a unique mixture of flavours and recipes. The most famous dish is the arroz de cuxá, made with sweet and sour layers of rice, prawn, and sesame seeds, accompanied by other sea foods. Other popular dishes are caldeira de torta de camarão, sururu and caranguejo, peixada à base da nobre pescada, anchova na brasa and grilled prawn.

Highlights among sweets and desserts are those based on coconut, inherited from the Portuguese, and regional crystallised fruit desserts made from cashew, buriti, bacuri, jaca, and maranhense pineapple.

Anyone visiting the south of Maranhão will be impressed with the meat, particularly the carne-de-sol, which, when served with rice, becomes a delicious Maria Isabel. Another dish is the famous Guaraná Jesus, sweet and vibrant pink.

The capital São Luís is also a stage for cultural shows during the whole year, with festivals such as the Tambor-de-Crioula, IPHAN Brazilian Cultural Heritage, the Tambor de Mina, an African religious festival, Festa do Divino, where tributes are paid to the Holy Spirit and the Old Empire, the Bumba-Meu-Boi, a spectacularly colourful show of dance and rhythm, which brings out the best of Maranhão culture.

That’s Maranhão. It is A varied destination, combining cultural and natural attractions with its friendly and welcoming people, where originality and tradition come together on the streets, in the architecture and cuisine.

Frequently asked questions about Maranhão

Some of the most frequently asked questions about this wonderful destination

The capital of Maranhão is São Luís.
Maranhão has an area of 329,651.496 km².
In Maranhão, the population is 6,776,699 inhabitants (2022).
A person born in Maranhão is called "maranhense".
The dialing codes for Maranhão are 98 and 99.
Maranhão borders Pará, Tocantins and Piauí.

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