Just south of the bit of Brazil that juts out towards Africa is the northeastern State of Alagoas. Rather remote from the country's capital or the big cities of the South or Midlands, the area is none the less notable in many ways. To begin with, the State Capital is Maceio, a city becoming very prominent these days. Steady growth now means that the metropolitan area now has almost 1.2 million people. Actually the city's name, Maceio, comes from an old native word meaning 'courses of water from the land', some of which flow uninterrupted to the ocean, but some are obstructed and form lagoons (Lagoas). That all means that the city and the State it administers both have related 'watery' names, well in keeping with their geographical location! Today the built-up area is located between the Atlantic on one side and Lake Mundau on the other. Communications with other parts of the country (and the planet) have improved greatly in recent years, especially due to the new national/international airport at Zumbi dos Palmares. The city and its area became established in the nineteenth century as a centre for lumbering, sugar and tobacco.
Not only production of these but also shipment and export from the new port facilities. There were also refining and processing plants and factories. In addition a secondary but not insignificant trade in spices developed. In the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries the traditional industries of the area have been replaced or supplemented by new ones. These include a growing chemicals industry, many of whose products are supplied by the pumping facilities at the deep-level brine wells near the city. As well as this, ethanol is becoming a very important new by-product from the traditional sugar plantations in the hinterland. None of this of course detracts from the growing expansion of tourism in Maceio and its surroundings. Certain parts of the district are getting quite a cosmopolitan feel from all the foreign visitors (or even residents) from the USA, Argentina and Europe (particularly France, Germany and Italy). The city is well known and respected for its excellent Education. This includes a number of first-rate secondary schools plus of course five major universities / institutes of Higher Education including Universidade Federal de Alagoas (UFAL), Universidade Estadual de Alagoas (UNEAL) and Universidade de Ciencias da Saude de Alagoas (Uncisal). It's worth noting that although (of course) Portuguese is the main language of the country and the district, English and Spanish are increasingly featured in High Schools and colleges throughout the city.
The general prosperity of Maceio could be said to be in the middle ranges of 'per head' lifestyles of people in Brazil. The most recent data from this tropical metropolis seems to indicate that per capita income for residents averages around R$ 10,000. The local economy is successful enough to attract long term investment and also short term investment, both of them providing steady returns. The city is situated a fair distance from many other Brazilian centres. For example, the capital, Brasilia is over 2,000 Km away and Salvador more than six hundred. Recife, another important Northern city is two hundred and seventy kilometres from Maceio. Being so far away from other major cities has always caused the city to be a little behind with respect to new technology, new ideas and government programmes, and whilst other major Brazilian cities have been enjoying the benefits of the Minha Casa Minha Vida affordable housing programme since 2009/10, Maceio has been eagerly waiting for the programme to launch in the city, That wait now seems to be finally over as not one but two major minha casa minha vida developers announced plans this week to construct qualifying developments in and around the city.