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Piauí (formerly Piauhy), a state covering 96,886 square miles on the northeastern coast of Brazil between Ceará and Maranhão. Its capital is Teresina. The majority of its 3,006,885 people (2000 est.) are of mixed European and Indian descent, but there are also some who are part African, particularly in the coastal area.

Settlement of the area began in the 1600s as cattle ranching expanded into the backlands. A subordinate captaincy of Maranhão since 1718, Piauí became an independent captaincy in 1811, a province of the empire in 1822, and a state of the republic in 1889. Its capital was moved from Oeiras to Teresina in 1852. A major route for cattle drives to the Recôncavo (Bahia) and to Pernambuco passed through the region, contributing to the area's colonial role as a hub of internal communications in northern Brazil.

Ranching continues to play an important part in the state's economy, along with the cultivation and processing of cotton, manioc, wax from carnauba and babassu palm trees, and other agricultural products. Piauí is one of the country's poorest states and suffers from high infant mortality and inadequate medical care.

See alsoBrazil, Geography .


Carvalho Gonçalves, Wilson. Roteiro cronológico da história do Piauí: 1535–1995. Teresina, Brazil: Gráfica e Editora Júnior, 1996.

de Alburqueque Bastos, Cláudio, and Adrião Neto. Diccionario histórico e geográfico do Estado do Piauí. Teresina, Brazil: Fundação Cultural Monsenhor Chaves-PMT, 1994.

Sousa Brito, Itamar. História dos batistas no Piauí 1904–2004: Um século de lutas e vitórias. Rio de Janeiro: JUERP, 2003.

                                        Cara Shelly