Economy of the Northeast Region of Brazil

The economy of the Northeast Region of Brazil is based on the sugar and cocoa agro-industry, practiced in large estates, plant and mineral extraction, industry and commerce, tourist activities, among others.

Offshore and on the continental shelf there is oil exploration, which is processed at the Landulfo Alves refinery (Landulpho Alves) in Salvador and the Camaçari petrochemical complex (BA).

The Northeast Region has the third largest economy in the country, behind the Southeast and South, respectively. It is in the Northeast that lives more than a quarter of the Brazilian population.

Landulfo Alves Refinery


In the Northeast Region, sugarcane agriculture is developed for sugar and ethanol production, in Zona da Mata, a region that extends in a coastal strip, which goes from Rio Grande do Norte to the south of Bahia, especially to the states of Alagoas, Pernambuco and Paraíba. The region was once the most important sugarcane producing area in the world and the main economic region of Brazil in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Corn, beans, coffee, cassava, coconut, cashews, bananas, sisal and algae crops predominate in several states. In the Middle North (Northeast West), where are the states of Maranhão and Piauí, is cut by several rivers, along which form great river plains, mainly used for rice cultivation.

Seaweed plantation (sisal species)

With the correction of the cerrado soil in southern Maranhão and southeastern Piauí, soybean crop develops. Bahia is the second national producer of orange and cotton in the country. It also stands out in soy production. Cotton is also grown in Ceará, Piaui, Rio Grande do Norte and Paraíba, which produces a naturally colored cotton.

Naturally colored cotton, considered the most innovative textile fiber in the country,
object of various academic studies and the admiration of designers.

Irrigated fruit farming, benefited by the tropical climate, is developed in the Açu River Valley, in Rio Grande do Norte, with large production of melon, watermelon, etc. In the Middle Valley of the São Francisco River, in the Sertão, mainly in the cities of Petrolina (PE) and Juazeiro (BA), grapes, mango, melon, pineapple, papaya, among other fruits are produced, which are sold to the domestic market and exported. , through Petrolina International Airport, to several countries.

Fruit produced in irrigated perimeters of the São Francisco and Parnaíba Valleys

Plant and mineral extraction

In addition to the already mentioned highlights in the extraction / production of oil, natural gas and babassu, the Northeast Region also stands out:

  • In the extraction of sea salt: Rio Grande do Norte produces 95% of the sea salt consumed in Brazil.

Sea Salt Industry

  • Gypsum production: Pernambuco is responsible for 95% of the total Brazilian plaster.

The State of Pernambuco annually produces 2.5 million tons of plaster

The northeast also has granite deposits, precious and semiprecious stones. The Itataia mine in Santa Quitéria, Ceará, has one of the largest uranium reserves in the world.

Access to Itataia Mine in Ceará (Brazil's uranium reserves)

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