In the interior of the State, another important city is Campina Grande. It is one of the Brazilian capitals of forró, together with Caruaru, and during the month of June it receives more than one million tourists for the festivities.
The area soon proved perfect for sugar production, with the French, the Dutch and the Portuguese all constantly fighting to control the Paraíba region to grow the lucrative sugarcane in. The fortress of Santa Catarina, near João Pessoa, was built to protect the city from the Dutch, who soon became a threat to Portuguese supremacy in Brazil.
In late 1989 a team led by gemstone prospector Heitor Dimas Barbosa uncovered in a small mountain range what some consider to be the finest tourmaline crystals ever found. A trace of copper gives the tourmalines a vivid turquoise color that had never been seen before in the gems, and is sometimes referred to as "neon".
The "neon" paraiba tourmaline, a vivid blue and blue green, has also been found in other deposits close to the Batalha mine of Barbosa, and also in the neighboring state of Rio Grande do Norte. The bright colors of this tourmaline are due to the presence of copper. Around 2000, a similar copper-containing tourmaline was found in Nigeria, although the colors are not as intense. Around 2005, beautiful crystals of copper-containing tourmaline were found in Mozambique.
Initially, the nomenclature for this tourmaline was "Paraíba tourmaline". Note the capitalization and the accent on the "i". In 2006, the LMHC (Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee) agreed that "paraiba" should refer to a variety of tourmaline, and not indicate a geographic origin. Note "paraiba" is not capitalized, and does not have an accent on the "i". For more information on paraiba tourmaline, see article on tourmaline. The term "paraiba tourmaline" may now refer to gems found in Brazil, Nigeria, and Mozambique that contain copper and have the characteristic blue-green color.
According to the IBGE of 2007, there were 3,628,000 people residing in the state. The population density was 64.2 inh./km².
The last PNAD (National Research for Sample of Domiciles) census revealed the following numbers: 2,136,000 Pardo (Brown) people (58.9%), 1,360,000 White people (37.5%), 123,000 Black people (3.4%), 7,000 Asian or Amerindian people (0.2%).
The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 56.5%, followed by the industrial sector at 33.1%. Agriculture represents 10.4%, of GDP (2004). Paraíba exports: woven of cotton 36.3%, footweares 20.1%, sugar and alcohol 10.8%, fish and crustacean 9.7%, sisal 7%, cotton 6.6% (2002).
Share of the Brazilian economy: 0.8% (2004).
The Paraíba economy is largely based upon the making of shoes and other leather products, the raising of cattle for beef, and sugarcane, corn. Though historically sugarcane has dominated the Paraíba agricultural sector, pineapple, corn, and beans cultivation are also widespread. The other important economical sector in the state is tourism, especially the state urban and unspoilt beaches, ecoturism and festivals such as "carnaval" and "São João."
Festa Junina was introduced to Northeastern Brazil by the Portuguese for whom St John's day (also celebrated as Midsummer Day in several European countries), on the 24th of June, is one of the oldest and most popular celebrations of the year. Differently, of course, from what happens on the European Midsummer Day, the festivities in Brazil do not take place during the summer solstice but during the tropical winter solstice. The festivities traditionally begin after the 12th of June, on the eve of St Anthony's day, and last until the 29th, which is Saint Peter's day. During these fifteen days, there are bonfires, fireworks, and folk dancing in the streets (step names are in French, which shows the mutual influences between court life and peasant culture in the 17th, 18th, and 19th-century Europe). Once exclusively a rural festival, today in Brazil, it is largely a city festival during which people joyfully and theatrically mimic peasant stereotypes and clichés in a spirit of jokes and good times. Typical refreshments and dishes are served. It should be noted that, like during Carnival, these festivities involve costume-wearing (in this case, peasant costumes), dancing, heavy drinking, and visual spectacles (fireworks display and folk dancing), such as what happens on Midsummer and St John's Day in Europe,and bonfires are a central part of these festivities in Brazil.
Located in the municipality of Bayeux, eight kilometers from downtown João Pessoa, Presidente Castro Pinto International Airport is currently undergoing expansion and remodeling work, which will raise the terminal’s annual capacity to 860 thousand passengers. The airport is well located in relation to obstacles because it covers an area roughly 65 meters above sea level and is sufficiently distant from urban areas or large real estate developments. The surrounding area is sparsely populated, with large open spaces. The existing developments are industrial with some small weekend country houses. There is no rough terrain or tall buildings nearby creating obstacles for takeoffs and landings. The airport also is blessed with excellent climatic conditions for air operations. Moreover, within its approach radius there are no obstacles that can hinder or create risk for local air traffic. Named for a past president (former name for governors) of Paraíba, Castro Pinto, the airport operates round the clock. The current passenger terminal, built in an area of 8,947.72 square meters, has two levels, gardens and ample vehicle parking. It has all the expected amenities: arrival and departure lounges, a main concourse, check-in counters, baggage storage lockers, airline counters, snack bar/restaurant, tourist information booth, car rental agencies, taxi service and private parking.
Located in the interior of the state of Paraíba, in the city of Campina Grande, João Suassuna Airport was remodeled in 2003, receiving a new terminal with capacity of 250 thousand passengers a year. The old building was demolished and on the site a new facility was built holding nine shops, the main concourse, arrival and departure lounges, VIP lounge, bathrooms, mezzanine and a diaper-changing area. The terminal area was increased to 2,500 square meters. The boarding area has 350 square meters and the parking lot has spaces for 180 cars. This expansion benefited the city both economically and from the standpoint of tourism. With the possibility for new flights, the air cargo movement will be able to grow, along with the number of tourists coming to attend the city’s famous São João Festival. A panel measuring 17 by 3.5 meters in the front of the building carries a poem by the Paraíban writer Ariano Suassuna, in homage to his father, for whom the airport is named. Three more artworks are on permanent display in the passenger terminal.
According to the official government site of the state of Paraíba, the red stands for the blood due to the assassination of João Pessoa; the black represents the mourning following the assassination. Some associate the colors with communism and anarchism, but this interpretation does not find echoes in Paraíba's history.
Paraíba is home to some of the most noted Brazilian poets and writers such as Augusto dos Anjos (1884-1908), José Américo de Almeida (1887-1980), José Lins do Rego (1901-1957) and Pedro Américo (1843-1905) (mostly known for his historical paintings). No estado surgiram notáveis poetas e escritores brasileiros: Augusto dos Anjos (1884-1908), José Américo de Almeida,born in Areia (1887-1980), Member of Academia Brasileira de Letras e José Lins do Rego (1901-1957), Member of Academia Brasileira de Letras.
Below is a gallery of a few of people from the state of Paraíba (called "paraibanos") who have impacted in diverse fields, ranging from the arts, to culture, politic, and science.