Porto Seguro is a municipality in Southeastern Bahia, a NE Brazil state and one of the oldest settlements in Portuguese America. It is believed to be the site where Pedro Álvares Cabral, a Portuguese "discoverer" first set foot on while arriving in Brazil on April 22, 1500, as he and his crew supposedly sought another route to the East Indies. Other localities, such as Santa Cruz Cabralia and Coroa Vermelha dispute Porto Seguro's claim to being Brazil's "Terra Mater." Santa Cruz has even marked the site of the first Roman Catholic Mass worship service celebrated in then Ilha de Vera Cruz, --Truthful Cross Island-- which later had its name changed to Terra de Santa Cruz, --Holy Cross Land-- and finally Brazil, due to the abundance of Brazilwood, used by Europeans to die textile material. Regardless of the claims of each of the cities, together with the beach resorts of Trancoso, Arrail d'Ajuda, Porto Seguro, Coroa Vermelha, and Santa Cruz Cabralia make up the "Costa do Descobrimento" --Discovery Coast-- region of Bahia and Brasil. Brazil "was born" during the Easter Season. So, the choices of its previous names allude to the Passion of Jesus Christ and a Brazilian mountain first seen by Cabral from his ships was named after Easter, --Monte Pascoal-- as "Pascoa" means "Passover" and/or "Easter" in Portuguese. Porto Seguro was the busiest port of the developing Portuguese American colonies from 1500 into the early 1800s and it is now a major tourist destination, attracting a great number of adolescent travelers, especially those celebrating their proms. It is a party city with famous clubs lining up Taperapuan beach, the most popular. During Carnival season, "trio eletrico" floats parade in the Centro --downtown-- to the sounds of Axe' and other types of Bahian pop music the whole night, as revelers dance without stopping. The city also attracts events, such as Evangelical revival conferences, which, in an effort to outreach the tourists & the local population, also parades their Gospel music trio-eletrico float throughout the city around Easter. The region, and most of NE Brazil, have become popular with Europeans such as the Dutch, the French, the Italians, and the Portuguese, some of whom have purchased lands, houses, and apartment complexes. They seem to have been lured by the lavish Mata Atlantica vegetation, the emerald Bahian Atlantic Ocean coast, and the easy-going style of the locals, besides the all year-round warm weather. The Porto Seguro or Costa do Descobrimento area is the second most popular Bahian resort after the Salvador region, which became famous amongst Brazilian hippies and honeymooners from the 1970s on, having its peak between the late 1980's and mid 1990's when the late governor Antonio C. Magalhaes took advantage of Bahia's tourism potentials & improved services, even by installing an airport in a city which originally only had a few tens of thousands inhabitants. It soon attracted large numbers of hospitality service workers from neighboring towns as well as entrepreneurs from other states and countries such as Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, and a few from North America, particularly Brazilians who work in the United States & invest their money here. Notable among them, are Minas Gerais State individuals who immigrated to the Boston and New York City regions. A significant number of Bahian women who have married Italian and Swiss men have also purchased land and apartments in Porto Seguro, as they often relocate to their home land with their family or keep vacation homes in Porto Seguro.
Tourism has expanded fast in recent years and there is highly visible growth in Porto Seguro. What was once a small town of fewer than 10,000 people in the 1970s has become a city of over 100,000 people. One suburb on the southern bank of the Buranhem River, Arraial d'Ajuda, has grown from approximately 900 people in 1990 to 11,411 in 2005.
In 2003 there were 66,513 heads of cattle, of which 8,647 were milk cows. The main agricultural products were pineapple, sugarcane, manioc, banana, rubber (19.8 km² in 2003), cacau (6.4 km²), coffee, coconut (19.95 km²), guava, oranges, lemons, papaya (10 km²), passion fruit, and pepper.
Historical Downtown Area The historical site in the Cidade Alta area is a National Heritage Monument put under government trust by a Federal Decree since 1973. It was one of the first towns in Brazil and played an important role during the first years of European colonization. It includes three churches and around 40 buildings (among private residential houses and public institutions), restored by the State Government for the 500th anniversary celebration of Brazilian “discovery”. At night the whole area is bathed by a special lighting system, offering an impressive view. Native Americans can still be seen in the region, particularly in Coroa Vermelha and they often have clashes with the authorities, as they accuse the local government and civilians of invading their lands. Together with sympathizers, they refused to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Portuguese invasion in 2000 when both Portuguese and Brazilian government officials assembled at the shore to mark the event with Masses, parades, and monument dedication.
Monte Pascoal National Park Created in 1961 to preserve the place where Brazil was “discovered” by Portuguese warriors. It includes swamp areas, salt marshes, river marshes and a coastline around the rocky, high and round hill, considered the first point of land to be seen by the Portuguese traveler Pedro Álvares Cabral’s crew. It extends over an area of 144.8 km², including the Pataxó tribe’s indigenous protection land. Besides its historical importance, it also offers protection to one of the last stretches of Atlantic forest in the Northeastern area of Brazil. The area is aimed at preserving valuable woods such as Brazil wood, and still hosts many species of animals threatened by extinction, such as “collar sloth”, “black burs”, among others.
Recife de Fora Sea Park It was the first city owned park in Brazil. During low tide, visitor can view a wide range of coral reefs, fish and many sea species. Tours are available on schooners.
Glória Hillock Here, visitors find the ruins of what many consider to be the São Francisco Church, the where Ynaiá was buried, an Indian woman who died for the love of a crewmember of Portuguese navigator Gonçalo Coelho‘s fleet. People say the São Francisco Church was the first one built in Brazil, in baroque style, probably in 1504, whose ruins date to 1730.
The Nossa Senhora da Penha Church Located on Pero de Campos Tourinho Square, in Cidade Alta, it was built at the 18th century’s end. It comprises an aisle, a main chapel, a sacristy and a bell tower.
Jaqueira Indigenous Protection Reservation A huge jackfruit tree trunk, tumbled down by nature itself, represents the return to one’s origins and acts as a historical and cultural reference to honor the ancestral fathers and mothers of Pataxó families who recently moved into this 8.27 km² Indian protection area. Their huts, spread around original Atlantic Forest woods, keeps original old formats, giving visitors the impression of being back 500 years in time to pre-Colombian Brazil.
Pirata Island It is considered as one of the most sophisticated aquarium complexes in South America]]. Pirata Island is a thematic leisure center combining nightlife infrastructure and environmental and sea biodiversity protection, with giant aquariums. It is located on Pacuio Island, on Buranhém River and access is available exclusively by boat.
The “Discovery” Outdoors Museum An outdoors, natural museum, whose “art galleries” are its beaches, valleys and natural trails and whose “collection” is a set of geographical formations and traditional villages, disposed as art works in permanent exhibition, engraved in very ancient media, which are spread along the 130 km length of Bahia’s historical southern coastline.
Terravista Golf Course The golf course, designed by architect Dan Blankenship, offers 18 holes and demanded US$ 4 million in investment to be built]]. The project follows the most sophisticated and up to date trends in golf course building in the world today, as done in California, USA, and in Algarve, Portugal – all of which look very similar in terms of weather and geographical conditions, for all three golf courses are close to sea areas.