The Metropolitan Region of Recife is the main industrial zone of the State of Pernambuco; most relevant products are those derived from cane (sugar and alcohol), electronics, food, and others; thanks to the fiscal incentives of governament, many industrial enterprises were started in the 1970s and 1980s. Recife has a tradition of being the most important commercial center of Northeastern Brazil.
A combination of a large supply of labor and significant private investments turned Recife into Brazil's second largest medical center, (second only to São Paulo); modern hospitals with state-of-the-art equipments receive patients from several neighboring States. Like all other cities in Northeast, Recife is developing its tourist sector. The beach of Porto de Galinhas, 60 kilometers south of the city, has been repeatedly awarded the title of best beach in Brazil and has drawn many tourists. Recife's infrastructure is among the most developed in Brazil for travellers and businessmen, though there is wide room for improvement.
The city is also a renowned educational center, and home to the Federal University of Pernambuco, the largest university in Pernambuco. Several Brazilian historical figures, such as the poet and abolitionist Castro Alves, moved to Recife to attain their education, though in recent years, the quality of education in Recife has lagged relative to its neighboring cities.
Recife is served by the Gilberto Freire/Guararapes International Airport which connects Recife to several Brazilian desinations as well as major international cities in Europe (direct service to United States cities will resume in November 2008).
The heart of Recife is formed by three small islands (Santo Antônio, Boa Vista en Recife proper). Between the islands are the rivers Beberibe and Capibaribe.
The area around Recife was one of the first in Brazil to be settled by the Portuguese Crown. In 1537, John III of Portugal divided Brazil into Hereditary Captaincies (Capitanias Hereditárias, in Portuguese); the Portuguese realized that they had no human or financial resources to invest in such a large and distant colony, and decided to assign this task to private entrepreneurs, called Donatários (this system had already been successful in the settlement of the Portuguese colonies in Africa).
Because of several problems (the most obvious being the lack of support from the Portuguese metropolis), most Captaincies failed. One of the few to prosper was the Captaincy of Pernambuco, which was assigned to Duarte Coelho Pereira (the man who founded Olinda and became famous for expressing his enchantment with the beauty of the place, giving the name to the city).
Pernambuco prospered from the sugarcane industry (beet sugar was not industrially produced in Europe until the beginning of the 19th century). At the time, in Europe, sugarcane plantations could be grown only in Andalusia and the Algarve; in the 1420s, sugarcane was carried to the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores; the sugar from Brazil was very appreciated in Europe. Duarte Coelho found in Pernambuco plenty of fertile land and an excellent climate for the cultivation of cane; all he needed was labor to work in the crops and to keep the "engenhos" (rustic wooden machinery) moving.
At first, the Portuguese tried to use the indigenous peoples of Brazil, but they soon realized that the indigenous culture was not compatible with the work in the engenhos. The solution was to import black slaves from Africa; from the 16th to the 19th century, Pernambuco received many slaves, making it one of the Brazilian States where black culture has the most visible traces (in dance, music, culinary, etc).
Alone, this mixture of Portuguese, Indians and black slaves would be enough to make Recife one of the most culturally diverse cities in Brazil. The Dutch added to the mix. From 1580 to 1640, the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal were unified under the rule of the former. Spain was engaged in a war against the Netherlands, and determined that the Dutch, who were the main distributors of Brazilian sugar in Europe, would be prohibited from coming to Brazil.
The Dutch decided to invade several sugar producing cities in Brazil, including Salvador and Natal. From 1630 to 1654, they took control of Recife and Olinda. During this period, Recife became one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the world. The first Jewish community and the first synagogue in the Americas was founded in the city.
The inhabitants fought on their own to expel the Dutch, being helped by the involvement of the Dutch in the First Anglo-Dutch War. This was known as the Insurreição Pernambucana (Pernambucan Insurrection). Most of the Jews fled to Amsterdam; others fled to North America, starting the first Jewish community of New Amsterdam (now known as New York City).
During the 18th century, riots spread throughout the city, in which the rich farmers of Olinda and the traders from Recife clashed. Recife had a clear advantage in relation to Olinda: Olinda has no harbour, while Recife's Harbor is one of the largest on the Atlantic. Recife's victory asserted the supremacy of its bourgeoisie over the decadent sugar aristocrats of Olinda. This was a decisive factor for Recife's growth. Recife is now a large city whereas Olinda is a small historical town. Recife is a historical city, distinguished by the opulence of its colonial buildings, with its colonization rooted in different nations; Portugal, Holland, France, England.
According to the IBGE of 2007, there were 3,655,000 people residing in the Metropolitan Region of Recife. The population density was . The last PNAD (National Research for Sample of Domiciles) census revealed the following numbers: 2,072,385 Pardo (Brown) people (56.7%), 1,308,490 White people (35.8%), 255,000 Black people (7.0%), 21,000 Asian or Amerindian people (0.6%).
The Metropolitan Region of Recife is the 5th most populous of Brazil, after São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, and Porto Alegre. The city is the 9th most populous of the contry. The most populous neighborhoods of Recife are Boa Viagem (100,388), Casa Amarela (69,134), and Várzea (64,512).
According to 1996 IPEA statistics, the GDP was estimated in R$8 billion, discounting agrcultural activities. Manufacturing represented 16.5% and the sector of the commerce and service 83.4%. In 2005, IBGE estimates indicate that the GDP had grown to R$16 billion.
Recife is one of Brazil's prime business centers, largely because it has two ports. One is located in the town itself, and the other, the port of Suape, is located about away. Just south of Recife is the region's main industrial area, where you can find the following industries: brewing and canning, automotive electronics, tube manufacturing, chocolate manufacturing, textiles, etc.
Porto Digital's startups can count on a ready pool of talent, courtesy of the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE), which boasts one of the best computer-science departments in all of Latin America. The school began teaching programmers to use Sun Microsystems Inc.'s (SUNW) Java language in 1996, the year it was introduced. Professors at the school also teamed up to launch Centro de Estudos e Sistemas Avançados do Recife (C.E.S.A.R), a business incubator that has played a vital role in the birth of some 30 companies.
The Metropolitan Region of Recife has the 2nd largest medical pool of Brazil, after São Paulo. Together they make up 417 hospitals and clinics. The medical pool offers a total of 8,200 beds and, according to the Union of the Hospitals of Pernambuco, recorded in 2000 an invoicing of 220 millions of reais. It is thanks to the pool that Pernambuco has access to more computed tomography devices than countries like Canada or France. A large portion of the modern hospitals which are included in the pool are located between the neighbourhoods of Derby and of the Ilha do Leite. The Hospital Real Português of Beneficência Portuguesa in Pernambuco, or "Hospital Português" (Portuguese Hospital) for short, is one of the most renowned hospitals in the country. Many people from neighbouring states go to Recife for treatment, as it has the largest and best medical facilities in the North-Northeast of Brazil. Recife has three universities of medicine, 2 public, Federal University of Pernambuco and University of Pernambuco; and 1 private, Escola Pernambucana de Medicina FBV/IMIP (Medical School of Pernambuco).
The GDP for the city was R$ 16,664,468,000 (2005).
The per capita income for the city was R$ 11,102 (2005).
Among Recife's main tourist attractions are:
There are many beaches close to Recife, such as:
Portuguese is the official national language, and thus the primary language taught in schools. But English and Spanish are part of the official high school curriculum. There are also international schools, such as the American School of Recife.
Recife is one of the most cultural sites in Brazil, Cradle of Brazilian culture, and is the home of several artists, musicians and writers. It is also home to the frevo, a regional dance and music, typical in the carnival, and the Mangue Beat, a type of Brazilian rock with mixture of Maracatu, Ciranda, Rap and other music styles. During carnival, downtown Recife holds one of the most authentic and democratic celebrations: every year more than one million people opens the festivities of the Brazilian Carnival at the Galo da Madrugada.
Housed in a 19th century mansion in Recife, capital of Pernambuco state, the "Museu do Estado de Pernambuco (MEPE)" dates back to 1929. From Masters who portrayed the Colonial period, as well as the Dutch invasion (1630) to 20th and 21st century, the museum is comprised by over 12 thousand art pieces which invites the visitor to a journey into the local history. Periodically the museum hosts the "Salão de Arte Contemporânea de Pernambuco" when emerging artists are selected to represent the new run of local professionals who will help to maintain and shape the new profile of the local art scenery.
Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue
Kahal Zur Israel is the name of a synagogue in Recife. Which is the oldest in the Americas, dating back to the 17th Century. After being closed for many years it is now re-opened to Jews and their culture.
Francisco Brennand Ceramic Shop
Francisco Brennand, one of the most important names in contemporary sculptures in Brazil, displays his ceramic works in enormous open sheds, between monuments and gardens. It is set in an old brick factory that belonged to the sculptor’s family.
Northeastern Man Museum
Gilberto Freyre Foundation
The farm house, from the 18th century, was Gilberto Freyre's old residence. Artworks, arts and crafts, book collections and objects that belonged to the Pernambuco writer and sociologist are displayed there.
Ricardo Brennand Institute
Set up in a building that reproduces a medieval style, it has a collection of pieces from the Dutch domination period in Recife, as well as daggers and armors.
Recife City Museum
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. Once exclusively a rural festivity, today, in Brazil, it is largely a city festival during which people joyfully and theatrically mimic peasant stereotypes and clichés in a spirit of joke and good time. Typical refreshments and dishes are served. It should be noted that, like during Carnival, these festivities involve costumes-wearing (in this case, peasant costumes), dancing, heavy drinking, and visual spectacles (fireworks display and folk dancing). Like what happens on Midsummer and St John's Day in Europe, bonfires are a central part of these festivities in Brazil.
The four-day period before Lent leading up to Ash Wednesday is carnival time in Brazil. Rich and poor alike forget their cares as they party in the streets. Pernambuco has large Carnival celebrations, including the Frevo, typical Pernambuco music. Another famous carnaval music style from Pernambuco is Maracatu. The cities of Recife and Olinda hold the most authentic and democratic carnaval celebrations in Brazil. The largest carnaval in all of Brazil is Galo da Madrugada, which takes place in Downtown Recife in the Saturday of carnaval. Another famous event is the "Noite dos Tambores Silenciosos". Carnaval Recife's joyous Carnaval is nationally known and admired, attracting thousands of people every year. The party starts a week before the official date, with electric trios "shaking" the Boa Viagem Neighborhood. On Friday, people take to the streets to enjoy themselves to the sound of frevo and to dance with maracatu, ciranda, caboclinhos, afoxé, reggae and manguebeat (cultural movement created in Recife during the 90s) groups. There are still many other entertainment poles spread out around the city, featuring local and national artists. One of the highlights is Saturday when more than one million people follow the Galo da Madrugada group. From Sunday to Monday, there is the Night of the Silent Drums, on the Pátio do Terço, where Maracatus honor slaves that died in prisons.
"Frevo" was born from the confluence of European and Afro-Brazilian cultures, as probably did all the other musical genres consolidated in Brazil. Historians from Pernambuco assure that, before the term appeared in Recife's 'Jornal Pequeno', it was already heard and danced in a symbiosis of polkas, 'modinhas', 'dobrados' e 'maxixes' e 'jogos pastoris' (stick and rope formations) along the streets of Pernambuco's capital. The music bands (civilian or military) of the time helped giving the sound the defining character we have come to know as the Frevo, a musical mass defined by the brasses. About the Street-Frevo, conductor Guerra Peixe said once that "it is the only popular genre that does not admit the 'play-by-ear composer'. He was referring to the technical hardship of this kind of music, and stressing the role of conductors who led the 'frevistical' troupes.
Guararapes International Airport, also known as Gilberto Freyre International Airport, has been open on its newest structure since July 2004 and has 52,000 square meters of area. The largest airport in the North and Northeast regions, Guararapes had its capacity expanded from 1.5 million to 5 million passengers a year. Now there are 64 check-in counters, versus the former terminal's 24. The shopping and leisure area was also totally remodeled, within the "Aeroshopping" concept, which transforms an airport into a center for business, comfort and high-quality products and services. The commercial spaces will be occupied in steps and the final total will be 142 shops. The parking structure has been ready since December 2002. There are three levels with total capacity for 2080 vehicles, over four times the previous 500 spots. There is space for events and exhibitions on the fourth level. The new Guararapes Airport has also become a showplace for Pernambuco's art. Francisco Brennand has provided the terminal with a mural and three statues. João Câmara, José Cláudio, Gil Vicente and Pedro Frederico show their paintings. Abelardo da Hora exhibits a statue of noted sociologist Gilberto Freyre, the airport's namesake.
Since 2000, Recife has had the longest runway in the Northeast, at 3,305 meters. Its extension permits operations with jumbo jets, such as the Boeing 747-400, which can carry 290 passengers and 62 tons of cargo, with endurance to fly nonstop to anywhere in South America and Central America, Africa and parts of Europe, the United States and Canada. The apron area was also expanded and the number of aircraft parking boxes increased from 14 to 26. Current domestic destinations include most major cities in Brazil, and there are also international flights to Paris, France, Lisbon, Portugal, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Miami and Atlanta in the United States. There is a pipeline running underneath carrying kerosene to fuel the airplanes, the safest way to do this because it does away with the need for tank trucks in the maneuvering area.
This system also integrates with several bus lines connected to the bus/metro integration terminals, such as Barro and Joana Bezerra stations. It is possible to ride the metro and the connected bus line by purchasing one ticket only.
Neighborhoods in Recife include:
Football in Pernambuco began in 1902, when English and Dutch sailors landed in Recife and played a game of football on the beach. The new game aroused the interest of the people of Pernambuco, and they soon started playing.
Recife provides visitors and residents with various sporting activities. There are several soccer clubs based in Recife, such as Sport (38 times state champion and two times national champion), Santa Cruz FC (24 times state champion), and Náutico (21 times state champion).
Recife's reputation for safety is not one of the best. Its metropolitan area has a rate of 69.4 (or 90.9) murders per 100,000 inhabitants, which is more than in much larger Brazilian cities, such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, and more than twice the national average.
As of the Ipea and Datasus of 2003, to 100,000 inhabitants:
There has been a growing number of foreign tourists who come to Brazil looking for sex, mostly Germans, Italians, and other Europeans. These tourists come to Recife and other cities of Northeast Brazil not for the culture and beaches, but for sex, often with minors. Brazil has a supply of young girls desperate to escape poverty, and the demand from foreign men is rising all the time.
In Recife, where a growing population of children sleep on park benches or fall drugged or drunk on the curbs outside bars catering to a brisk trade in sex tourism, many girls who live on the streets have begun slashing themselves with razor blades, often on their forearms. Recife's secretary for tourism, Romeo Batista, says the long-term antidote to the sex trade lies in better social policies so that Brazilian girls have less need for foreign men and money.
Several countries worldwide have their own legislation that prosecutes tourists in their homeland if they engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with children:
Complaints concerning foreigners who are suspected of committing child sex tourism offences should be directed to the nearst consulate or embassy.
In recent years, the number of shark attacks on the beaches of Recife has increased. This was addressed on the National Geographic Channel series Hunter Hunted in the episode "Shark Invasion". Surfing has been outlawed since 1995 on the urban beaches (Pina, Boa Viagem, Piedade, Candeias) because of the risk the sport poses to its practitioners due to shark attacks. It's strongly recommended you do not climb over and swim behind the reefs because of strong, unpredictable currents and the possible presence of bull sharks. Several beaches have messages alerting people of the danger of finding sharks, although this is very rare as in most parts of Brazil.
Before the 1990s, there were virtually no attacks reported here. But since 1992, there have been 47 shark attacks along a 20-km (12.5-mile) stretch of coast. Sixteen of them were fatal. In 2004, there were seven reported attacks. Two of the victims died. However, in absolute terms, there are more shark attacks in Florida and Australia than in Brazil. A state-funded investigation has focused on the long-term ecological effects of a new port, to the south of Recife. Port of Suape opened for business in 1984, and today handles more than four million tonnes of cargo per year. To facilitate its initial construction, two freshwater estuaries - which had discharged into the Atlantic Ocean - were sealed off. Based on that finding, local human rights lawyers are considering a symbolic legal challenge to the State of Pernambuco, with the aim of securing compensation for the victims of attacks.
Via CEMIT, Pernambuco state officials have attempted to reduce the risk of shark attacks through educational campaigns, oversight and research. A CEMIT patrol boat has captured 14 sharks found too close to the coast for comfort over two years. Other public policies include the posting of warning signs every 350 meters (1,150 feet) along the beach and the prohibition of surfing in threatened areas.
The human development of Recife varies greatly by locality, reflecting the city's spatial segregation and vast socioeconomic inequalities. There are neighborhoods that had very high human development indexes in 2000 (equal to or greater than the indexes of some Scandinavian countries), but also those in the lower range (in line with, for example, North Africa).
Neighborhoods and localities champions:
Neighborhoods and localities in last place: