The city was named in honor of José Inácio de Abreu e Lima, also known as "Inácio Pernambucano". Born in Portugal, he participated in battles in Pernambuco and fought alongside Simón Bolivar in the wars of independence of Venezuela and Colombia.
Folklore is among Abreu e Lima's main attractions. Visitors can enjoy the drums and energetic rhythm of Maracatu dance performance, as well as Ciranda dance groups such as the one led by Dona Odete do Coco. The city's main festivity is the Emancipation Festival, every May 14. Also, over 70 percent of its territory is covered by virgin Atlantic Forest and environmental reserves, such as those of São Bento and Caetés.