João Pessoa

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João Pessoa
The Municipality of João Pessoa
João Pessoa skyline as viewed from the sea
João Pessoa skyline as viewed from the sea
Flag of João Pessoa
Official seal of João Pessoa
Nickname(s): Green City; The City where the sun rises first
Location of João Pessoa in the State of Paraíba
Location of João Pessoa in the State of Paraíba
Location of João Pessoa
Country  Brazil
State Bandeira da Paraíba.svg Paraíba
Microregion Mata Paraibana
Founded August 5, 1585
 • Mayor Luciano Cartaxo (PT)
 • Total 210.551 km2 (81.294 sq mi)
Elevation 40 m (130 ft)
Population (2012)IBGE/2012[1]
 • Total 742.478
 • Density 3.5/km2 (9.1/sq mi)
Time zone BRT (UTC-3)
Postal Code 58000-000
Area code(s) +55 83
Website Official website

João Pessoa (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʒuˈɐ̃w peˈsoɐ]) is the capital of the state of Paraíba in Brazil. It was founded in 1585 and sometimes is called the city where the sun rises first, as it is the easternmost city in the Americas at 34º47'38"W, 7º9'28"S. The easternmost point, there, is known as Ponta do Seixas. The city is considered "the second greenest in the world", and has more than 7 square kilometres (2.7 sq mi) of forested land, second only to Paris, France.[2] It gained this distinction in 1992, after a survey of urban centres in various countries carried out by the United Nations (source: Embassy of Brazil in the UK). The city is characterized by the juxtaposition of tropical beaches, modern architecture and historic buildings from colonial periods.

João Pessoa is the capital of Paraíba, a state in the northeast region of Brazil and home to some 19th and 20th century Brazilian poets and writers such as Augusto dos Anjos, José Américo de Almeida, José Lins do Rego and Pedro Américo. It took its current name in 1930, in homage to state president (governor) João Pessoa Cavalcanti de Albuquerque, who was assassinated on 26 July of that year. It is the state's largest city, with a population of circa 770,000 (about one sixth of the state's population[3]). Its metropolitan area comprises eight other satellite cities (Bayeux, Cabedelo, Conde, Lucena, Santa Rita and others) totalling 1,223,000 of inhabitants.

It is the capital with the shortest distance from another capital (Recife) which is approximately 120 kilometres (75 mi) away, as well as Natal, 180 kilometres (110 mi) north of João Pessoa. Due to the high growth rate of these three capital cities, it is believed that for the next few decades an informal megalopolis will be set up, especially between Recife and João Pessoa.

The city is one of the oldest in the northeast of the country. Theatres, auditoriums and convention centres are part of the available infrastructure in the city. The new Presidente Castro Pinto International Airport connects João Pessoa with many Brazilian cities.

The new "Estação Ciência, Cultura e Artes" (Science, Culture and Art Station)[4] located at the most eastern point of the Americas (Ponta das Seixas) is both an educational and cultural institution as well as a national landmark. The complex, inaugurated in 2008, was created by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and is one of his latest projects.


João Pessoa
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: MSN Weather

Eastern Extreme[edit]

João Pessoa holds the title of the easternmost urban seat of a municipality in Brazil. Its counterparts in the North, West and South are respectively Uiramutã, state of Roraima; Mâncio Lima, Acre; and Chuí, Rio Grande do Sul.


Joao Pessoa has an intertropical climate with very warm temperatures all year long. The excessive heat and humidity makes it uncomfortable for external work. Most shops and places have air conditioners as indoors temperatures tend to sit between 27°C and 29°C. Joao Pessoa does not have well defined seasons. The only significant difference between summer and "winter" is the amount of rainfall with no significant change in temperatures as shown in the graph. The "winter" begins in March and ends in August with July usually being the wettest month.


João Pessoa has approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) of beaches (both residential and virgin) as well as many small, natural islands.

João Pessoa has many green areas distributed among its avenues, parks, and residential neighborhoods, which support its claim as "the second greenest city in the world" with more than 7 square kilometres (2.7 sq mi) of forested land, second only to Paris. It was considered thus in 1992, after a survey of urban centres in various countries carried out by the United Nations (source: Embassy of Brazil in the UK).[5]

João Pessoa is situated in a tropical zone, with regular rain regimen and thus a lush vegetation (tropical rain forest).


Map of Frederikstadt by Johannes Vingboons (1665).
João Pessoa, seen from the International Space Station

João Pessoa is the third oldest city in Brazil. The first Europeans who entered the area were French traders of Brazilwood. Following a war between the French, their indigenous allies, the Tabajara, and the Portuguese, the city was founded by Portuguese settlers from Pernambuco on August 5, 1585. They named it Nossa Senhora das Neves ("Our Lady of the Snow"), after the Saint of that day. In 1588, when the Crowns of Portugal and Spain were united in the Iberian Union (1580–1640), the city was renamed Filipéia de Nossa Senhora das Neves after Philip I of Portugal.

The area soon proved perfect for sugar production, with the French, the Dutch and the Portuguese all fighting to control the Paraíba region as a place to grow the lucrative sugarcane. The fortress of Santa Catarina, near João Pessoa, was built by the Portuguese to protect the city from the invading Dutch, who soon became the greatest threat to Portuguese supremacy in Portugal's Colonial Brazil. From 1634 through 1654, the city was held by the Dutch, who renamed it Frederikstadt, after their stadtholder Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange. They renamed it "Fort Margaretha after the mother of John Maurice, Prince of Nassau-Siegen, Governor of Dutch Brazil (or New Holland). The names Nossa Senhora das Neves and Santa Catarina were restored after the Portuguese reoccupation.

In 1817, the city was once again renamed Parahyba do Norte. After a visit to the city by Emperor Pedro II of Brazil in 1859, the city acquired the title of "Imperial City".

On July 26, 1930, during the Brazilian Revolution of 1930, the governor of Paraíba, João Pessoa, was assassinated in Recife by his political adversary, João Duarte Dantas. On September 4 of that same year, Parahyba's citizens voted to honor him by renaming the city "Joao Pessoa."


According to the IBGE of 2009, there were 702,000 people residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 45.72% White, 38.72% Pardo, 2.77% Black, 0.25% Asian or Amerindian.[6]


Religion Percentage Number
Catholic 74.06% 442,841
Protestant 15.92% 95,191
No religion 7.41% 44,332
Spiritist 1.10% 6,571

Source: IBGE 2000.[7]

Education and culture[edit]

The official language is Portuguese, and the dialectal differences regarding other Brazilian varieties are mainly phonological (Northeastern accent). Portuguese is the primary language taught in schools and it is spoken by 100% of the population. English and Spanish are part of the official high school curriculum.

Higher education[edit]

One of the buildings of the State University of Paraíba.

The city is home to the Federal University of Paraíba and several other universities and faculties. Below are some of the higher education institutions at João Pessoa:

Cultural centers[edit]

Estação Cabo Branco by Oscar Niemeyer.
  • Espaco Cultural, one of the largest arts centers in the northeast of Brazil. It features modern architecture and is a major cultural venue for the state. Its architectonic complex includes a live concert plaza, convention facilities, movie theater, play theater, art gallery, planetarium, craft stores, and more.
  • Estacao Ciencia, Cultura e Artes ("Science, Culture and Art Station"), a project by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer at Ponta das Seixas. The center provides a wide range of cultural and educational activities for locals and turists.


International airport[edit]

Joao Pessoa is served by Presidente Castro Pinto International Airport that is located in the adjoining municipality of Bayeux, 12 km from downtown.

Urban transportation[edit]

Bus changing lane at Rui Carneiro Ave., Joao Pessoa.

In the city, public transport is mainly based on a bus system, considered in 2011 as the newest fleet of private buses and higher quality of Brazil, taxis and rail. The city has about 500 buses. A single ticket can be used for passengers around the city and to make connections. There is one main terminal (Terminal Integration Varadouro), where passengers can change buses. An electronic ticketing system was implemented to provide greater efficiency for passengers. Currently the bus fare is $ 2.20, or about $ 1.25 USD (in 2009). Prolonged or travel in taxis can often be negotiated directly with the driver. For example, a taxi to Campina Grande Joao Pessoa, about an hour and a half hours away, can be taken for about $ 40 or $ 16 dollars depending on the exchange rate.


The railway system provides inter-city commuting for people from cities in the metropolitan area only in parts of the western and northern area of the capital.

Distances from other capitals[edit]

Human Development[edit]

The human development in João Pessoa varies greatly by location, but it has the highest HDI in Paraiba state.


The GDP for the city was R$ 5,024,604,000 (2005).[8]

The per capita income for the city was R$ 7,604 (2005).[9]

Main sights[edit]

Cabo Branco lighthouse at Ponta do Seixas in southeastern region of the city.
Solon de Lucena Park's lagoon at night in the northwestern region.
João Pessoa's evening skyline (center-eastern region).
Saint Francis Church and Saint Anthony Convent (northern region).

João Pessoa is located in the easternmost point of the Americas and is the second greenest city in the world, coupled with 40 km of tropical beaches. Tourism is one of João Pessoa's chief economic activities, together with construction, food, metalworking, and other industries. Sugar cane agriculture and related industries are also important. Historically, Tarcisio de Miranda Burity, a former governor, has made major strides to improve the infrastructure of the city and to support the arts. Today, João Pessoa has a growing tourist and commercial industry. The second-largest mall in the Northeast region of Brazil, Shopping Manaira, is located in Joao Pessoa.[citation needed]

João Pessoa has one publication which highlights its tourist attractions: The Guia Mais Joao Pessoa.[10] Major local newspapers, such as O Correio da Paraiba and O Norte, highlight a wide range of events on a weekly basis. Below are a few of the major attractions.

Historical sites[edit]

  • Barroco Park. It is formed by the colonial mansions scattered around the upper and lower regions of the city.
  • Theatro Santa Roza (1889), decorated in Baroque style. It is one of the oldest theatres in the country.[citation needed] It is located at Pedro Américo Square.
  • Redenção Palace. Erected in 1586, Redenção Palace used to be the home of the old Jesuits convent. Today the building is the State Government headquarters.
  • Santa Catarina Fortress, built in 1586. It comprises the captain's house, a chapel and cannons from the 16th century.
  • Saint Francis Church and Saint Anthony Convent. Totally embellished in Baroque style, the church and the convent were built in 1589 and 1779, respectively. The highlights are the chapels of the Third Order of Saint Francis and Saint Benedict, featuring Portuguese ceramic panels and sacristy. The spaces also feature, regularly, popular art exhibitions.
  • São Frei Pedro Gonçalves Church. Erected in 1843, the church was restored in 2002 and features the foundations from the old 17th century building. In front of it there are many restored colonial mansions.


  • Solon de Lucena Park. Located at the commercial centre of the city, it has numerous centenary imperial palm trees, golden trumpet trees and acacias – the tree symbol of the city. At the centre there is a luminous fountain.
  • Arruda Câmara Park. Also known as "Bica", because of an old mineral water fountain, it features a zoo, botanic garden and leisure areas.


  • Cabo Branco Lighthouse, located at the easternmost inland point in the Country and allows panoramic views of the city; from there all the Ponta das Seixas beach can be seen.


  • Museum of Cultural Center of Saint Francis, a permanent exhibition of Religious and Baroque Art. Also, the center offers contemporary art and craft exhibitions. Located in the site of Saint Francis Church.
  • José Lins do Rego Museum. Located at Espaço Cultural, the museum has a library of over 4000 volumes, photos, letters, honors, manuscripts, and personal objects of Rego, a major paraibano writer.
  • Casa do Artista Popular. This museum has over 1000 works of crafts representing a wide range of styles developed in the state of Paraiba. The museum also has library and gift shops.
  • Espaço Energia. This museum takes visitors through the history of electricity. The museum shows the types of energy used in the 19th century and ends its display with a contemporary home, fully equipped with electrical appliances and such. Housed at Usina Cultural da Saelpa.
  • Ocean Museum of Cabedelo, a collection that highlights the remaining of ships that sank in the area.
  • Epitácio Pessoa Museum (Museu e Cripta de Epitácio Pessoa). The museum houses objects from former Brazilian president Epitácio Pessoa.
  • Historic Archive of the State of Paraíba (Arquivo Historico do Estado da Paraiba), which preserves the historic heritage of the state.
  • José Américo de Almeida Museum (Museu José Américo de Almeida). The house where lived this noted political figure and write Minister José Américo de Almeida.


  • Santa Rosa Theatre
  • Paulo Pontes Theatre in Espaço Cultural
  • Theatre of Arena in Espaço Cultural
  • Lima Penante Theatre
  • Ednaldo do Egypto Theatre
  • Ariano Suassuna Theatre
  • Sala de Cultura in Shopping Sul

Movie theaters[edit]

  • Box Cinemas in Manaíra Shopping
  • Multiplex Tambiá 6 in Tambiá Shopping
  • Cine Bangüe in Espaço Cultural
  • Cine Espaço in Mag Shopping

Major art galleries[edit]

  • Casa do Artista Popular
  • Casarão dos Azulejos
  • Casarão 34
  • Centro Cultural São Francisco
  • Cripta do Presidente Epitácio Pessoa
  • Gabinete Cultural Flávio Eduardo Maroja (Fuba)
  • Galeria de Arte “13 de maio"
  • Galeria de Artes Archidy Picado
  • Galeria Gamela
  • Galeria Ponta das Artes
  • Mausoléo de João Pessoa
  • Sala de Cultura da Setur
  • Usina Cultural e Estação da Energia (former Estação da Cruz do Peixe)

Visual Arts of Paraíba[edit]

The visual arts in the state of Paraíba have been prolific and João Pessoa has been a major dissemination site. Events such as FENART and Arte Atual Paraibana have showcased new and established artists. A recent initiative produced and promoted by the city of Joao Pessoa is the Dictionary of Visual Arts of Paraíba. Dyogenes Chaves, in the presentation text, reminds the reader that the dictionary covers a wide range of artists, from the least to the most known, such as "Pedro Américo, Santa Rosa[disambiguation needed], Antonio Dias, Ivan Freitas, Alexandre Filho, Antonio Augusto Fontes, Jackson Ribeiro, Roberto Coura, José Rufino, Alice Vinagre, José Simeão Leal, Antonio Bento, Paulo Sérgio Duarte e Rubem Navarra – to list a few."


Events include:

  • Muriçocas do Miramar (February). Main street carnival held in the Wednesday prior to official carnival days.
  • Vem Viver a Paraíba (January - February, name meaning "Come and Experience Paraiba") is a tourism fair and folklore performance event.
  • Centro em Cena (January). Art and culture event.
  • Folia de rua - Prévia Carnavalesca (February). Street carnival a few days prior to official carnival days.
  • Carnaval da Melhor Idade (February) Carnival for senior citizens.
  • Auto de Deus (April). Passion Play of the crucifixion of Christ.
  • FENART João Pessoa (June). Fine-arts exhibition in the area.
  • Feira Brasil mostra Brasil (July), a trade Fair featuring Brazilian products.
  • Festa das Neves (August). A religious celebration of the Patroness of the city, Santa Maria Maggiore.
  • Vaquejada do Cowboy (November). Rodeo-inspired event.
  • Festa do Atum (December), a festival dedicated to tuna.


João Pessoa provides visitors and residents with various sport activities.

Sister cities[edit]

João Pessoa's sister cities are:


  1. ^ "Estimativas da população para 1º de julho de 2008" (PDF). Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE). 29 August 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2008. 
  2. ^ "Onde o Sol brilha primeiro". Câmara Municipal de João Pessoa. Retrieved March 2010. 
  3. ^ 2010 IBGE
  4. ^ ESTAÇÃO CIÊNCIA, CULTURA e ARTES (PDF) (in Portuguese). joão pessoa, Brazil: E.C.C.A. 2006. ISBN 85-240-3919-1. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 
  5. ^ Green City (PDF). joão pessoa, Brazil: UK Embassy. 2006. ISBN 85-240-3919-1. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 
  6. ^ Síntese de Indicadores Sociais 2000 (PDF) (in Portuguese). João Pessoa, Brazil: IBGE. 2000. ISBN 85-240-3919-1. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  7. ^ Religion in João Pessoa by IBGE
  8. ^ GDP (PDF) (in Portuguese). João Pessoa, Brazil: IBGE. 2005. ISBN 85-240-3919-1. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  9. ^ per capita income (PDF) (in Portuguese). João Pessoa, Brazil: IBGE. 2005. ISBN 85-240-3919-1. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  10. ^ Guia Mais Joao Pessoa 01.01.2008

External links[edit]

Related Wiki links[edit]


Coordinates: 7°05′S 34°50′W / 7.083°S 34.833°W / -7.083; -34.833