With the creatition of the state, Portuguese America now had two administrative units: the State of Maranhão, with its capital in São Luís, and the State of Brazil, whose capital was São Salvador. After the 1670's, Belem became the operational base of the governors, and it was formally designated the capital ini 1737.
The purpose of creating this state was to improve military defense in the Northern Region and stimulate economic activities and regional trade with the mainland.
The State of Maranhão was extinguished in 1652 and in 1654 reconstituted as the State of Maranhão and Grão-Pará, or Estado do Maranhão e Grão-Pará. In 1751, the State of Maranhão and Grão-Pará had its name changed to State of Grão-Pará and Maranhão, and its capital was moved from São Luís to Belém.