Northeast Region of Brazil (continued)

The diversity of physical characteristics, which affect the occupation and economy of the Northeast, subdivides it into four subregions:

  • Mid North
  • Hinterland
  • Harsh
  • Wood zone

Follow on the map the location and then the information about each of them.

Map of northeastern subregions:
Mid North, 2 Hinterland, 3 Harsh, 4 Wood zone

Zone gives Woods

Up to 200 km wide coastal strip, from Rio Grande do Norte to the south of Bahia, with humid tropical climate, concentrated rains in autumn and winter, except in southern Bahia, where they are distributed throughout the year. The soil, dark and fertile, is the massape, formed by gneisses and limestones. The practically extinct natural vegetation is the Atlantic Forest, replaced by sugarcane at the beginning of colonization. Regional metropolises: Salvador and Recife.

Atlantic Forest in Olinda, Pernambuco


Transition area between the humid Zona da Mata (swamps) and the semiarid Sertão. The most fertile land is occupied by smallholdings, with subsistence crops and dairy farming.



In most of the semiarid interplanaltic depressions of the interior, it reaches the coast in Rio Grande do Norte and Ceará. Regional metropolis: Fortaleza, fastest growing in the Northeast.

City of Fortaleza - Ceará

The climate is semi-arid, the rainfall scarce and poorly distributed. The shallow and stony soils make agriculture difficult.

Characteristic soil of the northeastern backcountry

The typical vegetation is the caatinga. In the wetter parts, there are palm groves, especially the carnaubeira (the "providence tree" because all its parts are used).

Carnauba, the "tree of providence"

The largest river is the São Francisco, the only perennial source of water for riverside populations, with several plants, such as the Sobradinho dam in Juazeiro (BA), and the Paulo Afonso hydroelectric dam.

São Francisco River, in Bahia

The economy is based on low productivity large estates, with extensive livestock and seridó cotton crops. With poor living conditions, it is the region from which the largest number of migrants leave.

Seridó cotton - cotton crop in Seridó (region comprising the states of Rio Grande do Norte and Paraíba according to IBGE classification).

Mid North

Transition region between the semi-arid backlands and the Amazon region, with wetter climate and lush vegetation as it moves west. Its main river is the Parnaíba, on the border between Maranhão and Piauí, dammed by the Boa Esperança dam.

Good Hope Dam

The natural vegetation is Mata dos Cocais, with the babassu palm tree for oil extraction for use in cosmetics, soaps, margarines, lubricants.

Babassu palm tree

The economy is agricultural, with corn and rice plantations in the wet valleys of Maranhão. Industrialization began only in the 1980s, with the installation of Alumar and Usimar, extension of mineral projects in the Amazon and construction of the ports of Itaqui and Ponta do Madeira, in São Luís (MA), which export Carajás iron ore.

Corn cultivation in Maranhão