A 1st E. Province Of Brazil, bounded N. by the Atlantic, E. by the province of Piauhy, S. W. by Goyaz, and TV. by Grlio Para; area, 168,000 sq. m.; pop. about 385,000, consisting chiefly of Indians. The coast line is very regular to the east; but about the middle it is deeply indented by the vast bays of Sao Joze and Sao Marcos, between which lies the island of Maranhao, opposite the embouchures of the Maranhao and Itapicurii rivers; still further W. occur at short intervals the bays of Cuma, Cabello, and Turiassii, the last forming the mouth of the river of the same name. From this point to the extreme west, and indeed to the mouth of the Para, or more properly the Amazon, the shore is fringed with innumerable islets, keys, and reefs. The coast of Maranhao is mainly low and fiat; high red cliffs border the shore of the island, and of the mainland to a considerable distance westward. The principal elevations are in the southwest and south, whence low parallel ridges slope almost due N., where they sink into extensive plains. Of the numerous rivers the largest are the Parnahyba, forming the entire E. boundary, and receiving a host of important tributaries from the southern corner of the province; the Itapicuru, Mearim, and Pindar, all navigable nearly to their sources, and the last two uniting 15 m.
N. of the town of Mearim to form the Maranhao; the Turiassii and the Gnrupi, separating the province from that of Grao Para; while 'the S. W. boundary line is constituted by the Tocantins and its N. E. affluent the Manoel Alves Grande. A great part of the country is densely wooded, but in the interior occur some extensive campos and alluvial flats, which are frequently inundated. Gold mining on a large scale was attempted at Marcassume, but was abandoned about 1867. Silver, platinum, rich copper ore, antimony, and arsenic have been discovered in many parts; iron is general throughout the province; there is petroleum on the Ita-picuni; sulphur is said to exist at Rosario, and saltpetre and hydraulic lime at Alcantara and Guaraju; and about 60,000 tons of salt are annually produced on the Alcantara coast. The climate is hot and damp, like that of the Amazonian valley, of which, according to Agassiz, it once formed a part; the thermometer ranges from 69.8° to 97.8° F. The light rains begin in October, but the rainy season sets in in December and lasts till May, with much thunder and lightning, especially toward the close; and from June to December the general winds blow steadily from the northeast by day, and from the east by night.
The principal products are rice, cotton, sugar, and coffee; the last is now abundantly grown on the mountain slopes inland, and will probably soon take the place of cotton as a staple for exportation. Oils of various kinds are extensively extracted, but mostly for domestic use, except copaiva, the annual production of which is about 100 pipes; and sarsaparilla, annotto, vanilla, cajii rosin, and many valuable medicinal plants are found in great plenty, but have not yet become important commodities. In 1854, 13,000,000 lbs. of cotton were exported, valued at $987,197; and in 1869, 12,-500,000 lbs., valued at $1,784,955. The total value of exports in 1867 was $3,150,426, and of imports (consisting mainly of machinery and manufactured goods) $2,712,560. Man-teiga de tartaruga, a kind of butter from tortoise eggs, is extensively manufactured. There are three founderies and one machine shop; superior embroideries and laces are made; but the larger portion of the inhabitants are engaged in agricultural pursuits.
Maranhao has eight cities and 28 towns; the more important of the former, besides the capital, are Caxias, Vianna, and Alcantara. Education is here more general than in any other province of the empire, there being a lyceum with 12 chairs of languages, sciences, and law, several seminaries, and numerous other schools. Maranhao has produced many of the most prominent Brazilian men of letters, arts, and sciences.
San Luiz De Maranhao, a maritime city, capital of the province, on the W. side of the island of the same name, lying at the mouths of the Itapicuru and Maranhao rivers, 1,410 m. N. of Rio de Janeiro; lat. 2° 31' S., Ion. 44° 18' W.; pop. of the island in 1872, 34,023, of whom about 30,000 were in the city. The city is defended by a line of high red cliffs skirting the shore of the island to the north, from which direction it is accessible only by narrow passes. The streets are regularly laid out, are spacious, well paved, and lighted with gas. The houses are well built, many of them being of two stories, and surrounded with gardens. The finest of the public buildings arc the cathedral and the episcopal palace, both the work of the Jesuits. There are ten other. churches and chapels, eight convents, the governor's house, town hall, custom house, post office, prison, and one military, one foundling, and several general hospitals. The benevolent institutions comprise asylums for orphans and indigent females, besides several societies for the protection and relief of artisans. There are two banks, several mercantile and industrial associations, and a number of insurance companies.
The educational establishments are a lyceum in which are taught languages, sciences, law, and philosophy, two seminaries, and many primary and grammar schools. The public library contains about 10,000 volumes. Eight periodicals are published. A botanic garden has lately been established. The climate i-extremely hot and unhealthy. - Maranhao is the entrepot for the productions of its own province and those of Grao Para, Piauhy, Rio Grande do Norte, and Ceara. The port is easy of access, well defended by a series of forts, and affords good anchorage for vessels drawing 20 ft. of water. The exports and imports for the second half of 1871 amounted to $1,021,468 64 and $1,063,225 30 respectively In 1870 there were exported 12,133,000 lbs. of cotton and 6,338,280 lbs. of sugar. Among other exports are hides, balsam copaiva, and unprepared isinglass. The chief imports are manufactured goods and machinery. Half of the foreign trade is with Great Britain, and about one tenth with Portugal. The maritime statistics for the year ending June 30, 1872, were: entered, 40 steamers and 36 sailing vessels, tonnage 44,272; cleared, 39 steamers and 51 sailing vessels, tonnage 52,230. Besides a direct line of steamers to Lisbon and Liverpool, there are two touching at Ceara and Belem or Pani, all established since 1867, and almost monopolizing the carrying trade between Maranhao and Europe. The rivers Itapicuru, Mea-rim, and Pindare are navigated by steamers, and there are also coasting lines to Rio de Janeiro and to Para. - Maranhao was founded in 1612.