Bahia, Or São Salvador, a maritime city of Brazil and capital of the state of Bahia, situated on the Bay of All Saints (Bahia de Todos os Santos), and on the western side of the peninsula separating that bay from the Atlantic, in 13° S. lat. and 38° 30′ W. long. Pop. (1890) 174,412; (est. 1900) 200,000. The commercial section of the city occupies a long, narrow beach between the water-line and bluffs, and contains the arsenal, exchange, custom-house, post-office, railway station, market and principal business houses. It has narrow streets badly paved and drained, and made still more dirty and offensive by the surface drainage of the upper town. Communication with the upper town is effected by means of two elevators, a circular tramway, and steep zigzag roads. The upper town is built on the western slope of a low ridge, the backbone of the peninsula, and rises from the edge of the bluffs to altitudes of 200 to 260 ft. above the sea-level, affording magnificent views of the bay and its islands. There are wider streets, comfortable residences, and attractive gardens in this part of the city.
Here also are to be found the churches, schools, theatres, asylums, and hospitals, academies of law and medicine, governor's palace, public library, and museum, and an interesting public garden on the edge of the bluff, overlooking the bay. The city is served by four street-car lines, connecting the suburbs with both the upper and lower towns. In 1906 contracts were made to reconstruct some of these lines for electric traction. The railways radiating from the city to inland points are the Bahia & Alagoinhas which is under construction to Joazeiro, on the São Francisco river, a short line to Santo Amaro, and two lines - the Bahia Central and the Nazareth tramway - extending inland from points on the opposite side of the bay. The port of Bahia, which has one of the best and most accessible harbours on the east coast of South America, has a large coastwise and foreign trade, and is also used as a port of call by most of the steamship lines trading between Europe and that continent. Bahia was founded in 1549 by Thomé de Souza, the first Portuguese governor-general of Brazil, and was the seat of colonial administration down to 1763. It was made the seat of a bishopric in 1551, and of an archbishopric in 1676, and until 1905 was the metropolis of the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil. The city was captured in 1624 by the Dutch, who held it only a few months.
Always conservative in character, the city hesitated in adhering to the declaration of independence in 1822, and also to the declaration of the republic in 1889. Much of its commercial and political importance has been lost, also, through the decay of industrial activity in the state, and through the more vigorous competition of the agricultural states of the south.
(A. J. L.)