Bahia, an Atlantic state of Brazil, bounded N. by the states of Piauhy, Pernambuco and Sergipe, E. by Sergipe and the Atlantic, S. by Espirito Santo and Minas Geraes, and W. by Minas Geraes and Goyaz. Its area is 164,650 sq. m., a great part of which is an arid barren chapada (plateau), traversed from S. to N. and N.E. by the drainage basin of the São Francisco river, and having a general elevation of 1000 to 1700 ft. above that river, or 2300 to 3000 ft. above sea-level. On the W. the chapada, with an elevation of 2300 ft. and a breadth of 60 m., forms the western boundary of the state and the water-parting between the São Francisco and the Tocantins. East of the São Francisco it may be divided into three distinct regions: a rough limestone plateau rising gradually to the culminating ridges of the Serra da Chapada; a gneissose plateau showing extensive exposures of bare rock dipping slightly toward the coast; and a narrower plateau covered with a compact sandy soil descending to the coastal plain. The first two have a breadth of about 200 m. each, and are arid, barren and inhospitable, except at the dividing ridges where the clouds from the sea are deprived of some of their moisture.
The third zone loses its arid character as it approaches the coast, and is better clothed with vegetation. The coastal plain varies in width and character: in some places low and sandy, or swampy, filled with lagoons and intersecting canals; in others more elevated, rolling and very fertile. The climate corresponds closely to these surface features, being hot and dry throughout the interior, hot and humid, in places unhealthy, along the coast. Cattle-raising was once the principal industry in the interior, but has been almost extinguished by the devastating droughts and increasing aridity caused by the custom of annually burning over the campos to improve the grass. In the agricultural regions sugar, cotton, tobacco, cacáo, coffee, mandioca and tropical fruits are produced. The exports also include hides, mangabeira rubber, piassava fibre, diamonds, cabinet woods and rum. The population is largely of a mixed and unprogressive character, and numbered 1,919,802 in 1890. There is but little immigration and the vegetative increase is low. The capital, São Salvador or Bahia (q.v.), which is one of the principal cities and ports of Brazil, is the export town for the Reconcavo, as the fertile agricultural district surrounding the bay is called.
The principal cities of the state are Alagoinhas and Bom Fim (formerly Villa Nova da Rainha) on the main railway line running N. to the São Francisco, Cachoeira and Santo Amaro near the capital in the Reconcavo, Caravellas and Ilheos on the southern coast, with tolerably good harbours, the former being the port for the Bahia & Minas railway, Feira de Santa Anna on the border of the sertão and long celebrated for its cattle fairs, and Jacobina, an inland town N.W. of the capital, on the slopes of the Serra da Chapada, and noted for its mining industries, cotton and tobacco. The state of Bahia includes four of the original captaincies granted by the Portuguese crown - Bahia, Paraguassú, Ilheos and Porto Seguro, all of which reverted to the direct control of that government in 1549. During the war with Holland several efforts were made to conquer this captaincy, but without success. In 1823 Bahia became a province of the empire, and in 1889 a state in the republic. Its government consists of a governor elected for four years, and a general assembly of two chambers, the senators being elected for six years and the deputies for two years.
(A. J. L.)