Capital:São Luís
Area:333,366 km²
Inhabitants:5,642,960 (2000)
Pop. density:17 inh./km²
ISO 3166-2:BR-MA

Maranhão is one of the states of Brazil in the north-eastern region. To the north is the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Neighboring states are (from east clockwise) Piauí, Tocantins and Pará.

Major cities in the state besides the state capital São Luís are

The Alcantara spaceport is located in the north of the state, not far from São Luís.


Despite the fact that the state capital São Luís was founded by the French in 1612 it is said to be the Brazilian state capital which most look like a Portuguese city. The historic city center has been declared a world heritage site in 1977. The French lost the city in 1614 to the Portuguese.

In 1621 Ceará, Maranhão and Pará were united and called the Estado do Maranhão. It stayed independent until 1774, when it became administrated by colonial Brazil. Maranhão did not join in the Brazilian declaration of independence of 1822, but in the following year the Portuguese were driven out by Admiral Lord Cochrane and it became part of the Empire of Brazil.


The flag of Maranhão was designed by the poet Joaquim de Souza Andrade, and was adopted by decree nr. 6, of December 21, 1889. The colored strips symbolize the different ethnic groups which make up the population, and their mixing and living together. The white star in the upper left corner symbolizes Maranhão itself, and is supposed to be Beta Scorpii, as the constellation Scorpius is also depicted on the national flag of Brazil. The flag has a ratio of 2:3.

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