Pará is a state in the north of Brazil. The state of Pará is home to the Amazon estuary, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It borders the Brazilian states of (clockwise from north) Amapá, Maranhão, Tocantins, Mato Grosso, Amazonas and Roraima. To the northwest it also borders Guyana and Suriname, and to the northeast it borders the Atlantic Ocean.
Pará is the most populous state of the northern region, with a population of over 7.5 million, being the ninth-most populous state in Brazil. It is the second-largest state of Brazil in area, with 1,2 million km², second only to Amazonas upriver. Its most famous icons are the Amazon River and the Amazon Rainforest. Pará produces rubber (extracted from natural rubber tree groves), tropical hardwoods such as mahogany, and minerals such as iron ore and bauxite. A new commodity crop is soy, cultivated in the region of Santarém.
Large tracts of Pará state suffer from illegal deforestation and land occupation, mostly due to cattle ranching and soya farming. There have been conflicts between government, indigenous tribes, the Caboclos who are mixed-race peasants of the area, and ranchers over land rights. The situation is unlikely to be resolved soon, particularly due to the demand for beef from Europe and soya from China.
The controversial Belo Monte Dam is a proposed hydroelectric dam complex to be built on the Xingu River; opponents believes that it threatens the habitat of a relatively undisturbed area of Pará's rainforest, and would endanger several endemic fish species. It also is likely to attract further development and migration to the state, to the detriment of the state's rainforest.
Pará has a hot and humid tropical climate. Temperatures are extremely consistent throughout the year and are around 31 °C during the day and around 23 °C at night. Like many places in the tropics, there is a significant wet season, though not a real dry season, just a drier season from June to November. Average precipitation is still around 150mm a month during that time though and from December to May this varies between 300mm and 450mm a month, peaking in March.
Val de Cães International Airport (BEL) near Belém serves as the main gateway by air and is located a short drive from the city.
Destinations include Cayenne, Brasilia, Fortaleza, Manaus, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Salvador, Paramaribo, Santarém, Sao Luis, Curitiba and Foz do Iguacu.
Among all the Brazilian states Pará has by far the heaviest influence of indigenous cooking. Many of these dishes will taste strange to an average European, but all are quite worth a try:
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