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Introduction

Piauí is a state in the northeast of Brazil. Piauí has the shortest coastline of any of the non-landlocked Brazilian states at 66 kilometres, and the capital, Teresina, is the only state capital in the northeast to be located inland. The reason for this is, unlike the rest of the area, Piauí was first colonised inland and slowly expanded towards the ocean, rather than the other way around. In the southeast of the state, the National Park of Serra da Capivara is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park has more than 400 archaeological sites and the largest concentration of rock paintings in the world, in a landscape dominated by canyons and caatinga.

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Geography

Piauí is bounded on the west by Maranhão, on the east by Ceará, Pernambuco and Bahia, and on the south by Tocantins. It has a short Atlantic coastline on the north. The Parnaíba River forms the boundary with Maranhão throughout its entire length; the state lies almost entirely within the basin of the Parnaíba and its tributaries. Part of the state on the Atlantic coast and along the lower Parnaíba is low, swampy, and historically malarial. South of this the country rises gradually to a high plateau with open campos. This plateau region is watered by numerous tributaries of the Parnaíba, chief of which are, from south to north: the Poti, which has its source in the state of Ceará; the Longa; the Canindé and its tributary the Piauí, which is navigable for boats of one-meter draft up to Nova York, a few miles above the mouth of the Gurguéia. The river valleys are separated by flat-topped plateaus called chapadas, including the Serra Uruçui, which lies between the Uruçui-Preto and the Gurguéia, the Serra da Capivara National Park, which lies between the Gurguéia and the Piauí, and the Chapada das Mangabeiras, which forms the southwestern boundary of the state, separating the upper basin of the Parnaíba from that of the Tocantins.

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

  • The Parque Nacional de Sete Cidades is located between Teresina and Parnaíba (nearest town Piracuruca). Well worth a visit for its weird and wonderful rock formations and prehistoric cave paintings. There is a guesthouse located within the national park, and another, larger one, just outside the main gate. The best way to see the park is by bicycle, which can be rented at the visitor's center. Other options include walking (a warning: it gets very hot) or by car. In every case you must hire an official guide, who are all very friendly and well trained, although its doubtful any will speak more than rudimentary English. They are always available at the visitor's center.
  • The town of Pedro II, in the hills not far from Sete Cidades National Park. This is one of only two Opel producing areas in the world (the other is in Australia). The town is pleasant, sometimes called the "Switzerland of Piauí", somewhat of an exaggeration, but nice enough anyway and cooler than the rest of the state also. Visit the Opel mines, all mined by hand, with a local guide. Ask for one in any of the many stores selling Opel products. Pedro II is also known for its weaving, with many stores and workshops spread around town.
  • The Serra da Capivara is located in the remote south of the state where the arid Sertão begins to merge with the more Amazonian landscape of the west. Incredibly hard to get to but full of indigenous wildlife and some of the earliest evidence for human settlement in the Americas.

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Weather

The climate is hot and humid in the lowlands and along the lower Parnaíba, but in the uplands it is dry with high day-time temperatures and cool nights.

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Getting There

By Plane

Teresina and Parnaíba both have small airports receiving domestic flights. Both airports are accredited to receive international flights. An Italian charter airline has occasional flights to Parnaíba. Generally the fastest (not necessarily cheapest) way to reach Piauí from abroad is a direct flight to Fortaleza, Ceará, and a connecting flight to Teresina. Most international flights to Piauí are routed through first São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro and then Brasilia.

By Bus

Travel to Piauí in most cases will be by bus from other Brazilian states. Teresina has regular bus links to Fortaleza and São Luis and it is also possible to get a bus to Brasília or the big cities in the South-East (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte) but these destinations are over 48 hours away by bus and the roads entering South Piauí are in a terrible state.

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Eat

The Piauiense coastline is one of Brazil's main crab-producing areas so on the coast don't miss out on all the crab specialities. The state also grows a lot of cashew trees - you can eat the fruit, the toasted nuts and they even make alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks from the juice, not to mention caramelized sweets from the fruit itself.

Local specialities include:

  • Carne de sol - meat that has been preserved by the sun.
  • Baião de Dois – rice, beans, cheese and herbs
  • Maria Isabel – rice with sun dried meat
  • Panelada - Tripe
  • Linguiça do porco - a type of pork sausage

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Drink

Cajuína, a soft drink made from cashew fruit, is produced in Piaui. Caetano Veloso, one of Brazil's best-known singers, wrote a song about Piauiese cajuína.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 7:09 on May 23, 16 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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