Pará, Brazil Overview

Para in Tupi means sea. It is the local name of the right arm of the Amazon River, which, when it merges with Tocantins, widens beyond measure. Hence the name Grão-Pará, the name of the captaincy created in 1616. The oceanic image evokes the immensity of the territory and the rivers that furrow the Amazon.

According to, the state of Pará is located in the North, where it occupies an area of ​​1,253,165 km2, and is crossed from west to east by the Amazon River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean, in the northeast of the state. It is limited to the north with Guyana, Suriname and the state of Amapá, to the south with Mato Grosso, to the northwest with Roraima, to the west, Amazonas, and to the east with Maranhão and Tocantins. Its capital is Belém.

Physical geography

Geology and relief

The modest Paraense relief is formed by large flat or wavy surfaces. About 86% of the state’s territory is below 300m above sea level. Five relief units make up the morphological picture: (1) the alluvial or lowland plain; (2) the low tertiary plateau or terra firma; (3) the northern slope of the Central plateau; (4) the southern slope of the Guiana plateau; (5) and the coastal plain.

The floodplain or floodplain extends along the Amazon River and crosses the state from east to west. It consists of alluvial formations subject to periodic flooding. The low tertiary plateau or terra firma, formed by sedimentary terrains (sandstones), widens, to the north and south of the floodplain, with a tabular relief of approximately one hundred meters of altitude. The northern slope of the Central plateau extends to the south of the lower plateau and its undulating relief, carved in crystalline rocks, rises gradually towards Mato Grosso.

The southern slope of the Guianas plateau has a similar relief and rises gradually towards the border with the Guianas, along which the 900m altitude Tumucumaque mountain range rises. The coastal plain is dominated by the tabular relief of the coastal terraces, which, beaten by the waves of the sea, give rise to the formation of cliffs five, ten and twenty meters high. In the eastern portion of the island of Marajó the same relief features are observed. There, the occurrence of floods does not come, in any way, from the floods of the Amazon River, but from the difficult drainage of rainwater, due to the total regularity of the terrace surface. The western portion of the island, low and subject to flooding by river waters, integrates into the floodplain and can be seen as an inland delta, subject to alluvial deposition.


Typical in the region is the hot and humid climate, tempered by rain and lush vegetation. There are two seasons, marked by rainfall: summer, from July to October; and winter, from November to June, the time of great rains. Köppen’s Af and Am climates are observed in Pará. The Af, hot and super humid climate, only appears around the city of Belém. It registers an annual average temperature of 26.5o C, 2,800mm of rainfall and absence of a dry season. The maximum absolute temperature is around 35o C in January / February and the minimum is 19o C in September / October.

The monsoon-like Am climate dominates throughout the rest of the state, with an average annual temperature of 26.4o C, slightly reduced rainfall (2,000 to 2,500 mm annually) and the presence of a short and ill-defined dry season, from October to December. .


The three hydrographic basins of the state – the Amazon, Tocantins-Araguaia and the Northeast – occupy its total surface and make up an energy potential of 5,325MW. The hydrographic network is controlled by the Amazon River, the most flowing of the planet, with discharge equivalent to a quarter of the water poured into the oceans by all the rivers in the world.

Amazonas receives in the state of Pará, on the right bank, large fluents, such as Tocantins, Xingu and Tapajós. Among those on the left bank, much smaller, are Jari, Trombetas, Paru, Jamundá and Maicuru. The Gurupi River flows along the borders with Maranhão. In the floodplain of Amazonas, near the border with the state of Amazonas, there are numerous lakes, including the Grande, Grande do Curuaí, Itandeua and Poção. On the island of Marajó, there is also Lake Arari.

Flora and fauna

Practically the entire state territory is covered by the Amazon rainforest, which is divided into two types: the terra firma forest, where the chestnut tree occurs; and the lowland forest, where the rubber tree grows. It is also registered in Pará the occurrence of clean fields, in the floodplains of some of the rivers or on the island of Marajó, and of cerrados, in the low plateau of Santarém.

The vegetation is rich in products traditionally explored and which have already formed the basis of the regional economy: rubber and other latex-producing trees (sorva, maçaranduba), Brazil nut trees, hardwoods, mallow, various palms, timbó , guaxima and other fibers. With the opening of the great highways (Belém-Brasília, Transamazônica), the native forest was very devastated for the opening of fields for agriculture and livestock. As in the case of other regions of the Amazon, the aggressions to the environment raised constant complaints and concerns.

The fauna of Pará is the Amazon, one of the richest in the world. Fishing, practiced on a large scale, is predatory and poorly regulated. Some species of animals in the region are threatened with extinction, including mammals such as the otter, maned and manatee, as well as several species of turtle.


As it was established, the population of Pará was composed mainly of caboclos, resulting from the miscegenation of Indians and Europeans. From the 17th century onwards, the contingent of blacks was added. In the early 1990s, the state’s demographic density remained very low, but there were strong population gaps between the different areas.

The degree of urbanization in 1990 was still low, with the population divided roughly equally between urban areas and the countryside. The largest city is the capital, Belém, and the others are much smaller: Santarém (second city in the state), Marabá, Altamira, Itaituba, Castanhal, Abaetetuba, Bragança, Paragominas. Belém, a true regional metropolis of the Amazon, redistributes food and other consumer goods from other states and abroad across the Amazon. Under his direct influence are almost all the cities of Pará and some cities of Amazonas and Tocantins. Escape from this direct influence in the state, only a few municipalities that use Santarém and Macapá AP. More than half of the workforce is engaged in agricultural and extractive activities.

Pará, Brazil Overview