Paraíba, Brazil Overview

Paraíba, Brazil Overview

Along with the boldness and patriotism of many of its children, which earned it a marked presence in many important episodes of national history, Paraíba also stands out for the authenticity of its folklore and for its natural beauty.

According to, the state of Paraíba is located in the Northeast region, where it occupies an area of ​​56,585km2 – 98% of which are located in the so-called Polígono das Secas . It is limited to the east with the Atlantic Ocean, to the north with Rio Grande do Norte, to the west with Ceará and to the south with Pernambuco. On the coast of Paraiba is the most easterly point in the Americas, Cabo Branco. The capital is João Pessoa.

Physical geography


Of the state territory, 82% are between 200 and 900m high and 18% below 200m. Three units make up the morphological picture: the coastal lowlands, the Borborema plateau and the western peneplane. The coastal lowland comprises an extension of sandstone trays to the east, and a narrow strip of crystalline, depressed and very flat terrain. Wide valleys cut across the coastal lowlands, with wide alluvial plains, the floodplains.

The Borborema plateau, with an average altitude of 800m, occupies, with its crystalline terrain, the entire central part of the state and extends to the north and south through Rio Grande do Norte and Pernambuco, respectively. To the west, its rim is tortuous, due to the great spur that launches in that direction, along the border with Pernambuco. On this projection of the plateau rises the Jabre peak, with an altitude of 1,090m. To the east, the plateau is bounded by a well-marked escarpment, roughly parallel to the coastline. The rivers that descend there, towards the Atlantic, have carved deep indentations in the escarpment, especially Paraíba, whose formations open a wide depression in the heart of the plateau.

The western peneplano, dominated by the western escarpment of Borborema, covers the western third of the state. It consists of a large area of ​​crystalline terrain, flat and depressed, from which small parallel ridges and numerous isolated peaks emerge.


Three climatic types occur in Paraíba: the humid tropical, with autumn-winter rains (As’), and the warm semi-arid (BSh), and the tropical with summer rains (Aw). The first occurs in the coastal lowlands and on the eastern edge of Borborema. Average annual temperatures range between 24o C, in the lowlands, and 22o C at the top of the plateau. The rainfall, of more than 1,500mm along the coast, in the interior falls to 800mm, on the edge of Borborema. Then, around the city of Areia, it rises again and reaches more than 1,400mm. The most humid stretch of Borborema, called Brejo, is one of the best agricultural areas in the state.

The semi-arid climate dominates the entire plateau, with the exception of the eastern bank. The rainfall is considerably reduced and its totals fall below 600, 400 and even 300mm. Cabaceiras has the lowest rainfall in the entire Northeast, 278mm. Scarce rains occur in the autumn and in some years they stop producing, which leads to drought. The tropical climate occurs in the lowered area of ​​the western peneplano. The annual average temperatures are the highest in the state: 26o C. The rains, more abundant than in the plateau, reach totals of 800mm per year and occur in the summer semester.


Three vegetal formations line the territory of Paraíba. In the coastal lowlands and the escarpment of Borborema, there is the tropical forest, which gave the name of the forest area to the coastal region. In the transition between the humid tropical climate and the semi-arid climate, the harsh appears. It is an intermediate vegetation between the caatinga and the forest, with species from both formations.

In the Brejo region, the wild gives way to the forest, due to the greater rainfall. In the rest of the interior, the caatinga dominates, which occupies about 85% of the state’s surface. Today, all these forms of vegetation are significantly modified by human interference.

Plant resources are limited: climatic reasons, above all, do not allow a richer floristic covering. The devastation of the forests to obtain firewood was considerable, but the barks of angico, ocicica and annatto seeds, and cashew nuts are still collected there. There is an appreciable amount of carnauba trees.


The hydrographic network comprises two systems. The first covers the rivers that descend from Borborema and run eastwards: Curimataú, Mamanguape, Paraíba and others. The second consists of the upper basin of the Piranhas or Açu river, which flows north, crossing Rio Grande do Norte. The waters of the western half of the state flow there. With the exception of rivers on the coast, all the rest are intermittent, that is, they only flow in the rainy season. As part of measures to combat drought, numerous rivers in the hinterland, of which the largest is that of Coremas, had their beds interrupted by the construction of dams.

Paraíba, Brazil Overview

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