What you need to know about Recife
Recife is the fourth-largest urban agglomeration in Brazil, the largest urban agglomeration of the North/Northeast Regions, and the capital and largest city of the state of Pernambuco in the northeast corner of South America. The former capital of the 17th century colony of New Holland of Dutch Brazil, established by the Dutch West India Company. Recife was founded in 1537, during the early Portuguese colonization of Brazil, as the main harbor of the Captaincy of Pernambuco, known for its large scale production of sugar cane. The city is named for the long reef recife running parallel to the shoreline which encloses its harbour. The reef is not as sometimes stated, a coral reef, but a consolidated ancient beach, now as firm and hard as stone. The city is located at the confluence of the Beberibe and Capibaribe rivers before they flow into the South Atlantic Ocean. It is a major port on the Atlantic. Its name is an allusion to the stone reefs that are present by the city’s shores. The many rivers, small islands and over 50 bridges found in Recife city centre characterise its geography and led to the city being called the “Brazilian Venice”. As of 2010, it is the capital city with the highest HDI in Northeast Brazil and second highest HDI in the entire North and Northeast Brazil (second only to Palmas)
Population: 1 650 109
Area: 2,768 km2
Recife began as a collection of fishing shacks, inns and warehouses on the delta between the Capibaribe and Beberibe Rivers in the captaincy of Pernambuco, sometime between 1535 and 1537 in the earliest days of Portuguese colonisation of Terra de Santa Cruz, later called Brazil, on the northeast coast of South America. It was a settlement of colonial fishermen and way station for Portuguese sailors and passing ships. Olinda in Recife was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. Recife was the most cosmopolitan city in America during the John Maurice of Nassau government.
The first documented reference to the settlement with its “arrecife dos navios” (reef of the ships) was in the royal Charter Act of March 12, 1537, establishing Olinda, 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) to the north, as a village, with its port where the Beberibe River meets the sea. Olinda (and Igarassu before it) had been settled in 1536 by Captain General Duarte Coelho, a Portuguese nobleman, proprietor and administrator of the captaincy of Pernambuco.
The city is named for the long reef recife running parallel to the shoreline which encloses its harbour. The reef is not as sometimes stated, a coral reef, but a consolidated ancient beach, now as firm and hard as stone.
According to 2013 IBGE statistics, the GDP was at R$46,445,339,000. And the GDP per capital was at R$29,037.
Recife is one of Brazil’s prime business centers, largely because it has one international airport and two international seaports. One is located in the town itself, and the other, the port of Suape, is located about 40 kilometres (25 miles) away. Just south of Recife is the region’s main industrial area, where the following industries can be found: brewing and canning, shipbuilding, automotive, electronics, tube manufacturing, chocolate manufacturing, textiles, etc.
Recife has shared in the prosperity of Northeastern Brazil that resulted from development promoted after 1960 by Sudene (Superintendência para o Desenvolvimento do Nordeste), a federal agency / organization. Although its retail and wholesale trade have grown in response to the region’s increases in population and wealth, the market area and the walkways of the city’s bridges are crowded with informal traders selling small items.
Tourism and recreation
Celebrations, holidays and other events are numerous throughout the year. The New Year begins at the beach, Praia de Boa Viagem and in Old Recife. The carnival of Recife and Olinda (which has its historic town centre considered a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1982) begins many weeks ahead in December with innumerable balls and parades.
In the city, the carnival festivities begin in December, as locals begin preparing for the official Carnival, which starts the week before Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday in the Christianliturgical calendar. The pre-Carnival parties usually consist of percussion groups practising in local clubs, city streets and squares, and even Carnival balls. There is a variety of rhythms from different cultures. Carnival officially starts with the Galo da Madrugada, a party in Downtown Recife that attracts many people from several states of Brazil, and other parts of the world.
The language spoken in Recife and Brazil is Portuguese. The Portuguese settled Brazil, which remained a colony of Portugal until 1822. Today, the Portuguese language is spoken by more than 200 million people. It is the eighth most spoken language in the world.
Recife Metro is one of the largest metro systems in Brazil. It reaches from Recife central station to Jaboatão, Timbi (Camaragibe) and Cajueiro Seco (Jaboatão dos Guararapes), being complemented by a light rail, with connections at Curado and Cajueiro Seco stations, which links Recife and Jaboatão to Cabo de Santo Agostinho. This system is also integrated with bus terminals such as at Barro, Joana Bezerra and Tancredo Neves stations. It is possible to ride the metro and the connected bus line by purchasing one ticket only. Guararapes International Airport, also known as Gilberto Freyre International Airport, is the airport serving Recife. It has been open in its newest structure since July 2004 and is 52,000 square m in area.
The State Governor Eduardo Campos introduced the PESP plan (Security state Plan – Plano Estadual de Seguranca Publica) on 2 May 2009. This aimed to reduce homicides by 12% each year until they reached half of the previous rate. The plan was based on the fact that 60% of murders were committed by people related to criminal activities and embraces both prevention and correction.
- Make eye contact with those around you, even as you walk through the streets and marketplaces, or travel on public transport. This is considered to be normal and polite. It is also a safety measure, as pickpocket thieves are known to prey on those who do not make eye contact (since they can, presumably, not identify the people around them and the perpetrator of the crime).
• Be a careful, alert pedestrian, looking carefully before crossing the street. This is a busy country, with plenty of traffic.
• Leave the bulk of your money and important paperwork (passport, driver’s licence, etc…) in a safe place at your accommodation. Carry only the money you need for the day with you. If necessary, make photocopies of your paperwork to carry with you and leave the originals at your hotel.
• Pickpocketing is, unfortunately, a threat, particularly in bustling areas, full of locals and tourists making their way around the beautiful cities of Brazil. Therefore, when visiting a very busy area, do not wear valuable jewellery (including wristwatches) and do not carry cameras, money and wallets anywhere in or from which they can easily be seen or taken.
- If you are the victim of any sort of crime, be sure to report it to the tourist police immediately.
• If you are going to be visiting a busy area, wear your backpack backwards, so that it hangs on your chest, not behind you.
• Always check with your hotel if certain areas are safe, or if they advise that you do not visit them. Take their advice to heart.
• Get a taxi rather than a bus for long distance travel. They are reasonably priced and safe.
• Brazilian locals are generally very helpful and often quite friendly. Accept their help if they offer it to you.
• If you need to draw money, choose an ATM inside a mall or bank rather than one on the street.
• Wear walking shoes (not hiking boots), shorts and a plain T-shirt to fit in with the locals.
- Get drunk. Brazilians are not often drunk and do not respect others that indulge in far too much alcohol.
• Do drugs. It is illegal to use or be in possession of drugs in Brazil.
• Make use of prostitutes. They often supplement their income by robbing their clients.
• Opt for really cheap accommodation. Small accommodation providers are generally not willing to provide lodging for foreigners (which they may do, but begrudgingly) and may not offer the safety and conveniences of larger establishments.
• Leave your luggage, shopping or any other personal possessions unattended.
• Give money to beggars and street children. Although these ones pose little or no physical danger to you, they should not be supported financially.
• Walk in the streets or along the beaches after dark
Recife has a tropical climate, with warm to hot temperatures and high relative humidity throughout the year. However, these conditions are relieved by pleasant westwardly trade winds blowing in from the ocean. January and February are the warmest months, with sun. July is the cloudiest month and experiences the coolest temperatures. It is also the wettest month, receiving an average of 388 mm (15.3 in) of rain. To check weather today click here