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Ceará - Geography

Ceará is in the zone of droughts. The area around the capital city, Fortaleza, is the one with highest pluviositiy averages, ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 mm per year; the other parts of the State sees levels under 1,000 mm per year, and even these are very irregular: in the past, years have gone by without one drop of rain. Temperatures are also high (Fortaleza lies almost right on the Equatorial Line): average annual temperatures are around 26o C.
Because of these tough conditions, most of the population are concentrated in two areas: the shoreline (besides Fortaleza, the other major city is Sobral) and the southeast (around Juazeiro do Norte and Crato).
Relief: the central area of Ceará is plane, with low altitudes; in the perimeter of the State (see map), besides the Atlantic Ocean in the north, is composed by mountain chains and Chapadas (flat top mountains with abrupt borders).
Vegetation: more than 90% of Ceará was once covered by caatingas, the kind of vegetation associated with the semi-arid climate; the caataingas have been affected by human interventions. The entire state is in a transition zone between the Atlantic Forest, to the east, and the Amazon Forest, to the west.
It must be observed that the main factor to prevent the flourishing of agriculture in the caatingas is the lack of water, not the quality of the soil. After prolongued periods without rain, the soil becomes very dry and most of vegetation dies; however, after just a few days of rain, the soil regains humidity, and the green reappears.
The most important river in Ceará is Jaguaribe; nearly all the rives in Ceará are intermitent (dry out during the periods of drought). Artificial lakes, called açudes, are built all around the State, to trap water from rives; the largest açudes are Orós (the biggest in Brazil) and Banabuiu. Fortaleza is one of the few capital cities in Brazil which was not built by a large river.

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