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Paraíba - Economy and Infrastructure
History of Paraíba
Primary sector. The main economic activity of Paraíba is the plantation of cane, which is processed in usinas constructed in the largest farms; for centuries, the cane was used for production of white sugar, but today a large proportion is directed to the production of alcohol fuel. Most plantations are distributed along the coast, but there are a few smaller farms in the agreste which produce
and rapadura (large tablets of brown sugar, highly energetic, largely consumed by the poor population).
In the agreste and humid areas of the Borborema, there is cultivation of beans and manioc, usually just for subsistence (beans and manioc flour, along with corn, can be stocked up for long periods, and constitute the basic food items of most families) or trading in local fairs. Corn is more common in the sertão, along with cotton and other tough plants, adapted to dry climates, like agave and sisal.
The areas along the river Curumataú have a concentration of cattle ranchs; in the far west, the raising of caprines is more common than of bovines (goat has been present in the cuisine of Paraíba since long ago; more recently, when it has been shown that goat is not only saborous, but healthy, the habit has been spreading to other States).
Industries and Services. The industrialization of Paraíba gained some impulse with SUDENE (an Agency for Development of Brazilian Northeast), in the 1960s, but the lack of natural resources and and consumer markets prevented a greater development. Industries installed in João Pessoa and Campina Grande produce textiles, food and drink, furniture and others destined mostly to the local and regional markets; companies in the agreste sertão have presence in leather and minerals industrialization.
The largest company established in Paraíba is CIPASA (Cimentos da Paraíba S.A., a subsidiary of giant Brazilian group
Votorantim), a cement producer with head offices in the city of Caaporã, with a business volume of about US$ 212 million in 2003; CIPASA ranked #391 among the largest Brazilian corporations. Amongst the Top 500 in Brazil, the only other company from Paraíba is
SAELPA - Sociedade Anônima de Eletrificação da Paraíba
(#488), the distributor of electricity in the State, with US$ 162 million in business in 2003.
Tourism. João Pessoa is a growing tourist destination among Brazilians, who are attracted by the charm of a sunny coastal city without urban violence; the touristic infrastructure is permanently improving, and publicitary campaigns are divulgating the attractions of the city and State: beaches, sun, pure air (João Pessoa claims to be the city with most green area per habitant in Brazil), culinary, culture.
Campina Grande disputes with Caruaru, in Pernambuco, not only the title of most important city in the sertão of Brazil, but also the honour of biggest
in the world; besides, thanks to the excellence of their two universities, Campina Grande is becoming an important technological cluster of Brazil.
Paraíba imports all the energy consumed; Paulo Afonso, in Bahia, supplies most of it. The two most important roads are BR-101, along the coast, and BR-230, going from João Pessoa to Campina Grande and on until Cajazeiras. There is an airport in João Pessoa, and a port in Cabedelo.
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