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Pernambuco - Geography
The geographic profile of Pernambuco is divided in three parts: the littoral, a mountain chain called Borborema and the western plateau, prolongation of the Borborema towards west.
The entire coast of Pernambuco is lined with reefs (in Portuguese, recifes), origin of the name of the capital city, Recife; the coastal lowlands (called Zona da Mata, or Zone of Forests) go from the sea to the Borborema, about 70 km away. Many small hills exist in the littoral, and the valleys between them, subject to periodic washings, have a very fertile soil, called massape, to which cane adapts very well.
The Borborema goes from the north of Minas Gerais to the south of Rio Grande do Norte; in Pernambuco, the altitude of Borborema varies from 500 m at the eastern border to 1,000 m in the central area to 600 m at the western border; the city of Garanhuns, in the southern part of Barbarema, attracts tourists because of the cold climate (also, the city is birth place of President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva).
To the west of Borborema, the region is known as sertão; it´s much less populated, because of the arid climate and little pluviosity.
The profile coast (Zona da Mata) - transition (agreste) - sertão is common to some other states covered by the Borborema, like Alagoas and Paraíba.
In the littoral, climate is tropical humid; average yearly temperature is 25 degrees Celsius, and pluviosity is aroung 1,500 mm, with rainy season in the autumn and winter (from March through July).
In the sertão, climate is semi-arid; temperatures range from about 23 degrees near the Borborema to 25 degrees in the western border. Pluviosity is not only low (around 600 mm), but also irregular; wet season is summer (December through March), but rains often come late or don´t come at all; the sertão of Pernambuco is included in the Polygon of Drought.
The transition zone, the agreste, mixes traces of the humid littoral and the dry sertão; some areas with high pluviosity are called brejos.
All the area western of Borborema was once covered by the Atlantic Forest (origin of the denomination Zona da Mata); the area was devastated to give place to plantations, pasture and urbanization, and today little of the original forest is left.
The vegetation characteristic of the sertão is the caatinga, composed of plants adapted to the dry climate.
In the agreste, the vegetation is, also, a transition between the forest and the caatinga.
Rivers of Pernambuco may be divided into two groups: rivers which flow towards the Atlantic (Una, Ipojuca, Capiberibe) and rivers which flow towards the river São Francisco.
The rivers are little used for navigation. Most smaller rivers dry out completely during the dry season.
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