Alagoas, Brazil Economy

Alagoas, Brazil Economy

Agriculture and farming

About half of the active population of Alagoas is employed in the primary sector. The main activity, the large commercial crop, is found in the forest area, especially where the humus-rich soils predominate. The sugar cane culture is the main element of the landscape. The plantations cover the clayey soils of the hills and hills and the floodplains of the rivers. Also large commercial crops are the monoculture of rice, in the alluviums of the lower São Francisco, and that of the coconut, in the sands of the seafront. Still in the microregion of the forest, small commercial crops are developed linked to the supply of urban centers. Agreste is an almost exclusive domain of these small crops (tobacco, corn, cassava, beans, cotton).

In the sertão, agriculture is reduced to the subsidiary activity of creation, limited to small subsistence crops practiced especially on the slopes of the mountains of Água Branca and Mata Grande, thanks to the relief rains that occur there. Cattle breeding has a certain size in the interior, especially in the transition area from Agreste to Sertão, where dairy farming is carried out (Jacaré dos Homens, Major Isidoro and Batalha).

With many lakes, several rivers and an extensive maritime coast, the state has considerable wealth of fish, the use of which, however, is still done according to traditional practices.


According to Securitypology, the main industrial activities are the manufacture of food products, especially sugar (there are numerous plants in the microregion of the forest) and fabrics (Maceió, Rio Largo, São Miguel dos Campos, Palmeira dos Índios and Delmiro Gouveia). In recent years, as a result of the action of Sudene (Superintendence of Development of the Northeast), the industrial park has been diversified and expanded.

Alagoas is the largest national producer of asbestos, which is extracted in Jirau do Ponciano. It also produces an appreciable amount of oil and natural gas in five fields (Tabuleiro do Martins, Miguel dos Campos, Coqueiro Seco and two more on the underwater platform). The oil fields in Alagoas produced an annual average of around 700,000m3 of oil in the early 1990s. In the vicinity of Maceió, in the Pontal da Barra region, large deposits of rock salt were discovered, the exploration of which opens up important prospects for economic development to the state, under the responsibility of one of Sudene’s largest projects, Salgema Indústrias Químicas, responsible for fifty percent of chlorine consumed in the country and more than a third of all demand for caustic soda in the 1980s.

The possibilities of collection in the vegetable environment are reduced due to the physiographic situation of the state, which is part of the Northeast region. Even so, some vegetable products can be mentioned: tucum, caroá, piassaba, angico peel, cashew nut and sisal, the latter already partially planted.

Energy and transport

The state has ample energy resources, ensured by the hydroelectric plant of Paulo Afonso, installed on the border of the states of Bahia, Alagoas and Pernambuco. More than a quarter of annual energy consumption is for industrial use. Few of the roadways in Alagoas are paved and the state’s rail network is small. The most important highway is the BR-101, which connects Natal-Recife-Salvador. It is all paved, and along its route there is a railroad bridge over the São Francisco River. Much of the interior production flows to Maceió on the BR-316. The capital is the starting point of the Northeastern Railway Network, in the state. The trunk line forks into Rio Largo, launching a branch to the north and another to the west. The port of Maceió, the fourth in the Northeast for cargo handling, specializes in sugar exports.


Tourism has had great development in the state since the 1980s, when Maceió started to expand its hotel chain. In addition to its lagoons, where several recreational sites are located, Maceió has numerous beaches with rows of coconut palms and where you can see dozens of rafts (Ponta Verde, Pajuçara, Sobral and Pontal da Barra beaches). Typical food restaurants are a special attraction for tourists from all over the country. On the banks of the São Francisco, the historic city of Penedo preserves valuable artistic heritage in its churches from the 19th century. XVII. At the western end of the state are the national park of Paulo Afonso, with the waterfall of the same name.

Alagoas, Brazil Economy