Situated in the north east of Brazil; as well as being well known for its extensive coastlines (extending for 356 miles), mountains and valleys; Ceara state has been an area of strong economic growth - particularly around it's capital, Forteleza (where an increasing amount of European and American investors own property and land). The region is bordered to the east by Rio Grande do Norte and Paraiba states; to the south by Pernambuco state and to the west by Piaui.
Early Portuguese colonisation occurred in 1604 and, despite two unsuccessful invasions by the Netherlands, was formerly inaugurated as a state in 1799 (previously being a dependent of Pernambuco). The state was vehemently involved in the fight for Brazilian independence in the 19th century and it was the one of the first regions to abolish slavery. It was the reign of Dom Pedro II that significant advances were made in the states infrastructural development - including the Baturité train line from Fortaleza to Senador Pompeu and the Sobral line from the port of Camocim to Ipu - as well as basic sanitation and gas supplies.
The rivers of the area are relatively small compared to other states - with the largest being the Jaguaribe that runs through the state in a north eastern direction. For this reason (combined with a longer dry season), the soils are also not as fertile as compared to other parts of Brazil - with the exceptions of municipalities located in the southern regions such as Salitre, Araripe, Santa do Cariri, Crato and Nova Olinda. However, due to an historical track record of droughts, the dams that have been constructed througout the region (including the Castanhão and the Orós) have enabled Ceara to optimise its agricultural growth capabilities. Today the region is a strong producer of cashews, rubber, carnahuba wax, caju wine, cotton, coffee, mandioca, handicrafts and tropical fruits as well having rapidly growing cattle raising and oil industries.
Tourism clearly also plays an important part of the areas economy, with over half a million people visiting annually - a charateristic that continues to rise due to infrastructural improvements to support the rising numbers (Fortaleza was selected as one of the cities to host matches of the 2014 World Cup which looks set to further boost visitor levels). The states eco-tourism industry is also developing - particularly amongst the rainforests and waterfalls located in Araripe, Ibiapaba, Meruoca and Guaramiranga. Other prime tourist visiting areas include the Canoa Quebrada, the Morro Branco, the Praia Do Futuro and Jeriocoacoare as well as its secluded beaches and wide open spaces throughout, popular for adventure sports enthusiasts.
The region is home to several higher education establishments including the Federal University of Ceara (Universidade Federal do Ceara, UFC); the State University of Ceara (Universidade Estadual do Ceara, UECE); the University of Fortaleza (Universidade de Fortaleza, UNIFOR); the University of Acaraú Valley (Universidade do Vale do Acaraú, UVA); and the Regional University of Cariri (Universidade Regional do Cariri, URCA). Health services are above average, particularly close to Fortaleza city which has some nationally reputable hospitals.