Pernambuco, Or Recife

olinda reef miles british city

PERNAMBUCO, or RECIFE, a city and seaport of Brazil and the chief town of the extensive province of Pernambuco. As it is situated on the coast in 8° 3' 27" 5: lat. and 34° 50' 14" W. long. (Fort Picao), not far from the point where the continent begins to trend towards the south-west, it is naturally the first port visited by steamers `roar Lisbon to Brazil. The reef, which can be traced more or less distinctly along the Brazilian seaboard for several hundred miles, rises at Pernambuco into a perfectly straight artificial-looking wall, 31 miles long, with even PERNAMBUCO-RECIFE 511 sides and a smooth and almost level top from 30 to 60 yards in width. It is of a hard pale-coloured sandstone, breaking with a very smooth fracture ; and a tough layer of calcareous matter, generally several inches thick, produced by the successive growth and death of the small shells of Serpuhe with some few barnacles and nullipores, proves so effectual a protection of the outer surface that though it is exposed to the full force of the waves of the open Atlantic the oldest pilots know of no tradition of change in its appearance.' The belt of water within the reef is about a mile in width and forms a safe but rather shallow harbour ; vessels drawing 191 feet can enter, and there is abundant room for mooring along the shore and reef, but mail-steamers usually anchor in the roads and discharge by means of lighters. Sir John Hawkshaw's scheme for the improvement of the harbour (1874) was rejected by the Government as too costly ; but extensive dredging operations are being prosecuted. The city of Pernambuco lies low, and is surrounded by a swampy stretch of country, with no high ground nearer than the hill on which Olinda is built, 8 miles to the north. It used to be considered the most pestilential of Brazilian seaports ; but its sanitary condition has greatly improved, partly owing to drainage-works executed by an English company. There are three natural divisions in the city - Recife ("the Reef "), situated not on the reef proper but on an island forming the southern end of a sandbank that stretches north towards Olinda ; Sant' Antonio, on a peninsula separated from the island by the united waters of the Capibaribe and the Biberibe; and Boa Vista, the fashionable residential district on the mainland opposite Sant' Antonio. In Recife the streets are narrow and crooked and many of the houses are of great age and present Dutch characteristics ; but Sant' Antonio has broad straight streets, with well-paved side-walks, tramways (worked by mules), and modern-looking houses. Among the public buildings in Pernambuco it is enough to mention the governor's palace, the episcopal palace, the hospital of Pedro II. (5000 patients per annum, with French sisters of mercy as nurses), the foundling hospital, the poorhouse, the new lunatic asylum (1881), the university (18 professors and 530 students in 1879), the normal school, and the provincial library (13,000 vols., 11,581 readers, in 1880). The great commercial staple is sugar, and the brown sticky nmd of the streets owes its peculiar character to the juice of the cane ; 825,711 bags of sugar were brought to the market in 1875-76 and 1,715,637 bags in 1879-80. Cotton, which was first exported in 1778 and continued a small item till 1781, now holds the second place,-130,925 bales in 1875-76 and 60,117 in 1879-80. Coal began to be imported in 1834, - 25,314 tons in 1879-80. The total value of the exports and imports has greatly increased.

The port was opened to British vessels in 1808, and goods, which formerly had to pass through Portugal, began to be brought to England direct. A cemetery for British subjects was opened in 1814, a British hospital in 1821. and a British chapel in 1836. In 1880, out of a total of 1047 vessels (674,227 tons) calling at Pernambuco 451 (249,912 tons) were British. Pernambuco is connected with Olinda by a steam-tramway line and with Caxanga (8-1 miles) by a mule-tramway ; the Recife and San Francisco Railway (1856-62) runs 78 miles to Tina, and is continued by a narrow-gauge line to Garanhuns ; and another narrow line strikes up the Capibaribe 52 miles to Limoeiro. In 1878 the population of the town and immediate suburbs was 94,493.

The name of Pernambuco (peva, "a stone," nambuco, " pierced") appears to have been originally applied to Itamaraea (a town in 7° 44' S. lat., now decayed, but formerly the capital of an independent captaincy), where also there is an opening in the reef. In 153'2 Deane Coelho founded the city of Olinda, which continued to be the capital of the captaincy of Pernambuco till 1710. When in 1580 the country passed into the hands of Spain it had 700 stone houses, 4000 to 5000 negro slaves were employed in its sugar-plantations, and from 40 to 50 vessels came annually to load with sugar and Brazil wood, often called simply Pernambuco or Fernambuk. Recife, which was a mere collection of fishers' huts when occupied by the French under Villegagnon in 1561, shortly afterwards began to attract attention as a port. It was captured and held for thirty-four days in 1595 by Sir JAMES LANCASTER (q.v.), who did not, however, succeed in his attack on Olinda. In the 17th century this part of Brazil was the scene of a great struggle between the Spaniards and the Dutch. Olinda and Recife were captured by the Dutch under Admiral Lone(' in 1630, and in the following year, when they were obliged to retreat to the reef, they left Olinda in flames. Fort Brun was built in 1631. In 1639 (Recife already containing '2000 houses) Count Maurice laid out a new town (Mauritsstad) on the island of Antonio Vaz, and built himself a palace (Vrijburg or Sans Souci) of materials obtained by the demolition of Olinda. A brid,,tve was thrown across from Recite to Mauritsstad, and another from Mauritsstad to the mainland, where the count had his summer palace of Schoonzigt or Boa Vista. An observatory was erected under .Maregraf and De Laet. In 1654 the Dutch garrison, neglected by the authorities at home, who were at war with Cromwell, was obliged to capitulate to the Portuguese (26th January).

See J. 13. Fernandes Gams, Mem. hist. tea Prov. de Pernambuco (Pernambuco, 1844); Barheus, Berton is Brasilia gesta•um hislo•ia (N(10); and Netscher, "Les liollandais au Bresil," in Le Moniteur des lades Orieut. el Occid. (1848-49).

Pernau [next] [back] Perm

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Popular Pages