Geography of Fortaleza and CearáFortaleza
Economy of Ceará and Fortaleza
For centuries, the economy of Ceará was severely influenced by the adverse physical conditions (read Geography of Ceará).
Early in the History of Ceará, there was some exploration of natural wood (mainly pau-brazil), which soon exhausted.
Next, some coastal areas of Brazil prospered with the plantations of sugar cane; Ceará, however, with little and irregular raining, and a poor sandy soil, was not propitious for sugar cane. In the 18th century, gold was found in the central-southern States; Ceará was not benefited by the temporary gold rush, and still was put even more distant from the Administrative center of Brazil, which moved Southwards, from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro. In the 19th century, the main economic product of Brazil was the coffee, which adapted well to the soil of São Paulo and Paraná, but could not prosper in the dry lands of Ceará.
So, until the 20th century, Ceará was one of the poorest States in Brazil. The economy was based on the exploration of the very few natural resources: the large farms for extensive cattle raising, the salt produced in the eastern end of the coast, the plantation of some cultures which resisted the tough weather, such as beans, corn, macaxeira (not by coincidence, these are the ingredients of the local cuisine), cotton, some fruits.
It was only a few decades into the 20th century, when Brazil became a somewhat industrialized country, that Ceará (with political and financial support of the federal government) started to attract industrial investments, like in textile, shoes, food processing businesses. In the 1980s, petroleum was found off the coast. Also, Fortaleza firmed a position of main commercial hub in the area between the Northeast and North of Brazil, with influence on other capitals such as São Luís and Teresina; this fact permitted the creation of large commercial groups in Ceará.
In the last decades of the 20th century, Fortaleza started to manage the tourism sector in a more professional way. Private and pubic investments in infrastructure gave to the city a modern network of hotels and restaurants. Marketing campaigns were launched first in the southern States of Brazil, and more recently in other countries.
More important, the population of Fortaleza realized how important the tourism is for the Economy. People became even more friendly with visitors, and legislators started to give due attention to the matter.
In 2003, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics calculated the Gross Product of Ceará in R$ 28.425.175.000; this corresponds to a GNP per capita of R$ 3.618.
In 2005, the composition of the Gross Product of Ceará was: Agriculture and Farming: 6.6%; Industries: 37.3%; Services: 56.1% (this information provided by the Official Economic Agency of Ceará, at page 18 of this document).
In 2005, the biggest corporations established in Ceará were:
Vicunha Têxtil S/A (textile)
Companhia Energética do Ceará (Coelce) (the electricity company)
M. Dias Branco Indústria e Comércio de Alimentos Ltda. (food processing)
Agripec Química e Farmacêutica S/A (chemical and pharmaceutical for agribusiness)
Companhia de Água e Esgoto do Ceará (Cagece) (water and sewage)
Santa Clara Indústria e Comércio de Alimentos Ltda (food processing)
Vulcabras do Nordeste S/A (shoes - makers of world famous Havaianas slippers)
Norsa Refrigerantes Ltda (food processing - Coca Cola distributor)
Empreendimentos Pague Menos S/A (drugstore chain)
Grendene S/A (shoes)