Whereas elegant Rio de Janeiro and cosmopolitan São Paulo may be the best-known places in Brazil, the Northeast, or Nordeste is one of the liveliest - a land of sunny beaches, colonial towns, vibrating street parties, music and friendly people.
Nine states comprise the Northeast region, counting along the coast from the south:
Despite being grouped together, culturally and geographically speaking some of those states can be very far apart from each other.
The Northeast is the sunniest of Brazilian regions. Although this may mean long periods of drought for the mainly agricultural inland of some states (and thus crop losses and widespread poverty), the climate also provides almost year-round opportunities for beach-going and other outdoor activities. Long favoured by Brazilian holiday makers, the Northeast has also become increasingly popular with European travellers, especially from Portugal, Spain and Italy due to language and cultural similarities.
The region was also the original site of European colonization in Brazil. The first Europeans landed in Bahia, set up the country's first capital in Salvador, and over the next centuries brought millions of slaves from Africa to the region. Added to the indigenous population, the result is a fascinating rich cultural mix that makes up some often unknown faces of Brazilian culture.
The largest airports are Salvador, Recife and Fortaleza, which provide easy access to most of Brazil. There are some international flights too, but nothing compared to Rio or Sao Paulo. At present, construction is under way in Natal of what is supposed to be the largest airport in Brazil.