Maceió (məsāôˈ) [key], city (1991 pop. 629,041), capital of Alagoas state, E Brazil, on a narrow strip of land between a lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean. Its port is at Jaraguá. Industries include sugar refining, metallurgy, textile production, and chemical processing. On the outskirts are coconut plantations. The city grew around a sugar mill following the Dutch occupation during the early 17th cent. The Portuguese gained control of Maceió in 1654. By the early 19th cent., it had developed as an important sugar export center, and in 1839 it became the provincial capital. Maceió is an important cultural center, with a federal university, a historical institute, and an academy of letters. The most outstanding landmark is a lighthouse in the center of the city. The Church of Bom Jesús dos Mártires is a notable example of Maceió's colonial architecture.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.