Salvador (sălˈvədôrˌ, Port. səlvəħôrˈ) [key] or Bahia bəēˈyə, formerly São Salvador souN, city (1991 pop. 2,075,273), capital of Bahia state, E Brazil, a port on the Atlantic Ocean. It is the commercial center of a fertile crescent (the Recôncavo ) and a shipping point for the cacao district to the south. Other exports include tobacco, sugar, hardwoods, industrial diamonds, oil, and aluminum. Salvador is also a fashionable tourist center. Despite the abundance of electrical energy, industrialization has proceeded slowly. Food processing, metallurgy, and woodworking are leading industries. The city, built on a peninsula, is divided into two sections connected by graded roads, elevators, and cable cars. As the main center of candomblé, which mixes Catholic and African religious beliefs and dieties, Salvador is known as the "Black Rome."
Founded in 1549, Salvador flourished with the development of sugar plantations and became the leading center of colonial Brazil. The resulting influx of black African slaves made the area notable for its African heritage in music, dance, folk customs, religion, and cuisine. Briefly under Dutch occupation (1624–25), the city was the capital of the Portuguese possessions in America until 1763. It still contains many buildings and fortifications from the colonial period. In the early 19th cent. it was a center of the Brazilian independence movement. In 1912 it was bombarded and heavily damaged by federal forces during factional struggles.
Salvador's intellectual and cultural vitality was manifested by such famous bahianos as Ruy Barbosa, the statesman; Antônio de Castro Alves, the poet; and Jorge Amado, the novelist. Points of interest include a 16th-century cathedral (one of the city's many notable churches), two universities, art and other museums, and agricultural institutes. Salvador has a naval base.