São Luís (souN lōēshˈ) [key], city (1996 pop. 781,068), capital of Maranhão state, NE Brazil. It is a port city located on São Luís Island in São Marcos Bay of the Atlantic Ocean. São Luís is a trading and distribution center for the state's agricultural products and for the products of Teresina, in Piauí state. Industries in the city produce babassu oil, cacao, sugar, and canned fruits. Founded in 1612 by the French and named in honor of Louis XIII, São Luís was captured in 1615 by the Portuguese and was occupied by the Dutch from 1641 to 1644. A noted cultural center in the 19th cent., it was also considered a bourgeois stronghold and merchant's center, in contrast to the aristocratic city of Alcantara (an abandoned city that is now a national historic monument) across São Marcos Bay.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: South American Political Geography