Portuguese explorers first arrived in Bahia in 1500 and thus discovered Brazil. Due to the many opportunities that Brazil offered – and continues to offer – it was quickly colonised.

This country of continental dimensions grew in population, became independent, consolidated and became the biggest economy in Latin America and the ninth largest economy in the world.

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More than 500 years later, the best place from which to discover Brazil is still Bahia. It is the sixth largest economy out of the country’s 26 states and it boasts several advantages which make it one of the best places in Brazil in which to invest. These include: low-cost primary resources; a location that favours logistics; infrastructure; and a good offering of qualified labour.

Consumer power

Brazil is an emerging market. Every year, 4.5 million Brazilians join ‘class C’ in consumer power. This means that every two years, a consumer population the size of a country such as Singapore is created within Brazil. And within Brazil, Bahia is the state with the sixth strongest consumer power, accounting, for example, for 4.77% of the consumption of all Brazilian families. The state consumes and spends a total of $29,622bn a year in durable goods alone.

Bahia boarders eight Brazilian states, making it a strategic point for the country’s southern regions – which are the principal suppliers of input and centres of consumption in Brazil – as well as for the west, northern and northeastern states. Bahia’s infrastructure and logistical conditions offer the opportunity to reduce costs while increasing mobility and efficiency in the distribution of products all over Brazil, Mercosul, Latin America, Europe and Africa.

Record exports

Because of these advantages, even with the global financial crisis of the final trimester of 2008 and an unfavourable exchange rate during most of the year, Bahian exports hit a record $8.7bn last year. This exceeded 2007’s figure by 17.4%, according to Promo, the Centre for International Commerce in Bahia, linked to the Secretary of Industry, Commerce and Mining.

Bahian imports totalled $6.5bn, accumulated between January and December last year. This resulted in the state’s commercial income of $2.2bn, an increase of 9%, while the income of the commercial sector reached $15.2bn.

To keep up the pace of this growth, Bahia is investing in the creation of a new port complex, Porto Sul, which will include a port, railway, waterways, roads and an international airport with industrial capacity. Porto Sul will also offer support for Brazil’s southern states, where several ports are in a compromised situation, such as those in Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo and São Paulo. The Porto Sul Complex railway line will link the west and east of the country as well as joining various inland states with the coast. It will transform Bahia into a new commercial corridor for domestic and international trade and aggregate new hubs of industry, commerce and services.

Industrial naval centre

Bahia’s Bay of All Saints also has the biggest deep water gulf, embraced by the Atlantic Ocean. It is the second biggest navigable bay in the world and one of the best locations in Brazil for the siting of ports, harbours and nautical activities. It is here that an industrial naval centre is being set up; an enterprise aimed at the construction of petroleum platforms, including semi-submersives, Floating, Production, Storage and Offtake (FPSO) ships, drilling platforms, oil tankers and other types of vessels.

Tourism is the fastest-growing economic activity in Bahia. Foreign groups predict investments of about $5.7bn in the hotel industry between now and 2013.

Salvador, the capital of Bahia, was the first capital of Brazil and is its third largest metropolis, with 2.8 million inhabitants. It is one of the most beautiful and pleasant cities in the world, with an average annual temperature of 25˚C, not to mention a rich history. The city unites the legacies left by people of various continents, resulting in a mixture of cultures, rich cuisine and hospitable inhabitants.

Architecturally, Salvador is similar to the Portuguese cities of Porto and Lisbon, due to its colonisation, and it preserves significant characteristics of the Lusitanian architecture of the 17th century.

In 1985, Unesco named the historic centre of Salvador, known as the Pelourinho, as a World Heritage Site.