THE IV CENTENNIAL OF PARAIBA STATE
The 5th August, 1985, signalizes the IV Centennial of Paraíba State. This date represents one of the most important historical event of the beginning of the Brazilian colonization, which was the possession of the Capitania (a jurisdictional division corresponding to a province in colonial Brazil) with its economical disengagement from Pernambuco State, making possible the conquest of the rest of the north of Brazil up to Maranhao and resulting in the creation of the future states of Rio Grande do Norte and Ceará after 1585.
Historically the beginning of the Paraiba's colonization is indicated by the foundation of the city "Felipéia de Nossa Senhora das Neves", which in spite of its expansion and the frequent changement of its name - Felipéia, Frederica, Parahyba city and finally Joao Pessoa - kept its original features. Since the city is located between the river and the sea, very early the row of its houses spreads on the slopes of the elevations existing there.
Created under the sign of the faith, which was considerated the symbol of the pact made by the two Portuguese Martim Leitao and Joao Tavares and the indians chief Piragibe, the city of Felipéia used to be the seat of many religious buildings constructed by religious orders as Jesuits, Franciscans, Benedictines and Carmelites. One of these buildinqs which shelters at the same time Santo Antonio Church and Sao Francisco Monastery became the symbol of the Paraíba history because of its impressive baroque style as well asof its construction time which started in 1589 and finished only in 1779.
The occupation of Paraíba's territory meant the expansion of the religious feeling which can be notice by the large number of chapels spread in the interior of Paraíba. Many of them became later on chu rches representing the occupation of the land as well as the foundation of the cities. At the beginning these cities were located on the coast, later on they started to appear in the interior of the state, specially during its occupation occured between 1670 and 1730. Finaly they were located on the bog, a strip connecting the coast to the interior of the country.
This is the geo-political "facies" of the occupation of Paraíba State which used to have its economy based on the suggar cane cultivated on the coast. Later on this monoculture was supplanted by the cattle and the cotton, products that served as the basis ofthe society of the interior.
This economical frame sometimes submitted to the variation of the prices of the primary goods had its apogee during the 16th/17th centuries followed by a strong decline. Thus we can interpret the history of Paraíba as a transition from an abundant economy to a scarce one. This contrast means the cruel feature of the Paraíba history in which we can underline several revolutions and revolts manifesting the unsatisfaction of the people in view of the unpleasant climate and social conditions they had faced.
Nowadays this perseverance and fearlessness are the best guarantee that Paraíba will offer a better future to all its sons. Since it has a population of 2.910.429 inhabitants distributed on a surface of 56.372 Km2, the State of Paraíba will have to make a great effort to foster its decadent agriculture and stagnant industry as well as to change the low standing of living of the largest part of the population.
JOSÉ OCTAVIO DE ARRUDA MELLO
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