Pará is a state in the north of Brazil. It borders the Brazilian states of (clockwise from north) Amapá, Maranhão, Tocantins, Mato Grosso, Amazonas and Roraima. To the northwest it also borders Guyana and Suriname, and to the northeast it borders the Atlantic Ocean. The capital and largest city is Belém, the 11th most populous city in the country.
Pará is the most populous state of the northern region with a population of over 7.5 million, being the ninth most populous state in Brazil. It is the second largest state of Brazil in area, with 1,2 million km², second only to Amazonas (it was the third until Mato Grosso do Sul broke away from Mato Grosso in 1977). Its most famous icons are the Amazon River and the Amazon Rainforest. Pará produces rubber (extracted from natural rubber tree groves), tropical hardwoods such as mahogany, and minerals such as iron ore and bauxite.
Every October, Belém receives tens of thousands of tourists for the year's most important religious celebration, the procession of the Círio de Nazaré. Another important attraction of the capital is the marajó-style ceramics, based on pottery from the extinct Marajó indigenous culture, whose designs have gained considerable international fame.
The Portuguese colonization in Pará State first occurred in 1616, with the foundation of Presépio Fortress – today, Castle Fortress – at Guajará bay, which originated the city of Belém. Before that, the region had been invaded many times by the Dutch and the English, seeking pepper; guaraná, a tree from which a powder is produced and used as a stimulant; and annato seeds, a fruit used for cooking, as a sunscreen and also for the extraction of dye.