SAO LUIZ or in full, SAO LUIZ DE MARANHAO, a seaport of northern Brazil, capital of the State of Maranhao, on the W. side of an island of the same name, in lat. 2 30' S., long. 44° 17' W. of Greenwich, about 30o m. E.S.E. of Belem, (Path). Pop. of the whole island (1933 est.), 67,722. An important part of the population is made up of the planters of the State, who live in town and leave their estates to the care of overseers. The island of Maranhao lies off the mouths of the rivers Mearim and Itapicurii, between the Bay of Sao Marcos on the W. and the Bay of Sao Jose on the E., and is separated from the mainland by a small channel called the Canal do Mosquito. It is irregular in outline, its greatest length from N.E. to S.W. being 34 m., and its greatest breadth 19 miles. Its surface is broken by a number of low hills and short valleys. The city is built upon a tongue of land between two small estuaries, Anil and Bacanga, which unite and open upon the Bay of Sao Marcos. It covers two low hills and the intervening valley, the transverse streets sloping sharply to the estuary on either side. These slopes make it difficult to use vehicles in the streets, but they afford a natural surface drainage which makes Sao Luiz cleaner and more healthful than are usually the coast towns of tropical Brazil. The
buildings are of the old Portuguese type, with massive walls of broken stone and mortar, having an outside finish of plaster or glazed tiles and roofs of red tiles. The principal public buildings are the cathedral, a large and severely plain structure, the Episco pal palace, the Carmelite church, the Government palace, town hall, custom-house, hospital and a number of asylums, convents and charitable schools. There is an excellent lyceum and a church seminary. Its exports comprise cotton, sugar and rice. Communi cation with the mainland is carried on by means of small steamers, and by a railway which crosses the eastern part of the State to Senado Furtado on the Parnahyba river opposite Therezina.
Sao Luiz was founded in 1612 by La Rivardiere, a French officer commissioned by Henri IV. to establish a colony in this vicinity. The French colony was expelled in 1615 by the Portuguese, who, in turn, surrendered to the Dutch in 1641. In 1644 the Dutch abandoned the island, when the Portuguese resumed possession and held the city to the end of their colonial rule in Brazil. The city became the seat of a bishopric in 1679.