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|State of Maranhão|
|Estado do Maranhão|
|State of the Portuguese Empire|
|•||1621–1622||Domingos da Costa Machado|
|•||1736–1737||João Alves de Carvalho|
With the creatition of the state Portuguese America had two administrative units: the State of Maranhão with its capital in São Luís, and the State of Brazil whose capital was São Salvador. After the 1670s Belem became the operational base of the Maranhão governors and it was formally designated the state capital in 1737.
The purpose of creating this state was to improve military defense in the Northern Region and stimulate economic activities and regional trade with the mainland.
The State of Maranhão was extinguished in 1652 and in 1654 reconstituted as Maranhão and Grão-Pará. In 1751 the State of Maranhão and Grão-Pará had its name changed to Grão-Pará and Maranhão and its capital was moved from São Luís to Belém.
The following captaincies formed the State of Maranhão. Ceará was later detached and became a satellite of Pernambuco, in the State of Brazil.