Brazil's poor north-east is narrowing the economic development gap with the richer south.
In 1983 Jornal do Brasil, a newspaper in Rio de Janeiro, sent a reporter to Brazil’s north-east to cover a drought. He found starving residents eating rats and lizards. Since then, the country has made strides. Yet the north-east remains Brazil’s poorest region: it has 28% of the country’s people but just 14% of its GDP. A fifth of the area’s adults are illiterate, twice the national rate. And it holds more than half the 16m Brazilians who live on less than 70 reais ($43) a month. For decades it has exported workers to the kitchens and construction sites of the rich cities in the south-east.
Recently, however, the north-east has become Brazil’s star economic performer. In the past decade the region’s GDP rose by 4.2% a year, compared with 3.6% for the country as a whole. Last year Pernambuco state’s economy grew by a China-like 9.3%. Full story..