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Originally founded in the seventeenth century, based around a large sugar plantation, MACEIÓ, the state capital of Alagoas, fronts the Atlantic Ocean with several attractive beaches; it also faces onto the Lagoa Mundaú, an inland lake accessible from the sea that offers a wide natural harbour. In the 1930s and 40s, Maceió was an elegant city of squares and houses nestling under palm trees. Today, while it is still attractive in places, the city has suffered in recent years from the attentions of planners, most notably in their wrecking of a once-famous waterfront promenade that faced the harbour and around which Maceió grew. An early nineteenth-century customs house once stood here, framed by offices and the fine houses of traders – all now gone and replaced by grimy concrete boxes.

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