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This article is about the Brazilian city in the state of Alagoas. For the Brazilian city in the state of Goiás see Piranhas, Goiás. For the fish, see Piranha; for the band, see The Piranhas.

Coordinates: 09°37′26″S 37°45′25″W / 9.62389°S 37.75694°W / -9.62389; -37.75694 Piranhas is a historic city and municipality in the western of the State of Alagoas, in the Northeast Region of Brazil. Located on the bank of the São Francisco River, just at the border with the State of Sergipe, Piranhas was founded in 1891 and originally named Floriano Peixoto (in honor of the Army General who was one of the founders of the Republic and later elected President). It was initially named Porto de Piranhas, because a fisherman had caught some piranhas (a carnivore predator fish) there. In the 30s, Piranhas was attacked several times by the cangaceiros, bands of marauders and bandits commanded by the infamous Lampião, who frequently hid from the police in the rocky outcrops near the city.

  • Population: 23,483 (2005) [1]
  • Area: 407,65 km²
  • Elevation: 88 m
  • Distance from the capital (Maceió): 291 km
  • Climate: dry and hot, average annual temperature: 28 degrees Celsius
  • Economic activity: fishing, agriculture, cattle raising, ecotourism.

Its architecture is late Empire, Northeast style of constructions. Water sports such as catamarans, sailboats and canoes are available at river beaches and lakes, as well tours along the São Francisco using typical paddle steamers (gaiolas). Several waterfalls, the mighty and wide river itself, the semi-arid and rough caatinga, strange rock formations, and its river gorges are appreciated by tourists and trekkers for their natural beauty.


Historically Piranhas was the upstream limit of navigation on the lower São Francisco River. Immediately upstream of Piranhas there were impassable rapids, and 60kms further upstream was the major falls at Paulo Afonso. Above those falls the São Francisco became navigable again for over 1500kms.

In 1881 Piranhas became the start of a railway line which was designed to bypass these obstacles to navigation. The line rose out of the deeply cut valley of the river and then, paralleling it at a distance of several kilometres, set off in a north-westerly direction, before rejoining it further upstream. The line passed through a series of small towns including Olho d'Água das Flores and Delmiro Gouveia, before reaching its destination at Petrolândia, on the banks of the upper São Francisco, and approximately 80kms upstream from Piranhas.

From 1881 to 1903 this railway was known as the Estrada de Ferro Paulo Afonso. After this date the line was incorporated successively in two other rail companies before closing finally in 1964. The line was never incorporated physically into any railway network, remaining a single, single track, line from beginning to end. Today the stretch of the abandoned trackbed which climbs up the side of the valley from the centre of Piranhas provides a splendid walking route with spectacular views of the turbulent São Francisco in the valley below and of the huge dam of the Xingo hydroelectric installation, just upstream of the town.

Today Piranhas can be reached by boat from several ports along the São Francisco, or by car, via a paved road from Maceió (AL-225).

See also

  • Piranha: Wolf In The Water (educational movie)


  1. ^ IBGE - [1]


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