Alagoas and Sergipe are the smallest Brazilian states. Sandwiched between Bahia to the south and Pernambuco to the north, they have traditionally been overshadowed by their neighbours and to this day still have a (not entirely fair) reputation for being something of a backwater. While it’s true that there’s nowhere comparable to the cosmopolitan cities of Recife or Salvador, there are the two state capitals of Maceió and Aracaju, together with some well-preserved colonial towns, and exceptional beaches in Alagoas, which many rate as the best in the Northeast. The harshness of the sertão here is much alleviated, too, by the São Francisco river valley, which forms the border between the two states.

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