Lesson 302: Bahian Reconcavo of Brazil: Quilombos, Candomblé, and the Mata Atlântica

Across the All Saints’ Bay from Brazil’s huge city of Salvador in Bahia state, the region known as the Reconcavo supports a distinct culture and heritage. Over the centuries, slaves escaped their owners and founded their own towns. They, along with other colonists, shaped the local society and exploited its tropical riches, its dende palms, its mangrove swamps, its rivers, and its once-lush forests. Tropical islands along the coast became homes to the very affluent and to humble fishing families. Meanwhile, a tire company has taken on the challenge of preserving and restoring the once-great Atlantic Forest, the Mata Atlântica.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about the heritage of African- Brazilians in the tropical place of Salvador, Brazil.

Social Studies Standards

Culture: C, D, E

Discussion Prompts

  • What are some of the African-Brazilian religious traditions? Include Holy Week customs as well as non-Catholic ceremonies. Which one did host David Yetman participate in?
  • Discuss how slave labor created many of the famous monuments. What ethical and historical considerations do you need to take into account? How might different choices in the past affect future architecture and economy?
  • There are 4 million African descendants in Salvador. How does this affect the Brazilian city and what cultural ties to Africa do these descendants still have?
  • The Atlantic Forest has over 400 different species of trees in the reserve. What are some ways that this diversity makes the Atlantic Forest unique and special?

Lesson Activities

  • Pretend you work for a tourism company and create an itinerary for a day trip in Salvador, list the monuments and excursions you recommend with descriptive blurbs to entice potential visitors new to the area.
  • Create a timeline and notes that describe slave trade and the movement from historical Africa to Brazil. Include dates, events and list the reasons this shift occurred.
  • Create a plan of how to restore the Atlantic Forest that includes animal conservation. Use the Michelin tire company plan as an example.
  • Describe the communities where escaped and freed slaves lived together. Include information about their daily life and what features of nature helped to protect them. Create a visual that includes illustrations and notes about their life.


  • basin
  • canopy
  • clandestinely
  • ecosystem
  • fauna
  • hydroelectric dam
  • procession
  • settlements
  • stewardship
  • species


Lesson Plan S03E02