The state's name originates with the lakes along its coast near the city of Maceió. The coast is bordered by fringing reefs and many fine beaches. The economy has been agricultural, dependent largely on large sugar cane plantations with some tobacco. Sugar cane formed the basis for an alcohol industry that is in decline. Small to medium sized tanker ships took alcohol onboard in Maceió's port with considerable frequency during the peak period. Such loads still take place with less frequency. Another local industry is based on chemical products from brine pumped from deep wells on the outskirts of Maceió.
In the last twenty years the tourist industry has found the beaches and Maceió itself has changed from a rather sleepy little port with coconut palm plantations along its beaches to high rise hotels. The northern coast is beginning to see some of this development in the form of resorts attracting people from the south and some from Europe.
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