The Caatinga ( portug. pronunciation: [ kaatʃĩɡɐ ] ) is a region of Sertão in the northeastern part of Brazil. The name Caatinga is an Indian word ( Tupi ), meaning white or white forest vegetation ( kaa " forest " vegetation; Tinga " white "). It covers about 700,000 square kilometers, making it roughly twice as large as Germany. The Caatinga has a semi-arid climate with average annual temperatures of about 28 ° C. She has a very hot and dry winter and a hot and rainy summer. The rivers of the Caatinga run only during a rainy summer water and dry in some places even the great rivers during the dry winter from. The vegetation consists mainly of shrubs, which are resistant to drought.


The Caatinga covers the northeastern part of Brazil, and is located in eight states near the Atlantic coast: Piauí, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe and Bahia. The Caatinga touches the cities Fortaleza, Recife and Salvador da Bahia. The southern half of the Caatinga is penetrated by moist tropical forest.


In the Caatinga, there are only two distinct seasons, the hot and dry winter and hot and rainy summer. During the dry winter periods there is no leaves or undergrowth. The vegetation is very dry and the roots begin to penetrate the surface of the rocky soil.

They do this to absorb water before it evaporates. All the trees throw off the foliage to reduce the amount of water that is lost through respiration. During peak times of drought the bottom of the Caatinga can reach temperatures of up to 60 ° C. With the many dead leaves and undergrowth offers the Caatinga in winter the sight uninhabitable Öd or desert country.

The drought usually ends with the end of the year and with the new year begins to rain. With the coming of the rain, the gray of the desert landscape begins in a much greener land to convert. Small plants begin to grow in moist soil and now the Trees put out. The water begins to flow into the parched rivers.


The population of the Caatinga uses many plant species in the region. Palm trees are very important for the economy in Northeast Brazil. The people of this region extract oil from the Babassu, Carnaúba, TUCUM and Macaúbapalmen. Many trees are also used as timber or for medicinal purposes.

The population of the Northeast is the poorest in Brazil. The region is also the most densely populated part of the country. About 60 million people survive on the basis of the sparse vegetation of the Caatinga. A very large part of the population earns more than half of their low income with resource extraction from the vegetation. The Caraibawald has been decimated by cutting for timber extraction. This is considered as a cause of danger to the Spix's Macaw ( Cyanopsitta spixii ).

To date, the popular historical figures cangaceiros who lived by robbery at the more affluent population were.


Some areas of the Caatinga have very fertile soil. The inhabitants plant fruit in the fertile soil for their own nutrition and for export. Some areas are irrigated, such as the Valley of the São Francisco River. The resulting benefits for the farmers is threatened by salinization of the soil, since the land is irrigated with saline water. The region around the São Francisco exported currently grapes, papayas, mangoes and melons on the world market.

Due to intensive agriculture and excessive browsing by livestock the natural vegetation is adversely affected. Deforestation for the production of fuel or charcoal reduces the vegetation. The combination of drought and failure in agriculture to become a threat. Salinisation and desertification of soil progressing strong.


The Caatinga can be separated according to vegetation types in eight different areas:

  • The Caatingawald has deciduous tropical broad-leaved trees. The canopy covers 60 % of the soil. This type of vegetation encountered in the more humid areas with more precipitation.
  • The tree-lined area is an area that consists mainly of shrubs with some trees. The vegetation covered less than 60% of the soil.
  • The tree and scrub -covered area of ​​closed Caatinga is forest with a closed shrub cover. The vegetation covered less than 60% of the soil.
  • The open tree and scrub -covered area is overgrown compared to above with more shrubs and cacti.
  • The closed shrub -covered Caatinga has almost no trees.
  • The open shrub -covered Caatingabereiche occur on flat and partly rocky ground; this area contains trees, cacti and bromeliads.
  • The Caatinga savanna consists of scrub with few trees.
  • The rocky Caatinga savanna has a canopy cover of less than 10 % and consists of tropical shrubs that grow from crevices in the rocky ground.