Sonia De Leao

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This dissertation deals with the historical spatial analysis of agriculture of Bahia, the earliest economic core of Brazil. Emphasis is on the economic processes responsible for the expansion and location of agriculture from colonization in 1549 until 1970. The conceptual framework is von Thunen's classic model of agricultural location, which was chosen because it contains predictions (under equilibrium and dynamic conditions) related to both the evolution and location of agriculture.;Comparison between Bahia's agricultural reality and theoretical conditions of "The Isolated State" employs the method of comparative statics, whereby the time is divided into four stages, each one in succession treated as an equilibrium solution for its respective time period.;(1) Origins (1500-1570), includes the discovery of Brazil and the application by Portugal of mercantilistic policies which resulted in Bahia's colonization. Von Thunen's prediction that intensity of agriculture is inversely related to distance from a market is observed in Bahia. (2) Gradual Expansion (1571-1822), includes the remainder of colonial times and ends with the political independence of Brazil. Continued expansion of sugar plantations fails to confirm von Thunen's prediction that a fall in prices of agricultural products leads to a spatial contraction of agricultural land use regions. The relationship between the intensity of agriculture and distance from the major market of Salvador, however, remains consistent. (3) Rapid Expansion (1823-1930), includes the post-colonial period to the beginning of the Depression. Von Thunen's predictions that increase in demand and transportation improvements cause expansion of agriculture are both empirically observed in Bahia. This results in the evolution of the two earlier agricultural zones into three based on the impact of the industrial revolution. (4) Spatial Adjustment (1931-1970), begins with the Depression which led to major changes in Brazil, including government policies to promote sectorial industrialization, and culminates with the last agricultural census. Von Thunen's prediction that lower demand for agricultural products causes contraction of agricultural space and an increase in extensive types of agriculture is partially verified. A clear trend for agricultural land uses to be located according to their respective markets is also observed. . . . (Author's abstract exceeds stipulated maximum length. Discontinued here with permission of school.) UMI



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