Recife, together with the entire state of Pernambuco, was first inhabited by the Portuguese. In fact, the area that surrounds Recife was among the first Brazilian areas that were home to Portuguese occupancy. With the creation of Captaincies, the state of Pernambuco was then given to the captaincy of Duarte Coelho Pereira. This included Recife. During this time, Olinda was named as the capital of the state.
Under the captaincy of Duarte Coelho Pereira, Recife was involved in the production of sugarcane. This contributed much to the state’s economic boom. Because the Portuguese during this time was in possession of a lot of black slaves, these were sent to Pernambuco to work for the sugarcane industry. This made the state one of the many Brazilian areas where the black culture was most evident.
In 1630 though, Recife was invaded by the Dutch who gained control over the area until 1654. This was the time that Recife, the city of Mauritsstad, was named as capital of the new Dutch Brazil.
The colony was ruled by Count Mauricio de Nassau who made several changes to the economy and even the culture of the place. This brought about a huge resistance from the people living in the area and eventually their resistance led to the driving out of the Dutch colonizers and leading the Portuguese to claim back their colony.