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In the Catholic Church, Brazil and the rest of the Portuguese Empire were initially administered as part of the Diocese of Funchal in Portugal but, in 1551, Salvador became the seat of the first Catholic diocese erected in Brazil.he served as the primate of Congo and Angola until the elevation of Luanda on 13 January 1844 and still serves as the national primate of Brazil.

Salvador forms the heart of the During his second voyage for Portugal, the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci sighted the bay on All Saints' Day (November 1) 1502 and, in honor of the date and his parish church in Florence, he named it the Bay of the Holy Savior of All the Saints.

and, in 1534, Francisco Pereira Coutinho, the first captain of Bahia, established the settlement of Pereira in modern Salvador's Ladeira da Barra neighborhood.

During the colonial era, it was typical practice for Portuguese priests and missionaries to baptize converted African slaves and Native Americans with surnames of religious connotations. A 2015 autosomal DNA study found out the following ancestral composition in Salvador: 50.5% of African ancestry, 42.4% of European ancestry and 5.8% of Native American ancestry.

The Jesuits, led by the Manuel da Nóbrega, also arrived in the 16th century and worked in converting the Indigenous peoples of the region to Roman Catholicism.

Salvador's driest month of the year is September, when the city receives on average 10 cm (4 in) of precipitation.

Salvador's wettest months are between April and June when at least 20 cm (8 in) of rain falls during each of these four months.

By that time, Portugal had become united with Spain and was ruled from Madrid by its kings.

In 1621, King Philip III replaced the Governorate of Brazil with the states of Brazil, still based in Salvador and now controlling the south, and the Maranhão, which was centered on São Luís and controlled what is now northern Brazil.

Johan van Dorth administered the colony before his assassination, freeing its slaves.

The city was recaptured by a Luso-Spanish fleet under Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo y Mendoza on .

Salvador was the first slave port in the Americas and the African influence of the slaves' descendants makes it a center of Afro-Brazilian () culture.