The Portuguese who settled in Recife, around 1534, were the initial ones to rule Recife. To begin with, financially, the Portuguese were in a very bad state. To reduce the uncertainty of their settlements and be assured of their possession of the port, the Portuguese rulers divided the port into strips, which they called captaincies. They handed these strips over to the Portuguese businessmen who would have to develop their colonies with their own finances on behalf of the rulers.
Initially Duarte Coelho Pereira tried to steer the native people in the cultivation of the cane industry, but he realized that they could not adapt to the work. So he was left with no option but that of importing slaves from Africa, India and later from Netherlands. So today you can see a lot of mixture of African-Indian-Brazilian-Dutch customs in Recife. That makes it the most culturally varied city in Brazil.
To begin with the Portuguese and the Dutch had good relations. But later in the 15th century when Spain invaded Portugal, they prohibited the Dutch from entering Brazil, as they were the main distributors of sugar in Europe. The Dutch attacked many sugar producing cities in Brazil, one of them being Recife. During this period, Recife was a very cosmopolitan city. Mauricio de Nassau was one of the famous Dutch governors to rule Recife in 1637. He laid the foundation of the infrastructure of Recife. He built bridges and streets with the help of many intelligent architects and bought artists from Holland. He modernized and contemporized the city. The first Jewish community and their synagogue were founded in Recife, during the Dutch rule. During their rule, the Dutch had to fight the Brazilians, Africans, Indians and the Portuguese. Two battles were fought near the hills of Guararapes, which resulted in the victory of Pernambucanos. In 1654 the Dutch surrendered and left Brazil.