Brasília (bɾaˈziliɐ) is the capital of Brazil. The city and its District are located in the Central-West region of the country, along a plateau known as Planalto Central. It has a population of about 2,557,000 as of the 2008 IBGE census, making it the fourth largest city in Brazil. It is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
As the national capital, Brasília is the seat of all three branches of the Brazilian government. The city also hosts the headquarters of many Brazilian companies such as the Bank of Brazil, Caixa Econômica Federal, Correios and Brasil Telecom. The city is a world reference for urban planning. The locating of residential buildings around expansive urban areas, of building the city around large avenues and dividing it into sectors, has sparked a debate and reflection on life in big cities in the 20th century. The city’s planned design included specific areas for almost everything, including accommodation – Hotel Sectors North and South. However, new areas are now being developed as locations for hotels, such as the Hotels and Tourism Sector North, located on the shores of Lake Paranoá. Brasília offers modern and comfortable hotels, including hotels managed by international chains; but it also offers cozy and modest inns, B&Bs and hostels.
The city was planned and developed in 1956 with Lúcio Costa as the principal urban planner and Oscar Niemeyer as the principal architect. In 1960, it formally became Brazil's national capital. When seen from above, the city's shape resembles an airplane or a butterfly. The city is commonly referred to as Capital Federal, Capital da Esperança (which translates to Capital of Hope), or simply BSB. People from the city of Brasília are known as brasilienses or candangos.
Brasília has a sui generis status in Brazil, given it is not a municipality like nearly all cities in Brazil. Instead, it is the first of several Administrative Regions within the Distrito Federal (Federal District) — which, constitutionally, cannot be divided into municipalities. Informally, however, Brasília is referred to as coterminous with the Federal District.
Brasília International Airport is a major hub for the rest of the country, connecting the capital to all major Brazilian cities and many international destinations. It is the third most important airport of Brazil, in terms of passengers and aircraft movements.
Brasília was built to be Brazil's new capital city. The idea was to transfer the federal capital of Brazil from the coast to the Midwestern interior of the country. Previously the capital of Brazil was situated in Rio de Janeiro and before that in Salvador. By relocating the capital city to the interior, the government intended to help populate that area of the country. People from all over the country were hired to build the city, especially those from the Northeast region of Brazil. These workers would be known as candangos. Brasília is known, internationally, for having applied the principles established in the Athens Charter of 1933.
Brasília was planned to be a city where transit flows smoothly. Lúcio Costa planned the streets in such a way that even traffic lights would not be necessary: cars and buses would take thoroughfares to travel long distances, then would use one of several loops to gain access to local streets to reach specific destinations. Much of the original planning had to be changed, mostly because of the growth of Brasília. Costa didn't foresee such a quick growth of the city, much less the explosive growth in the satellite cities around it. Brasília today has traffic lights as any other city, there is a scarcity of parking places, and traffic jams are usual at peak hours, particularly in some busier loops. However, even though the present situation is not as planned by Costa, transit in Brasília is still much better than in other major Brazilian cities. There is a stricter enforcement of the law, which results in better educated drivers; for example, Brasília is one of the few cities in Brazil where drivers stop in a crosswalk. The streets are usually in good shape, which minimizes accidents.
Still, the main reason for Brasília having better transit is Costa's plan: vehicles still make use of the system of thoroughfares, loops and local streets to reach their destinations. The main thoroughfare is the Eixão (Eixo Rodoviário, in Costa's Plan). It is a high speed highway which cuts Brasília from North to South, three lanes each way; except for a few spots in the central area, there are no traffic lights in the Eixão. Parallel to the Eixão, there are two Eixinhos (small Axis), which facilitates the access to loops and eventually to local streets. The other major thoroughfare is the Monumental Axis, which cuts Brasilia from East to West. The Monumental is wider and busier than the Eixão; there are a few traffic lights along the Monumental. The other two important city avenues are the W3, which runs west of the Eixão, parallel to it, and L2, which runs east of the Eixão. Most bus lines going from North to South use W3 and L2, rather than the Eixão (vehicles are not allowed to stop along the Eixão).
President Juscelino Kubitschek ordered the construction of Brasília, fulfilling an article of the country's constitution stating that the capital should be moved from Rio de Janeiro to a place close to the center of the country. Lúcio Costa won a contest and was the main urban planner. Oscar Niemeyer, a close friend of Lúcio, was the chief architect of most public buildings and Roberto Burle Marx was the landscape designer. Brasília was built in 41 months, from 1956 to April 21, 1960, when it was officially inaugurated. From 1763 to 1960, Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil. At this time, resources tended to be centred in Brazil's southeast region near Rio de Janeiro. Brasília's geographical central location made for a more regionally neutral federal capital. The concept of locating the capital in the center of Brazil was first made in 1891 but was not defined until 1922.
Right from the beginning, the growth of Brasília exceeded expectations. According to the original plans, Brasília would be a city for government authorities and staff. However, during the construction period, many Brazilians from all over the country migrated to Brasília. Until the 1980s, the mayor of Brasília was appointed by the Brazilian Government, and the laws of Brasília were issued by the Brazilian Federal Senate. After the Constitution of 1988, Brasília gained the right to elect its Governor, and a District Assembly was elected to exercize legislative power.
According to legend, Italian saint Don Bosco in 1883 had a prophetic dream in which he described a futuristic city that roughly fitted Brasília's location. Today, in Brasília, there are many references to this educator who founded the Salesian order. One of the main churches in the city bears his name. Brasília is the result of a modern urban project designed by Lúcio Costa. When seen from above, the city's original plan resembles the shape of an airplane, but many prefer to refer to it as a bird with open wings However, the architect's original urban concept pointed to the shape of a cross.
In the 1960 census there were almost 140,000 residents in the new Federal District; by 1970 this figure had grown to more than 537,000. In 2000 the population of the Brazilian Federal District was more than two million. This fact makes it the largest city (by population) in the world at the close of the 20th century that didn't exist at the beginning of the century (a distinction held by Chicago in the 19th century). Brasília has one of the highest growth rates in Brazil, with its population increasing by 2.82% each year. Brasília's inhabitants include a foreign population of mostly embassy workers as well as large numbers of Brazilian migrants.
The Human Development Index in the city is at 0.936 (developed nation level), and the illiteracy rate is around 4.35%.
The Brazilian capital is the only city in the world built in the 20th century to be awarded (in 1987) the status of Historical and Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, a specialized agency of the United Nations.
(91% of local GDP, according to the IBGE):
In the city include:
The Federal District has the largest GDP per capita income of Brazil (about US$ 27,610 per person, according to the IBGE). Brasília's per capita income is believed to be much higher.
Brasilia receives visitors from the whole of Brazil and the world, it offers a good range of restaurants with great diversity of food; from simple small restaurants, serving the authentic food of Central-Western areas of Brazil, to selected bistros.
Portuguese is the official national language, and thus the primary language taught in schools. But English and Spanish are part of the official high school curriculum. There are some international schools that provide conventional education in foreign languages, mainly English, such as the American School of Brasília.
Traditional parties take place throughout the year. In June, there are large festivals celebrating Catholic saints, such as Saint Anthony and Saint Peter, that are called "festas juninas", or June festival. Throughout the year there are local, national and international events spread through the city. Christmas is widely celebrated, and New Years Eve usually hosts major events.
The city also hosts a varied assortment of art works from artists like Bruno Giorgi, Alfredo Ceschiatti, Athos Bulcão, Marianne Peretti, Alfredo Volpi, Di Cavalcanti, Dyllan Taxman, Victor Brecheret and Burle Marx, whose works have been integrated into the city’s architecture, making it a unique landscape.
Brazil's bicameral National Congress consists of the Senate of Brazil (the upper house) and the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil (the lower house). Since the 1960s, the National Congress has its seat in Brasília. As with most of the official buildings in the city, it was designed by Oscar Niemeyer following the style of modern Brazilian architecture. The semisphere to the left is the seat of the Senate, and the semisphere to the right is the seat of the Chamber of the Deputies. Between them there are two towers of offices. The Congress also occupies other surrounding buildings, some of them interconnected by a tunnel.
The building is located in the middle of the Monumental axis, the main avenue of the capital. In front of it there is a large lawn and a reflecting pool. The building faces the Praça dos Três Poderes, where the Palácio do Planalto and the Supremo Tribunal Federal are located.
It is interesting to note that this building also served as a model for the Empire State Plaza in Albany NY, USA.
One of the first structures built in the republic's new capital city, the "Alvorada" lies on a peninsula at the margins of Lake Paranoá. The principles of simplicity and modernity, that in the past characterized the great works of architecture, motivated Niemeyer. The viewer has an impression of looking at a glass box, softly landed on the ground with the support of thin external columns.
The building has an area of 7,000 m2 and three floors: basement, landing and second floor. The auditorium, kitchen, laundry, medical center, and the administration are at basement level. The rooms used by the presidency for official receptions are on the landing. There are four suites, two apartments and other private rooms on the second floor which is the residential part of the palace.
The building also has a library, a heated Olympic-sized swimming pool, a music room, two dining rooms and various meeting rooms. There is a chapel and heliport in adjacent buildings.
The Palácio do Planalto is the official workplace of the President of Brazil. It is located at the Praça dos Três Poderes in Brasília. As the seat of government, the term "o Planalto" is often used as a metonym for the executive branch of the government.
The main working office of the President of the Republic is in the Palácio do Planalto. The President and his family, however, do not live in it; the official residence of the President is the Palácio da Alvorada. Besides the President, senior advisors also have offices in the "Planalto", including the Vice-President of Brazil and the Chief of Staff; the other Ministries are laid along the Esplanada dos Ministérios.
The architect of the Palácio do Planalto was Oscar Niemeyer, the "creator" of most of the important buildings in the new capital of Brasília. The idea was to project an image of simplicity and modernity using fine lines and waves to compose the columns and exterior structures.
The Palace is four stories high, and has an area of 36,000 m². Four other adjacent buildings are also part of the complex.
The Cultural Complex of the Republic ("Complexo Cultural da República" in Portuguese) is a cultural center located along the Monumental Axis, in the city of Brasília. It is formed by the National Library of Brasília and the National Museum of the Republic'.
The National Library of Brasília (Biblioteca Nacional de Brasília in Portuguese) occupies an area of 14,000 m², consisting of reading and study rooms, auditorium and a collection of over 300,000 items.
The National Museum of the Republic (Museu Nacional da República in Portuguese) consists of a 14,500 m² exhibit area, two 780-seat auditoriums, and a laboratory. The space is mainly used to display temporary art exhibits.
The Juscelino Kubitschek bridge, also known as the 'President JK Bridge' or the 'JK Bridge', crosses Lake Paranoá in Brasília. It is named after Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira, former president of Brazil. It was designed by architect Alexandre Chan and structural engineer Mário Vila Verde. Chan won the Gustav Lindenthal Medal for this project at the 2003 International Bridge Conference in Pittsburgh due to "...outstanding achievement demonstrating harmony with the environment, aesthetic merit and successful community participation".
It consists of three 60 m (200 ft) tall asymmetrical steel arches that crisscross diagonally. With a length of 1,200 m (0.75 miles), it was completed in 2002 at a cost of US$56.8 million. The bridge has a pedestrian walkway and is accessible to bicyclists and skaters.
Brasília Metro is Brasília's underground metro system. The subway system has 16 stations on two lines - the Orange and Green lines, distributed along a total network of 75 km (46 mi), covering most of the metropolitan area. Both lines begin at the Central Station and run parallel until the Águas Claras Station. The Brasília metro is not very comprehensive, so buses may be a better way to get to the center of the city. The metro leaves from the Rodoviária (bus station) and goes only southwards. It doesn't go to most of political and tourist spots of Brasília. The main purpose of the metro is to serve the population of the largest satellite cities, such as Guará, Águas Claras, Samambaia, Taguatinga and Ceilândia. The satellite cities are more populated than Brasília itself (the census of 2000 indicated that Ceilândia had 344,039 inhabitants, Taguatinga had 243,575, whereas Brasília had approximately 400,000 inhabitants), and most residents of the satellite cities depend on public transportation.