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Federal District

Brazilian Federal District

The Federal District (Portuguese: Distrito Federal ) is set apart for Brasília, the capital of Brazil. Located in a region called Planalto Central, the Distrito Federal is divided in 19 administrative regions. Brasilia - place where the three branches of the Federal Government are located - is the main attraction of this dry area and climate with only two seasons. During the dry season, the humidity can reach critical levels, mainly in the peak hours of the hottest days. The artificial lake of Paranoá, with almost 40 km² and 500 million m³ of water, was built exactly to minimize the severe climatic conditions of the winter. The region also attracts místicos and in its surroundings you find many temples of different religions.


The government was transferred to Distrito Federal on April 21 1960, which was then split off from Goiás (major part) and Minas Gerais. Before the transfer, the Brazilian Federal District used to be the municipality of Rio de Janeiro. After the transfer, the municipality of Rio de Janeiro became the Estado da Guanabara (State of Guanabara), which existed from 1960 until 1975 when the State of Guanabara and the State of Rio de Janeiro merged, to be named the state of Rio de Janeiro.

Originally, the majority of the population consisted of local workers who built the capital (called "Candangos") and federal government employees who were transferred to the new capital, Brasília. The capital is a thoroughly planned city with designated areas for residence, business, schools etc. No streets have names, but are identified instead by letters and numbers arranged in a geographical system. Originally built for up to one million inhabitants, the city has recently grown way past this number. Due to its complex organization, the growth of the city itself has been slow. This has forced many to settle in neighboring cities around Brasília, which now house a significant percentage of the population of the Distrito Federal.


According to the IBGE of 2007, there were 2,393,000 people residing in the Brazilian Federal District. The population density was 410.9 inh./km².

Urbanization: 94% (2006); Population growth: 2.8% (1991-2000); Houses: 697,000 (2006).

The last PNAD (National Research for Sample of Domiciles) census revealed the following numbers: 1,160,605 Pardo (Brown) people (48.5%), 1,052,920 White people (44.0%), 157,000 Black people (6.6%), 21,000 Asian or Amerindian people (0.9%).

Tourism and recreation

The City Park – Sarah Kubitschek

Located in Brasília, the “Parque da Cidade” ("City Park”), which is named after the wife of Brazilian president Juscelino Kubitschek, extends over four million square meters. It includes landscape works of Burle Marx, and wall tiles that decorate restrooms in the Park designed by Athos Bulcão. Equipped with sports courts, a horse track, a racing kart track, skate tracks, playgrounds for children, bicycle tracks and trails for walks and jogging, the City Park attracts hundreds of people everyday, specially on weekends. The Park’s main entrance is located in the Monumental Axle South, but there are secondary exits that lead to other areas in the city’s South Wing.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia

Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, it was inaugurated in 1970. Its shape is rounded, and structured around 16 curved pillars filled with beautiful stained glass works, designed by Marianne Peretti – their disposition ensures natural lighting into the aisle, built below street level. Around the church, in the outside area, visitors can see Alfredo Ceschiatti’s sculptures – the four evangelists – and inside, suspended angels. There are also paintings by Di Cavalcanti, representing the stages of the Passion of Christ, and paintings by Athos Bulcão. The Cathedral is located in the Monumental Axle, at the entry of the Ministries Plateau.

The “Three Powers Square”

Praça dos Três Poderes concentrates some of the most important and significant buildings in the work and career of Oscar Niemeyer – the Planalto Palace, headquarters of Brazilian Presidency; the National Congress, hosting the Chamber of Deputies and the Federal Senate; and the Higher Courts of Justice. The Square also hosts: the “Panteão da Pátria” (the Fatherland Banner), the Lúcio Costa Space and three important sculptures – “Pombal”, by Niemeyer; “Justice”, by Alfredo Ceschiatti; and “Os Candangos”, by Bruno Giorgi. In the central plaza a National Banner with 286 square meters is supported by a 100-meter high pole. It is located at the end of the Ministries Plateau.

Interesting facts

Vehicles: 910,502 (March/2007); Mobile phones: 2.7 million (April/2007); Telephones: 884 thousand (April/2007); Cities: 1 (2007). Area: Distrito Federal is more than double the size of: Tokyo (Japan), island of Maui (Hawaii, USA). It is slightly larger than: French Polynesia, Rhode Island (USA), Cape Verde (Africa). It is slightly smaller than: Bali (Indonesia), Trinidad and Tobago.


The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 92.5%, followed by the industrial sector at 7.1%. Agriculture represents 0.4% of GDP (2004). Brazilian Federal District exports: soybean 77.1% and gold 16.4% (2002).

Share of the Brazilian economy: 3.7% (2005).


Portuguese is the official national language, and thus the primary language taught in schools. But English, Spanish and French are part of the official high school curriculum.

Educational institutions

  • Universidade de Brasília (UnB) (University of Brasília);
  • Universidade Católica de Brasília (UCB) (Catholic University of Brasília);
  • Centro Universitário de Brasília (UniCEUB);
  • Centro Universitário do Distrito Federal (UniDF);
  • Centro Universitário Euroamericano (UNIEURO);
  • Instituto de Educação Superior de Brasília (IESB);
  • União Pioneira da Integração Social (UPIS);
  • Universidade Paulista (UniP) (Paulista University);
  • and many others.


International Airport

Brasília International Airport is the third largest in Brazil in terms of passenger movement. Because of its strategic location it is considered a civil aviation hub for the rest of the country. This makes for a large number of takeoffs and landings and it is not unusual flights to have to wait in the holding pattern to land. Following the airport's master plan, Infraero is building a second runway, which will be finished in early 2005. In 2003 the fourth phase was completed of the passenger terminal expansion, which raised its capacity to 7.4 million passengers a year. The main building's third floor, with 12 thousand square meters, has a panoramic deck, a food court, shops, four movie theaters with total capacity of 500 people, and space for exhibitions. There are a total of 136 shop spots at the Brasília Airport.


Brasília Metro is the metro system of Distrito Federal. It is operated by Metrô-DF (Companhia do Metropolitano do Distrito Federal). and was opened in 2001. The system has ten stations on two lines, in operation from 6:00 AM to 11:30 PM, Mondays to Fridays and covering most of the metropolitan area. Its main problem is the sheer distance between stations, making it a small component of the transit system of the Distrito Federal, where a dysfunctional bus network is still predominant. The city of Águas Claras is well served by the subway, making it one of the fastest-growing areas of the Distrito Federal.


Free Flying

Brasília is known as a departing point for the practice of free flying sports, a sport that may be practiced with Hang Gliding or Paragliding wings. Practitioners of such sports reveal that, because of the city’s dry weather, the city offers strong thermal winds and great “cloud-streets” – which is also the name for a manoeuvre quite appreciated by practitioners. The national capital hosted the 14th Hang Gliding World Championship – one of the categories of free flying – in 2003. And in 2005, from August 21st to 27th, it will host the 2nd stage of the Brazilian Hang Gliding Championship.

Brasília is one of the 18 remaining candidates to host games of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, to take place in the country.


The white background of the flag stands for peace, and gives the idea of infinity, or the vast Brazilian territory. The green and yellow colours in the middle refer to the most commonly used of the four colours of the national flag to represent Brazil. The four yellow arrows symbolize the native nations of Brazil, whereas their pointing into the four cardinal directions of the compass stands for the centralized emanating political power of Brasilia, as the capital of the country. The yellow arrows also form a cross, which symbolizes both the Southern Cross, a constellation seen only in the Southern Hemisphere and the Roman Catholic symbol brought by Pedro Álvares Cabral and under whose shadow the first Mass in Brazil was celebrated in 1500. With their feathers, the arrows form a lozange in the middle, another reference to the national flag.

The flag was created by the poet and herald Guilherme de Almeida, and was adopted by decree n.o 1090 on August 25 1969.

Voting rights

Residents of the Federal District elect eight representatives and three senators.


See also

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