Fortaleza (Portuguese for fortress, ) is the state capital of Ceará, located in Northeastern Brazil. With a population of over 3.4 million (metropolitan region), Fortaleza has an area of . To the north of the city lies the Atlantic Ocean; to the south are the cities of Pacatuba, Eusébio, Maracanaú and Itaitinga; to the east is the county of Aquiraz and the Atlantic Ocean; and to the west is the city of Caucaia. Residents of the city are known as Fortalezenses. The current mayor is Luizianne Lins. On Beira-mar Avenue, kiosks and restaurants offer cold drinks and regional seafood. At the handcraft fair, many stands show embroidery and leather work, as well as jewelry and regional food. Of the urban beaches in Fortaleza, Praia do Futuro is the most frequented and is characterized by restaurants along the beach, each one with its own musical style and decoration.
The statue of Iracema refers to the legend of the Indian which was depicted in a novel by José de Alencar. Mucuripe Beach holds the Lighthouse Museum. Opened in 1846, the lighthouse was active for 111 years, until it was closed in 1957. Dragão do Mar Art and Culture Center holds the Cearense Culture Memorial, the Contemporary Art Museum and Rubens de Azevedo Planetarium, as well as movies and theaters. Besides this, many old warehouses were refurbished and became bars and restaurants surrounding the central area of town. There are cuisine and show options in the evening.
Nightlife includes bars, discos and restaurants, opened every day in the week, besides the characteristic comedy shows that have introduced nationally famous artists. An off-season carnival, Fortal, happens in Fortaleza in July. With a remodeled structure in 2008, the event has parking lots, bleachers, stalls and food court. The event lasts 4 days and around 1.5 million people enjoy the nationally famous axé music bands. Fortaleza also stages music festivals in Brazil, such as Ceará Music. This yearly event includes local artists and international pop rock stars for 3 days. Around 25 thousand people enjoy the fun and several concerts, electronic music tents, and fashion shows.
Generally, Fortaleza is characterized by its hotness. The city is a very hot one, making it perfect for tanning sessions at the beach. The breeze during hot days is truly refreshing because wind speed in the city is generally typical of sea-side cities. The wind direction is from the sea towards the land, or from west towards east. This wind direction accompanied by ideal wind speed makes different wind activities like surfing and kite flying ideal activities in Fortaleza.
Fortaleza weather is unique in that there is usually rain during the first six months of the year, or from january to june. Expect that during this period, relative humidity is high, making Fortaleza climate extremely uncomfortable during several periods of the day. Relative humidity refers to the condition when water vapor is very much present in the air molecules. This is typical when the day is hot and there is too much moisture in the air from a short or sudden rain pour. Fortaleza climate is usually very dry like summer during the months of august to december, when it is winter in other parts of the world, especially those in the northern hemisphere.
Fortaleza's history began on February 2, 1500, when Spaniard Vicente Pinzón landed in Mucuripe's cove and named the new land Santa Maria de la Consolación. Because of the Treaty of Tordesillas, the discovery was never officially sanctioned. Colonisation began when the Portuguese Pero Coelho de Souza constructed the Fortim de São Tiago in the estuary of Ceará River in 1603. Later, the Dutch occupied the Brazilian Northeast and founded the Fort Schoonenborch. When they were expelled from Ceará, the Portuguese renamed it to Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora da Assunção. In 1726, the town of the fort was raised to the condition of village. In 1799, the Province of Ceará was separated from the Province of Pernambuco and Fortaleza was chosen as its capital.
During the 19th century, Fortaleza consolidated as an urban center in Ceará, supported by the sprouting of cotton growing. With the increase of the direct navigational communications with Europe the Customs of Fortaleza was created in 1812. In 1824, the city became agitated with the revolutionaries of Confederation of the Equator. Between the years of 1846 and 1877, the city goes through a period of enrichment and improvement of the economic activities and urban infrastructures including the exportation of the cotton and the development of diverse workmanships, such as the creation of the 2 secondary school of the Ceará and Mucuripe Lighthouse in 1845, Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Fortaleza in 1861, Prainha Seminary in 1864, Public Library in 1867 and the Public transportation network in 1870, which began with the construction of Railroad of Baturité. In the decades of 1870 and 1880, a period referred to as abolitionism and republican movements culminated in the release of the slaves in the Ceará, on March 25, 1884. The literary movement Spiritual Bakery appeared in 1892 and pioneered the spreading of modern ideas in literature in Brazil. Other entities of the time included the Ceará Institute and Ceara's Academy of Letters established in 1887 and 1894 respectively.
In the twentieth century, Fortaleza underwent through big urban changes, with improvements and the rural exodus, and grows mostly happening towards the end of the decade of 1910 and becoming the seventh city in population of Brazil. In 1954, the first university of the city was, the UFC. Between the decades of 1950 and 1960, the city went through an economic expansion above 100% and began the more distant occupation of neighborhoods of the center. To the end of the years 70 begins its emergence as the future industrial center of the Northeast with the implementation of the Industrial District of Fortaleza. During the political opening after the Military Regime, the people elected the first woman mayor Will Dine, Maria Luiza and became the first city hall commanded by a leftist party. At the end of the century, the administration of the city hall and the city underwent diverse structural changes with the opening of several avenues, hospitals, cultural spaces and emerging as one of the main tourist destinations of the Northeast and of Brazil.
According to a 2007 census conducted by IBGE, there were 3,427,000 people residing in the Metropolitan Region of Fortaleza. The population density was . The last PNAD (National Research for Sample of Domiciles) census revealed the following numbers: 2,087,043 Pardo (Brown) people (63.2%), 1,199,450 White people (34.0%), 109,000 Black people (2.4%), 30,000 Asian or Amerindian people (0.4%).
One of the main causes of the city's population growth throughout history was the period of droughts in the hinterland and the consequent escape to the capital city, known as rural exodus, as well as the search for better conditions of job and income. The city's population in the times of Colonial Brazil was estimated in 200 inhabitants, when Fortaleza was only an administrative unit, a village. The first discrepante point of the population growth of Fortaleza happened between 1865 and 1872 when the construction of the Railroad of Baturité was initiated. As a result of the demand for labour force, the population of the city swelled along with the economy. In 1877 another period of droughts made a great amount of homeless people migrate to Fortaleza and its outskirts. Migrations happened again during the droughts of 1888, 1900, 1915, 1932 and 1942. In these three last periods, concentration camps were set up in the hinterland to prevent the arrival of retirantes in the capital, however some surrounding districts like Pirambu and others, most of which with high demographic rates, began having their population grown due to migrations of peasants seduced by the promises of modernity in the greatest city of Ceará.
In 1922, Fortaleza reached its first hundred thousand inhabitants with the annexation of the cities of Messejana and Parangaba, now important districts of the city. Parangaba itself had more than 20,000 inhabitants, probably because a railroad station was built there before Fortaleza could have one, which made it receive a great number of retirantes from the dry hinterlands.
During the years of 1964–1985 several changes took place in Fortaleza which made the city a central region for industries. Governor Virgílio Távora (1963 - 1966) initiated the implantation of Industrial District of Fortaleza (DIF I). One decade later, the city already had about a million inhabitants, Metropolitan areas were created Brazil (1973), making the city one of them. In 1983 DIF I started to integrate the territory of the new city of Maracanaú, which, just some years ago, was made again part of the Greater Fortaleza (the city's Metropolitan area).
In the 1980s, Fortaleza overcomes Recife in population terms, becoming the second most populous city in Northeastern Brazil, with 1,308,919 inhabitants. Throughout the last decades of the 20th century the city "swelled" increasingly until its population exceeded two million inhabitants (in 2000). With a current population estimated in 2,458,545 inhabitants, Fortaleza is the 4th most populated city in Brazil, after São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador.
The economy of Fortaleza has his bigger prescription (the GDP present is of R$ 19 billion) arising from of the its commerce diversified. To main plaza is the most greatest Center concentrating number of commercial establishments. Another important pole of sale of the products industrialized in Fortitude is the Avenue Monseigneur Tabosa, near to the tourist pole of the Iracema Beach. Exist in the several city shoppings among the biggest they have the Iguatemi, North Shopping, Aldeota, Del Paseo, and others, but still has, unfortunately, many problems of Sanitation and slums. The industry has in the output of footwear, products textiles, leathers, skins and sustenances, beyond the extraction of big minerals highlight in the local economy.
Presently, Fortaleza offers wide and diversified options of spaces, which allows different kinds of events to be promoted, ranging from small business meetings to national and international congresses and fairs that receive thousands of people. The biggest and best equipped space for events available in the State of Ceará is the Convention Center in Fortaleza. Besides this one, many hotels, business centers and other establishments also offer adequate spaces to stage events with comfort and professionalism.
The GDP for the city was R$ 19,734,557,000 (2005).
The per capita income for the city was R$ 8,309 (2005).
Since the end of the 19th century, the city has been home to various cultural institutions. The Instituto do Ceará (Ceará Institute) was established in 1887, and conducts research in history, geography and anthropology. The Academia Cearense de Letras (Cearense Academy of Letters) was the first institution of the sort in the country, established on August 15 1894. In 1892, Fortaleza was the site of a cultural movement of literary expression called "Spiritual Bakery". There are many other cultural centers, such as the Banco do Nordeste Cultural Centre and the Dragão do Mar Center of Art and Culture. The folklore of Fortaleza is rich and diverse, and has roots in a mixture of beliefs originating from white colonisers and native groups. Minor, but also considered important, are Syrian-Lebanese and African traditions.
Some of the cultural manifestations are:
Throughout the streets of the city during the carnival season, tourists can witness dancing and singing, accompanied by processions of brass bands. There are also colourful displays and shows placed on open trucks as part of a parade travelling across the city. In areas like Avenida Beira-mar, the residents organise sessions of dancing in the streets, tourists can participate and witness the friendly vibrant atmosphere that the Fortaleza Carnival creates.
Fortaleza is the home of numerous landmarks. They include:
Brazilian cuisine incluedes feijoada, churrasco, rice and beans. There are some dishes that are typical of the Northeast of Brazil, such as macaxeira, tapioca, carne de sol. The best restaurants in Fortaleza in 2005, as ranked by Veja magazine, were:
The warm climate, warm ocean waters and the sandy beaches attract tourists. In recent years, many of the old hotels have been replaced by European-owned international resorts. Nightlife is full of festivities with bars, restaurants and shows as the primary attraction. The city is known for having the "wildest Monday nights in the world. Some of the best bars and clubs are found near Dragão do Mar Center of Art and Culture. The Praia de Iracema (Iracema's beach), the first urban nuclei of the city, is home to many bars and restaurants. It includes the Ponte dos Ingleses (Bridge of the Englishmen) which is an ideal location for watching the sunset and spotting dolphins.
Fortaleza's urban beaches have warm waters. The scenery is complemented by the jangadas (small rafts used by many of Ceará's fishermen) for catching seafood for the Ceará cuisine. The Praia do Futuro (Beach of the Future) is a popular location with many beachside restaurants, built in the local style using carnauba straw and called "Barracas de Praia" (Beach Huts).
Iracema is the bohemian beach. Partiers (locals and tourists alike) start to gather in the afternoon and stay until the morning. For example, the Cultural Center Dragão do Mar and the night club Pirata are in Iracema, amidst a profusion of restaurants and bars.
Meireles is where locals and tourists go to stroll, bring their children to the several play grounds, drink a coconut, sit down and watch people passing by. The "feirinha de artesanato" (handicraft marke) is in Meireles. Meireles is also the area with the highest number of hotels in Fortaleza.
Mucuripe is the place of jangadas. Still used by fishermen to go into high seas, jangadas can be seen along the way during the afternoon and evenings, and returning from the sea in the morning; part of the catch of the day is sold in an old style fish market. Also, the boat trips leave from this area.
Praia do Futuro is about long, and is the preferred one for bathing and surfing. Praia do Futuro was made famous by its barracas (rustic restaurants built on the beach sand), which offer excellent food and local musical shows.
The Pinto Martins International Airport is the main airport of the city. The passenger terminal is air conditioned and has four levels. The basement level has parking for 1,000 cars as well as automatic teller machines and a stop for regular city buses. The ground level has 31 check-in counters, airline offices, car rental agencies, special tourist information, a juvenile court bureau to facilitate travel of minors, a National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) office, information counter, passenger arrival area and access to two taxi stops. The second level contains shops, a food court and domestic and international boarding lounges. The top floor has a beer garden and panoramic deck overlooking the maneuvering apron with a view of the Fortaleza skyline. The apron is and can accommodate 14 aircraft at once in pre-established positions (“boxes”).
The scheduled airlines operating out of Fortaleza are Cabo Verde Airlines (code-sharing with TAP), TAM, Varig, GOL and TAP. Delta Airlines has announced the inauguration of direct service to the USA starting 18 December 2008 along the following routing: Atlanta- Recife-Fortaleza- Atlanta. The airport also frequently receives domestic and international charter flights. The passenger terminal, opened in 1998, was designed to have a useful life of 50 years. The former terminal, called the General Aviation Terminal, is now used for general aviation and the fire brigade. The control tower is located alongside. Construction of a cargo terminal is the next big step planned by Infraero. The new terminal will have roughly eight thousand square meters, boosting the cargo storage and handling capacity fourfold. Plans then call for the new terminal to be integrated with highway and railroad links.
Fortaleza's road traffic is monitored and controlled by a system of intelligent semaphores, traffic cameras, and Led Light Message Boards. This system is known by the acronym CTAFOR wich stands for "Controle de Tráfego em Área de Fortaleza" (portuguese for Area Traffic Control of Fortaleza).
Streets in Fortaleza have poor pavement in many areas. Tourists should be advised to drive carefully in order to avoid Fortaleza's many potholes.
The city's railroad system is part of the Brazilian Company of Urban Trains (CBTU) and links Fortaleza to three other cities. It is used mainly by people from distant metropolitan areas (e.g., Maracanaú), since it is rather old and poorly maintained, and does not meet the demands of inner city commuters. Therefore, a new underground system known as MetroFor has been engineered by the state government. After years of delay and interruptions, the plans have been recently resumed, with the improvement of existing lines and construction of new underground stations. It is expected to be finished by 2010. Currently, a total of 22 stations are in operation: 13 in the south line and eight in the west line beyond the central station. 14 new stations are yet to be added to the system, three of which will be subterranean, as a part of the restructuring effort.
List of neighborhoods in Fortaleza:
The most popular sport in Fortaleza, like the rest of Brazil, is Soccer. The main games of the Ceará State Championship are played in Fortaleza. There are several association football (soccer) clubs in Fortaleza. The most important ones are Ceará SC, Fortaleza EC and Ferroviário AC. Ceará Club and Fortaleza Club belong to Brazilian Soccer Championship's second league, while Ferroviário plays no national league this season. Fortaleza is one of the 18 remaining candidates to host games of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Beisdes Soccer, Fortaleza is also home to nautical sports. Strong winds make Praia do Futuro beach an excellent place for this kind of practice. Fortaleza commonly hosts world competitions of surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. Additionally, Fortaleza is a natural brewer of high-level athletes in combat sports, as evidenced by several Fortalezans' recent success in mixed martial arts. Only a 30 minutes drive from Fortaleza there is the center of Kitesurfing , Cumbuco. Great wind from June till February.