Info on São Paulo

São Paulo (meaning Saint Paul in English) is the capital of São Paulo state in southeastern Brazil. It is located at , 250 miles (400 km) from Rio de Janeiro, and 640 miles (1030 km) from Brasília.
The city has an area of 1,575 square kilometers (575 sq miles) and a population of approximately 10.9 million (according to CityMayors, 2003), which make it the largest city in Brazil by far and the second largest city of the world in terms of population.
About 20 million people live in the Greater São Paulo metropolitan area, which is currently ranked as the second-largest in the world and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
São Paulo is a major business center in Brazil. The city has a multicultural metropolitan area, which some have compared to New York City, with heavy Portuguese, Italian, Arabian and Japanese influences. São Paulo is known for its varied and sophisticated gastronomy, ranging from Chinese to French, from fast food chains to five star restaurants. Its night life is animated by thousands of bars, pubs, lounges and discos, that cater for a variety of music tastes and are often open all night.
São Paulo is home to University of São Paulo, to a major art museum (MASP), a major symphonic orchestra (OSESP), a Formula One Grand Prix race track (Interlagos), and the world's largest private-owned sports stadium (Morumbi, São Paulo soccer team stadium).
There are two major airports in the São Paulo metropolitan area: Guarulhos (GRU, for domestic and international flights) and Congonhas (CGH, for domestic flights only).
São Paulo was founded on 25 January 1554.
São Paulo is the financial and industrial center of Brazil. For instance, the city is said to have more German companies than any other single city outside Germany.
São Paulo's stock exchange market is the Bovespa, while its futures exchange market is BM&F . Its financial districts are located on the surroundings of Avenida Paulista and in the Centro Velho (Old Downtown). Other important business districts are located near Avenida Berrini, Itaim Bibi, Vila Olímpia and Chácara Santo Antônio neighbourhoods.
There are a number of highly specialized regions, like Bom Retiro and Brás (wholesale garment districts), Consolação (lighting equipment), Rua Santa Ifigênia (electrical and electronic parts), Rua Teodoro Sampaio (furniture and musical equipment), the posh Rua Oscar Freire (stylist and label stores) and the crowded Rua Vinte e Cinco de Março. Many media and communications industries have headquarters in São Paulo, which is home to a large number of advertising and broadcasting companies.
As in many other large cities in developing countries, a large percentage of São Paulo's population lives below the poverty line. The city is surrounded and permeated by extensive shantytowns (favelas and cortiços).
Because of its economic and demographic weight, São Paulo has always played a pivotal role in Brazilian politics. With a constituency larger than that of many Brazilian states, the mayor's office is viewed by politicians as a springboard for state and national-level offices.
Bienal de São Paulo
Almost 1 million people visited the 26th Bienal in 2004.
Its theme was chosen to enable a wide range of artistic positions to feel comfortable. The concept of "Free Territory" involved various dimensions: it had a physical-geographical, a socio-political as well as an aesthetic dimension – the latter, of course, being of greatest interest in the context of this exhibition.
In order to emphasize the thematic unity of the overall exhibition, the invited artists and those representing the countries are mixed together on the 25,000 square meters of the spacious Oscar Niemeyer Pavillion. Despite the complexity of individual voices, the end result was intended to be a unity.
In addition to an intensification of the North-South dialog inside Brazil, the Bienal's aims include the promoting of links between non-European cultures along a South-South orientation.
More to come in 2006.
São Paulo Fashion Week
It seems that Brazil has finally entered the world of fashion with the increasing reputation of famous Brazilian top models such as Gisele Bündchen, Fernanda Tavares and Ana Beatriz Barros, and the "discovery" of some fresh talents such as Alexandre Herchcovitch by some international fashion magazines. As a consequence of this, São Paulo Fashion Week is the place to see and to be seen in Brazilian fashion scene, always attracting a number of international fashion editors and models.
Nowadays, São Paulo Fashion Week is one of the most relevant fashion events in Brazil. It takes place twice a year, at the building of Bienal de São Paulo.
São Paulo Gay Parade
Also a major event in the city, the São Paulo Gay Parade has brought to Avenida Paulista about 1 million people in 2003, according to official statistics. It is usually opened by the city mayor, and a huge carnival goes all the way downtown.
São Silvestre Marathon
The São Silvestre Marathon is one of Latin America's largest road races and it takes place every New Year's Eve (31 December). It was first held in 1925, when the competitors ran about 8,000 metres around the streets. Since then, the distance raced has varied, and it is now fixed at 15km. Registration takes place from 1st October, with the maximum number of entrants limited to 15,000.
The city was founded on January 25, 1554, by Portuguese Jesuit missionaries José de Anchieta and Manoel da Nóbrega, who established a mission — the Colégio de São Paulo de Piratininga — to convert the Tupi-Guarani Native Brazilians to Catholic religion. Located just beyond the Serra do Mar cliffs overlooking the port city of Santos, and close to River Tietê, the new settlement became the natural entrance to the vast and fertile plateau that would eventually become the State of São Paulo.
First named São Paulo de Piratininga, São Paulo became officially a city in 1711. It experienced a boom during the coffee cycle, starting in the late 19th century — chiefly because of its privileged position next to the port of Santos, through which most of the country's exports were shipped.
After 1881, waves of immigrants from Italy, Japan and many other countries arrived in São Paulo, at first to work at the enormous coffee plantations established in the State. In the 20th century, with the increasing industrial development of the country, many of them moved to Sao Paulo, which also attracted new contingents of immigrants.
Another important historical landmark is the Universidade de Sao Paulo's Law School, also known as Largo São Francisco, claimed to be the first academic institution in Brazil. First installed into a monastery, it was founded in 1827, right after the beggining of the Brazilian Republic, following the increasing need for lawyers and politicians. As rich Brazilians used to go to Lisbon to take undergraduate Law courses, the Brazilian regent, Dom Pedro I, decided it was high time to create a national Law School. The university attracted students from all over the country, who gave São Paulo a bohemian lifestyle.
The city is crossed by many of the most important expressways of the country, like the BR-116, SP-270, SP-280, Anhanguera, Anchieta, Castelo Branco and Imigrantes. Some railways also cross the city. They are, however, very old and were constructed intending not to attend people, but to transport coffee to Santos's seaport. Santos continue to have Brazil's busiest seaport thanks to São Paulo's needings (exportation and importation of industrializated goods).
São Paulo has two airports. Congonhas Domestic Airport operates domestic and regional flights mainly to Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasília. Campo de Marte handles some private and small airplanes. Guarulhos International Airport, located 25 km northeast from downtown in the neighbouring city of Guarulhos, operates domestic and international flights to the city.
The city has approximately 60 km of subway system (known as Metro), complemented by another 270 km of CPTM (Companhia de Trens Metropolitanos - Company of Metropolitan Trains) railways. Both CPTM and the subway lines carry some 3.5 million people on an average weekday, and a few new underground lines to be constructed are expected to add another million people to the system within the next 5 years.
The bulk of the public transportation (public and private companies) is composed by more than 10,000 buses. Also, there is a strong presence of informal transportation (dab vans).
São Paulo grew quickly from the 1940s to the 1980s and many roads and buildings were constructed without major planning. As a result, heavy traffic is common in the main avenues of the city, and traffic jams are relatively common in its larger highways (mainly during floods). The main mean of commuting into the city is by car and by bus.
Ethnic diversity
São Paulo has a great ethnic diversity that can be compared to New York or Toronto:
3 million people are direct or indirect descendants of Portuguese.
3 million people are direct or indirect descendants of Italians. There is a building named Edifício Itália (Italy Building), in honor to the Italians. It was once the tallest building of the city (165m).
3 million people have direct or indirect African heritage.
1 million people are direct or indirect descendants of Japanese. São Paulo has the largest number of Japanese outside Japan.
1 million people are direct or indirect descendants of Germans.
350 thousand people are direct or indirect descendants of Lebanese.
Other considerable groups are:
Current critical problems
Since the beginning of the 20th century, São Paulo has been the major economic city of Brazil. With the advent of the two Great Wars and the Great Depression, exportation of coffee to the US and Europe was critically affected, which led the rich coffee farmers to invest in industrialization in the city. This fact attracted many people from other regions of the country, especially from the Northeastern. From a population of merely 32,000 inhabitants in 1880, São Paulo increased its population to aproximately 250,000 in 1900, 1,800,000 in 1940, 4,750,000 in 1960 and 8,500,000 in 1980. The effects of this population boom in the city are:
São Paulo grew quickly and in a very disorganized manner. With no proper organization, the city grew without leaving much space for highways and parks. Major traffic jams are relatively common in many roadways of the city.
A very common scene (that can still be seen today) is of 'nordestinos' (Brazilians from the Northeastern part of the country) arriving in packed buses, in the Bus Terminal of the city, in the search for a better life (ironically, it is also common nowadays to see these same buses to carry 'nordestinos' back to their homeland).
Aproximately 1,500,000 people now live in favelas (Slums) in Sao Paulo and surrounding areas.
Crime has suddenly increased, and kidnappings and robbery are relatively common in the city.
Floods are common nowadays in São Paulo, as a consequence of rare green areas and relative impermeability of the ground. Rainwater cannot be properly drained and water accumulates quickly, causing floods in specific regions of the city.
Air pollution is high and the two major rivers crossing the city, Tietê and Pinheiros, are critically polluted.
Although there are several parks across the city, the per capita green area of São Paulo is very small. This fact, associated with high criminality, led to a reclusion in the lives of many people in the city. Condominiums equipped with cameras and homes and apartments with windows equipped with bars are common in the city.
Major Holidays
January 1 – New Year
January 25 – São Paulo's Anniversary
Between January and March – Carnival (it is a Brazilian national holiday, and it is not regular. It is always during the two days following a weekend, and the holiday finishes itself at 11:59 am in a Wednesday (Quarta-Feira de Cinzas)
At the beginning of April – Easter
April 21 – Tiradentes
May 1 – Labor Day
2nd Sunday of May – Mother's Day
July 9 – Constitutional Revolution of 1932
2nd Sunday of August – Father's Day
September 7 – Independence Day
October 12 – Children's Day / Our Lady's Day
November 2 – All Souls' Day
November 15 – Republic Day
December 25 – Christmas
December 31 – New Year's Eve
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