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Brasilia_brasil.jpg
Brasília from space, November 1990
Niemeyer's Cathedral
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Niemeyer's Cathedral

Brasília is the capital city of Brazil. It is famous for its urban planning, daring architecture, and overpopulation.

Contents

Technical

Brasília is in a federal district created from the state of Goiás in the center of the country, bordered by the Preto River in the east and by the Descoberto River to the west. Brasília is situated on a 1000 m tall plateau called the Planalto Central. The city is located at 15°45' South, 47°57' West (-15.75, -47.95). Brasilia is 207 km from to Goiânia; 1,531 km. from Salvador; 716 km. from Belo Horizonte; and 1,015 km. from São Paulo.

Population and communications

The city was originally planned for 500,000, but satellite towns and the Federal District has pushed the population to about 2.2 million inhabitants by 2004. Central Brasília, known as Plano Piloto, has a population of around 200,000. Most people live in satellite towns. The population of the most important of these towns: Taguatinga 243,000; Gama 131,000; Sobradinho 130,000; Planaltina 150,000; and Ceilândia 350,000.

Brasília is just one of the 26 Administrative Regions within a Federal District that is 5,822 square km large. Officially, only "Asa Sul" (South Wing), "Asa Norte" (North Wing), and the downtown area of "Plano Piloto" (Pilot Plan) are parts of Brasília. Unofficially, Brasília can mean both the "Plano Piloto" area and all of the satellite cities; all the Administrative Regions of the Federal District and the satellite towns, are included in the term.

Highways, buses and subways provide transportation for the city. The subway system covers the South Wing, "Asa Sul". It links Park Shopping, one of the city's largest shopping malls, with a few other terminals in the south and central areas of the city; it does not extend into the northern half. Aside from the subway and the more comprehensive bus-based public transportation system, there is also a railway connection with São Paulo but no passenger trains operate anymore. Brasília is served by the Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport.

Climate

Brasília has dry winters and a wet summers. During the dry season, the relative humidity of the air reaches critical levels during the hottest times of the day.

Maximum temperatures average 28°C. During the dry season, the temperature decreases and can reach daily highs of 13°C in July. Maximum averages of 25°C are still the norm.

The average temperature is 20.5°C. The hottest month is September, with an average high of 28°C and an average low of 16°C. The coolest month is July, with an average high of 25°C and an average low of 13°C. The monthly difference between the average high is around 3 degrees celsius and the average low 5°C.

Education

In education Brasília has the best indicators in the country. The literacy rate is 93.7% according to the Human Development Index. The city has several secondary schools and universities. The most important public university is the University of Brasília (UNB). Universidade Católica (UCB) is the major private university.

Government

Brasília is the center of the federal government. The executive, legislative, and judicial powers are all located here

A planned city

History

President Juscelino Kubitschek ordered the construction of the Brasilia. It is a planned city. The main urban planner was Lúcio Costa. Oscar Niemeyer was the Chief architect to most of the public buildings and Roberto Burle Marx was the landscape designer The city plan was based on the ideas of Le Corbusier. Brasilia 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, and resources tended to center around the southeast region of Brazil. Brasilia’s geographically central location in the middle of the country would make for a more neutral federal capital. The placement of the Brazil's capital in the interior actually dates back to the first republican constitution of 1891, which defined where the federal district should be placed, but the placement was not planned until 1922. More importantly, Brasilia’s location would promote the development of Brazil's hinterland and better integrate the entire territory of Brazil. Some say the real reason was to move the government to a place far from the masses.

According to legend, in 1883 the Italian priest Don Bosco had a prophetic dream in which he described a futuristic city that roughly fit Brasília's location. Today in Brasília, there are many references to this educator who founded the Salesian order. One of the main cathedrals carries his name.

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Esplanada_dos_Ministerios_e_o_Congresso_Nacional.jpg
The Ministries Esplanade and The National Congress

Design

Lúcio Costa’s plan for the city was detailed and thorough. It stipulates which zones are to be residential, which are to be commercial; it limits where industries can settle, where certain buildings can be built, and how high those buildings can be, etc.

Costa had insisted that Brasilia be shaped it like a butterfly, but the city is shaped like an airplane instead.

The fuselage of the plane contains the ministries, government buildings, the senate and chamber of deputies, and a futuristic cathedral designed by Oscar Niemeyer. There is also a high television tower with spectacular views of the city and the lake.

The wings of the plane are named the North Wing and South Wing; each are roughly 7 km. long. The avenue between the lake and the wings -- called L2 Sul or L2 Norte depending on which wing it’s on -- has churches, schools, and hospitals.

A wide high-speed avenue, called the Eixo, connect the two wings by passing under a central bus station where the banking sector (Setor Bancário) and hotel sector (Setor Hoteleiro) are located. The 100s and 300s addresses are on one side of the Eixo, and 200s and 400s are on the other. There are residential areas on these streets made up of apartment blocks named Super Quadra Sul or Super Quadra Norte. The blocks are filled with three or six story buildings. Each has eleven buildings, identified by letter, with schools and churches in areas placed in between them. Commercial streets typically separate Superquadra blocks from each other. Green space and trees make these areas very livable, and residents of the city affirm that it is one of the best cities to raise children.

There is also a zoo near the airport with animals native to the cerrado area. Embassies, recreational clubs, and luxury homes surround the lake, and an enormous park called the Parque da Cidade gives much-needed space for cycling, jogging, and contact with nature.

One major criticism of Brasília is that it was not designed pedestrian scale. Pedestrians were not taken much into consideration during the advent of the motor age when the city was developed. In the original plan there were no traffic lights -- all cars moved over overpasses, and through tunnels to avoid intersecting traffic. Today with half a million people living in the Plano Piloto—the Pilot Plan&mdash, the plan became out-dated. Pedestrians had to walk long distances between points of interest, and the high speed avenues were dangerous to navigate. A subway has been built recently to alleviate these problems. A line was completed for the South Wing, which continuing to the major satellite city of Taguatinga. While Public transportation is plentiful but the automobile remains popular for transportation in Brasília. A popular saying is that the inhabitants are born with wheels instead of feet.

Another criticism of the Brasilia is the displacement of poor residents to far away satellite towns like —Taguatinga, Gama, Ceilândia, Sobradinho&mdash where they live in conditions inferior to those of the Pilot Plan. Some of these cities, like Taguatinga, are now larger than Brasília itself; buses and a surface rapid transit system connect these cities with the center. When one talks of Brasília these satellite cities are rarely taken into consideration, but their population far surpasses that of the Pilot Plan.

According to the original plan -- which Brasilia must follow -- the city is constantly under construction.

UNESCO has declared Brasília a World Heritage Site.


External links

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