About Porto Alegre City

04-06-2011 00:08

 

Porto Alegre

Porto Alegre
Municipality
The Municipality of Porto Alegre
From upper left: Farroupilha Park; Guaíba Lake; panoramic view of the port of the city; The Usina; Monument to the Azorean with the Administrative Center of the State of Rio Grande do Sul.
   
Nickname(s): Porto (spoken), POA (written)
Motto: Loyal and Valiant city of Porto Alegre
 
Country Brazil
Region South
State Bandeira Estado RioGrandedoSul Brasil.svg Rio Grande do Sul
Founded 1742
Government
- Mayor José Fortunati (PDT)
Area
- Municipality 496.8 km2 (191.8 sq mi)
Elevation 10 m (33 ft)
Population (2008)
- Municipality 1,436,123 (10th)
- Density 2,815.6/km2 (7,292.4/sq mi)
- Metro 4,063,886
Time zone UTC-3 (UTC-3)
- Summer (DST) UTC-2 (UTC-2)
Postal Code 90000-000
Area code(s) +55 51
Website Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul

Porto Alegre (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈpoɾtu aˈlɛɡɾ] ( Happy Harbour) is the tenth most populous municipality in Brazil, with 1,409,939 inhabitants, and the centre of Brazil's fourth largest metropolitan area (3,979,561 inhabitants). It is also the capital city of the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. The city is the southernmost capital city of a Brazilian state. Porto Alegre is one of top cultural, political and economic centers of Brazil. Two Mercosul countries, Argentina and Uruguay, border on the State of Rio Grande do Sul.

Porto Alegre was founded in 1742 by immigrants from the Azores, Portugal. In the late 19th century the city received many immigrants from other parts of the world, particularly Germany, Italy, and Poland. The vast majority of the population is of European descent.

The city lies on the eastern bank of the Rio Guaiba (Guaiba Lake), where five rivers converge to form the Lagoa dos Patos (Lagoon of the Ducks), a giant freshwater lagoon navigable by even the largest of ships. This five-river junction has become an important alluvial port as well as a chief industrial and commercial center of Brazil.

The port of Porto Alegre is important for transporting local produce. The "Gaucho capital" has a broad-based economy that lays particular emphasis on agriculture and industry. Agricultural production includes produce such as plums, peaches, rice and cassava grown on rural smallholdings. The shoe and leather industries are also important, especially in Novo Hamburgo, in the Metropolitan Region of Porto Alegre.

Porto Alegre has a long coastline on the Guaíba Lake, and its topography is punctuated by 40 hills. In the lake, a vast body of water, a maze of islands facing the city creates an archipelago where a unique ecosystem gives shelter to abundant wildlife. The city area concentrates 28% of the native flora of Rio Grande do Sul, with 9,288 species. Among these, there are many trees which are the vestiges of the Atlantic Forest. Fauna are also diversified, specially in the islands and hills. The Portoalegrense environs include many parks, squares and wooded streets.

In recent years, Porto Alegre hosted the World Social Forum, an initiative of several non-government organizations. The 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches was held in Porto Alegre in 2006.

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[edit] The city

Porto Alegre seen from the Guaíba River.
Azoreans Square.

The city is located on a delta resulting from the junction of five rivers, officially called Guaíba Lake (popularly mentioned as a river too). Although its origins date from the mid-18th century, when immigrants from the Azores settled in the area, the city was officially established in 1742.[3] Porto Alegre is also one of the wealthiest cities in Latin America,[4] and one of the most diverse. It has welcomed immigrants from all over the world, the largest numbers coming from Portugal, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland. There are also significant Arab and Jewish contingents in the population. The Afro-Brazilian population is also large in the city.

Before this, Porto Alegre was the port of Viamão on the shore of Guaíba Lake. Its ancient name was Porto dos Casais (Port of the Couples), and it was initially settled by Azorians. Many families of settlers also came from the city of Rio Grande (Big River) in the littoral Lagunar region, to the south, a military fortress at that time. Today Rio Grande is the most important port of the State of Rio Grande do Sul. The city is also known as "Porto do Sol" (Port of the Sun) and "Cidade Sorriso" (Smile City).[5] More than 70 neighborhoods (see below) are part of the city and two-thirds of the population are concentrated in the Zona Norte (Northern Zone), where most of the economic activity, including the city center, takes place.

Porto Alegre was the seat of the World Social Forum in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2010. As the second largest city in southern Brazil, it is also an important industrial center in this geographical area. It is also a center for gaúcho (the popular name for natives of the state) history and culture, famous for its churrasco (barbecue) and chimarrão (a strong and hot tea prepared from erva mate). Important Brazilian universities, such as UFRGS, UFCSPA and PUCRS are located there. In 2000, the literacy rate was 97%.[6] The high quality of life is one of the city's main features. Here people will find an excellent urban infrastructure, telecommunications and excellent medical service.[7]

[edit] Geography

[edit] Climate

Panorama of Downtown Porto Alegre

Porto Alegre is located in the subtropical zone and thus features a humid subtropical climate. Average precipitation is high and regular throughout the year. Summer temperatures often rise above 32 °C (90 °F) and high levels of humidity make the season very muggy. Subtropical climate is a climate zone characterized by hot, humid summers and chilly to mild winters. Significant amounts of precipitation occur in all seasons in most areas. Most summer rainfall occurs during thunderstorms and an occasional tropical storm, hurricane or cyclone.

The winter is mild, windy, and quite changeable, which is also a feature of this time of the year. Usual winter temperatures range from 8 °C (46 °F) to 20 °C (68 °F). Snow is very rare, sometimes confused with sleet. The main snowfall events in Porto Alegre were in 1879, 1910, 1962, 1984, 2000 and 2006. Fall tends to be as changeable as winter, but are typically warmer. Spring, stabler akin to summer, is slightly drier than all the other seasons. Occurrence of radiation fog is common, causing several delays in early flights.

[hide]Climate data for Porto Alegre
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 39
(102)
41
(106)
39
(102)
36
(97)
33
(91)
32
(90)
32
(90)
33
(91)
36
(97)
38
(100)
38
(100)
39
(102)
41
(106)
Average high °C (°F) 31
(88)
31
(88)
28
(82)
26
(79)
22
(72)
19
(66)
19
(66)
20
(68)
21
(70)
23
(73)
27
(81)
29
(84)
24
(75)
Daily mean °C (°F) 25
(77)
25
(77)
23
(73)
21
(70)
17
(63)
14
(57)
14
(57)
15
(59)
16
(61)
18
(64)
21
(70)
23
(73)
20
(68)
Average low °C (°F) 19
(66)
20
(68)
18
(64)
16
(61)
12
(54)
9
(48)
9
(48)
10
(50)
12
(54)
14
(57)
16
(61)
18
(64)
14
(57)
Record low °C (°F) 11
(52)
11
(52)
8
(46)
4
(39)
-2
(28)
-3
(27)
-4
(25)
-2
(28)
0
(32)
3
(37)
5
(41)
8
(46)
-4
(25)
Precipitation cm (inches) 9
(3.5)
8
(3.1)
10
(3.9)
10
(3.9)
11
(4.3)
13
(5.1)
12
(4.7)
12
(4.7)
13
(5.1)
9
(3.5)
8
(3.1)
9
(3.5)
124
(48.8)
Source: BBC Weather[8]

[edit] Vegetation

Glória Hill, a rural area of the city.

Porto Alegre lies in a transitional area between the subtropical forest and the Southern Brazilian grasslands (pampa). A number of conservation programmes have been established here to protect native trees. Many of the city's avenues have been planted with different tree species. One striking example of this is Teresópolis Avenue, where bottle trees have been planted. The city is covered in green vegetation and Lapacho and Jacaranda are the main species that can be found here. The trees from the hills are protected. Two environmental conservation areas can be found in this city: "Delta do Jacuí" (Jacuí Delta) State Park and Lami Biological Reserve.[9]

The urban area has many parks and plazas, making Porto Alegre one of the greenest provincial capitals in Brazil. The first city squares date from the second half of the 18th century and were originally large public spaces used as food markets. The city has 39 km2 (9,600 acres) of green space, occupying 31 percent of the city's area. This is an average of 17.6 m² per person. More than one million trees line the public streets and SMAM plants an average of 30,000 seedlings each year. The four main parks are: Parque Farroupilha, a 37-hectare (91-acre) park; Jardim Botânico (The Botanical Garden of Porto Alegre), with some 725 species of vegetation on about 43 hectares (110 acres) of land; and Parque Marinha do Brasil (The Brazilian Navy's Park), a vast park of more than 70 hectares (170 acres) which offers a wide variety of sports fields and tracks. The city's cycleway is called the Caminho dos Parques, which at over 5 km (2 mi) long links the Moinhos do Vento, Farroupilha and Guaíba shore parks.[10]

[edit] Water

Sunset Sunset in Porto Alegre

Sewer service is available to 84 percent of the city, and with 99.5 percent of the population serviced by treated water. While in most Brazilian cities the water is supplied by large state companies, in Porto Alegre the Municipal Department of Water and Sanitation Services, (DMAE) is the provider. It is the largest municipal water supplier in the country and enjoys operational autonomy and financial independence.

Aerial view of Guaíba Lake and Porto Alegre.

As a separate entity from the municipal government it can make its own decisions on how to invest revenues it has collected, and such decisions are not directly subject to interference from the municipality. It receives no subsidies and makes no payments to the municipality itself. As a municipal undertaking, DMAE enjoys tax-exempt status, which allows it to keep water prices lower.[11]

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approves US$ 83.2 million to support the Integrated Socioenvironmental Program of Porto Alegre. The program will be carried out by the Municipal Department of Management and Strategic Support and will focus on: Improving water quality in Guaíba Lake and the Cavalhada River; Developing urban infrastructure to reduce flood risk along the Cavalhada River; Improving the environmental management in the Municipality of Porto Alegre; and Promoting efficient municipal water, sanitation and storm drainage services. This program will improve the quality of life of the population of Porto Alegre by restoring water quality along the west side of Lake Guaíba and directly benefitting more than 700,000 residents through expanded public sanitation services and urban environmental improvement.[12]

[edit] Air quality

Panoramic view.

Motor vehicles are responsible for up to 80 percent of the main atmospheric pollutant emissions. In the last 40 years, the population of the city has doubled and the number of cars has multiplied 22 times, about one vehicle for every two inhabitants. The use of new buses along dedicated busways has decreased pollutants as there is less idling time. SMAM (the Municipal Council of the Environment) has encouraged the use of the cleanest fuels and has played a role in monitoring pollution levels.

A partnership between SMAM, the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, the State Environmental Protection Foundation (FEPAM) and Petrobrás has created a network of five air monitoring stations in Porto Alegre. By utilizing a Petrobrás product called city diesel, sulphur levels in the air have dropped from 1.2 percent in 1989 to 0.5 percent. Hybrid buses which run on both diesel and electricity are also being considered for the future. Because Porto Alegre has a ready supply of natural gas, the city's taxi fleet is gradually being converted to it from gasoline.[13]

[edit] History

Porto Alegre in 1852.

Porto Alegre began as a large farm whose surroundings were inhabited by Indians from several different tribes. A small village formed in the area in 1752 by settlers mainly from the Azores, and in 1772 the parish of São Francisco do Porto dos Casais was formed. A year later the bishop changed the parish's name to Nossa Senhora Madre de Deus do Porto Alegre (Our Lady Mother of God of the Happy Port) and the city was selected as the location for the provincial government.

Porto Alegre had become a city of 12,000 inhabitants by 1822, the year the Brazil gained independence. The main port facilities were built between 1845 and 1860. By the end of the century the population had risen to 73,000. The city became known worldwide in 1963 through hosting the World University Games. In 1985 the people of Porto Alegre joined the movement for free elections and one of the largest demonstrations took place in the city.[14]

[edit] Demographics

Interior of the Public Market.
The Public Market in the city center.
Methodist Church in the city.
Public Library of the State.
São Pedro Theatre.

According to the IBGE of 2008, there were 4,026,000 people residing in the Metropolitan Region of Porto Alegre. The population density was 2,905.3 inhabitants per square kilometre (7,525 /sq mi) (in the urban area). The last PNAD (National Research for Sample of Domiciles) census revealed the following percentage: 3,218,000 White people (79.94%), 477,000 Brown (Multiracial) people (11.84%), 300,000 Black people (7.45%), 19,000 Amerindian people (0.48%), 8,000 Asian people (0.20%).[15]

Porto Alegre is mostly composed of Brazilians of European descent. Its colonization started in the mid-18th century, mostly with the arrival of Portuguese colonists from the Azores Islands. From 1748 to 1756, 2,300 Azoreans were sent to the region by the King of Portugal to protect Southern Brazil from neighboring invaders.[16]

These colonists, mostly composed of married couples, established the city of Porto dos Casais (literally translated "harbor of the couples"), nowadays Porto Alegre. In 1775, 55% of Rio Grande do Sul's population was of Azorean Portuguese origin.[17]

Porto Alegre was composed mainly of Azoreans and their African slaves until the first half of the 19th century. The first non-Portuguese people to settle Rio Grande do Sul were German immigrants. In 1824, the first immigrants from Germany arrived in Porto Alegre, but they were sent to what is now the city of São Leopoldo (28 km (17 mi) away). From 1824 to 1914, 50 thousand Germans arrived in Rio Grande do Sul.[18]

Most of these colonists had rural communities in the interior of the State as their first destination. The large rural exodus in Brazil in the early 20th century brought many German-descendants to Porto Alegre and, nowadays, they compose a large percentage of the population.[19]

The second largest group of immigrants who arrived in Porto Alegre were the Italians. They started immigrating to Brazil in 1875, mainly from the Northern Italian Veneto region.[20] As the Germans, Italians were also first sent to rural communities, mainly in the