As the national capital, Brasília is the seat of all three branches of the Brazilian government. The city also hosts the headquarters of many Brazilian companies. Planning policies such as the locating of residential buildings around expansive urban areas, as well as building the city around large avenues and dividing it into sectors, have sparked a debate and reflection on life in big cities in the 20th century. The city's planned design included specific areas for almost everything, including accommodation, Hotel Sectors North and South. New areas are now being developed for hotels, such as the Hotels and Tourism Sector North, on the
President Juscelino Kubitschek ordered the construction of Brasília, fulfilling an article of the country's constitution dating back to 1891 stating that the capital should be moved from
Lúcio Costa won a contest and was the main urban planner in 1957, with 5550 people competing. Oscar Niemeyer, a close friend, was the chief architect of most public buildings and Roberto Burle Marx was the landscape designer. Brasília was built in 41 months, from 1956 to April 21, 1960, when it was officially inaugurated. From 1763 to 1960,
This makes it the largest city (by population) in the world at the close of the 20th century that did not exist at the beginning of the century (a distinction held by
Brasília's inhabitants include a foreign population of mostly embassy workers as well as large numbers of Brazilian migrants. Today, the city has important communities of immigrants and refugees. The Human Development Index in the city is at 0.936 in the year 2000, (developed nation level), and the illiteracy rate is around 4.35%.
At the northwestern end of the Monumental Axis are federal district and municipal buildings, while at the southeastern end, near the middle shore of Lake Paranoá, stand the executive, judicial, and legislative buildings around the Square of Three Powers, the conceptual heart of the city.
A series of low-lying annexes (largely hidden) flank both ends. Also in the square are the glass-faced
Both low-cost and luxury housing were built by the government in the central city. The residential zones of the inner city are arranged into superquadras ("superblocks"): groups of apartment buildings along with a prescribed number and type of schools, retail stores, and open spaces. At the northern end of
After a visit to Brasília, the French writer Simone de Beauvoir complained that all of its superquadras exuded "the same air of elegant monotony," and other observers have equated the city's large open lawns, plazas and fields to wastelands. As the city has matured, some of these have gained adornments, and many have been improved by landscaping, giving some observers a sense of "humanized" spaciousness. Although not fully accomplished, the "Brazilian utopia" has produced a city of relatively high quality of life, in which the citizens live in forested areas with sporting and leisure structure (the superquadras) flanked by small commercial areas, bookstores and cafes; the city is famous for its cuisine and efficiency of transit.
Even these positive features have sparked controversy, expressed in the nickname "ilha da fantasia" ("fantasy island"), indicating the sharp contrast between the city and surrounding regions, marked by poverty and disorganization in the cities of the state of Goiás, around Brasília.
Critics of Brasília's grand scale have characterized it as a modernist platonic fantasy about the future:
World Heritage Site
The Brazilian capital is the only city in the world built in the 20th century to be awarded (in 1987) the status of Historical and Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, an agency of the UN. It also holds the distinction of waiting the shortest amount of time to be designated a World Heritage Site of any UNESCO entry, which occurred just 27 years after its completion in 1960.
Besides being the political center, Brasília is an important economic center. The city is the 3rd richest of
The main agricultural products produced in the city are coffee, guavas, strawberries, orange, lemons, papayas, soy beans and mangoes. It has over 110,000 cows and it exports wood products worldwide.
The city's planned design included specific areas for almost everything, including accommodation, Hotels Sectors North and South. New hotel facilities are being developed elsewhere, such as the hotels and tourism Sector North, located on the shores of
Universidade de Brasília –
As a venue for political events, music performances and movie festivals, Brasília is a cosmopolitan city, with around 119 embassies, a wide range of restaurants and complete infrastructure ready to host any kind of event. Not surprisingly, the city stands out as an important business tourism destination, which is an important part of the local economy, with dozens of hotels spread around the national capital. Traditional parties take place throughout the year. In June, there are large festivals celebrating Catholic saints, such as Saint Anthony, Saint John, the Baptist, and Saint Peter, that are called "festas juninas," or June festival. On September 7, the traditional Independence Day parade is held on the Ministries Esplanade. Throughout the year there are local, national and international events spread through the city. Christmas is widely celebrated, and New Years Eve usually hosts major events.