Today I arrived in Brasilia, capital of Brazil. Brasilia is a “planned city”, fear of invasion and a desire to develop the Brazilian heartland were the primary reasons for moving the capital from Rio de Janeiro. Brasilia is therefore bang in the middle of this huge country. Construction took place in the late 50’s in what is essentially the middle of nowhere (but near some beautiful lakes). The location was finalized in 1955, the first streets here were paved in 1958, and the city inauguration was on April 20th, 1960 – from nothing to city in 3 years, quite impressive. Originally intended for a population of 500,000, there are now over 2,000,000 residents here (in Brasilia, and in satellite cities) making it the 5th or 6th largest city in Brazil (and significantly smaller than São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro). Buildings here are very modern, some looking even futuristic (the Congress building looks like something left behind by a UFO). Brasilia feels like everything that São Paulo is not, it has wide open spaces, lots of green, a real road system (with interesting intersections that eliminate the need for many traffic lights) … Actually, it does not feel like Brazil at all.
And that’s your history / geography lesson for today.