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The Municipality of Fortaleza


Nickname(s): Fortal
Motto: "Fortitudine"
Fortaleza is located in Brazil
Location in Brazil
Coordinates: 3°43′6″S 38°32′34″W / 3.71833°S 38.54278°W / -3.71833; -38.54278Coordinates: 3°43′6″S 38°32′34″W / 3.71833°S 38.54278°W / -3.71833; -38.54278
Country  Brazil
Region Northeast
State Bandeira do Ceará.svg Ceará
Founded April 13, 1726
 • Mayor Roberto Cláudio (PROS)
 • Municipality 313.8 km2 (121.2 sq mi)
Elevation 21 m (69 ft)
Population (2013)
 • Municipality 2,551,806
 • Rank 5th
 • Density 8,100/km2 (21,000/sq mi)
 • Metro 3,602,319
Time zone BST (UTC-3)
Postal Code 60000-000
Area code(s) +55 85

Fortaleza (Portuguese pronunciation: [foʁtaˈlezɐ], Fortress) is the state capital of Ceará, located in Northeastern Brazil. With a population close to 2.55 million (metropolitan region over 3.6 million), Fortaleza is the 5th largest city in Brazil. It has an area of 313 square kilometres (121 sq mi) and the highest demographic density in the country (8,001 per km²). To the north of the city lies the Atlantic Ocean; to the south are the municipalities of Pacatuba, Eusébio, Maracanaú and Itaitinga; to the east is the municipality of Aquiraz and the Atlantic Ocean; and to the west is the municipality of Caucaia. Residents of the city are known as Fortalezenses. The current mayor is Roberto Cláudio, a doctor who graduated from the Federal University of Ceará. Fortaleza is one of the three leading cities in the Northeast region together with Recife and Salvador. The city will be one of the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, for which Brazil is the host nation.


Fortaleza in 1910.
Passeio Público in 1919.

Fortaleza's history began on February 2, 1500, when Spaniard Vicente Pinzón landed in Mucuripe's cove and named the new land Santa Maria de la Consolación. Because of the Treaty of Tordesillas, the discovery was never officially sanctioned. Colonisation began in 1603, when the Portuguese Pero Coelho de Souza constructed the Fort of São Tiago and founded the settlement of Nova Lisboa (New Lisbon). Later, the Dutch occupied the Brazilian Northeast and founded the Fort Schoonenborch. When they were expelled from Ceará, the Portuguese renamed it Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora da Assunção. In 1726, the town of the fort was raised to the condition of village. In 1799, the Province of Ceará was separated from the Province of Pernambuco and Fortaleza was chosen as its capital.

During the 19th century, Fortaleza was consolidated as an urban centre in Ceará, supported by the cotton industry. With the increase of direct navigational communications with Europe, the Customs of Fortaleza was created in 1812. In 1824, the city was targeted by the revolutionaries of Confederation of the Equator. Between the years 1846 and 1877, the city went through a period of enrichment, economic and infrastructural improvement. This included the export of cotton and the development of diverse workmanships, such as the creation of the 2 secondary schools, the Ceará and Mucuripe Lighthouse in 1845, Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Fortaleza in 1861, Prainha Seminary in 1864, Public Library in 1867 and the Public transportat network in 1870, which began with the construction of Railroad of Baturité.

Ferreira Square in 1920.
View of Leoes Palace in 1936

The decades of 1870 and 1880 were a period referred to as abolitionist and republican. Such movements caused the Emancipation of enslaved African-Brazilians in Ceará on March 25, 1884, four years before slavery was eradicated from the country as a whole. The literary movement "Spiritual Bakery" appeared in 1892 and pioneered the spreading of modern ideas in literature in Brazil. Other entities of the time included the Ceará Institute and Ceara's Academy of Letters established in 1887 and 1894 respectively.

In the twentieth century, Fortaleza underwent significant urban changes, with improvements and the rural exodus to the city, with growth mostly towards the end of the decade of 1910, this made the city the seventh most populated city in Brazil. In 1922, Fortaleza reached its first hundred thousand inhabitants with the annexation of the cities of Messejana and Parangaba, now important districts of the city.

In 1954, the first university in the city was created, the UFC (Universidade Federal do Ceará). Between 1950 and 1960, the city achieved an economic expansion in excess of 100% and outlying neighborhoods began to grow.

During the years of 1964–1985 several changes took place in Fortaleza which made the city a central region for industries. Governor Virgílio Távora (1963–1966) initiated the implantation of Industrial District of Fortaleza (DIF I). One decade later, the city already had about a million inhabitants, Metropolitan areas were created Brazil (1973), making the city one of them. In 1983 DIF I started to integrate the territory of the new city of Maracanaú, which, just some years ago, was made again part of the Greater Fortaleza (the city's Metropolitan area). In the 1980s, Fortaleza exceeded Recife in population terms, becoming the second most populous city in Northeastern Brazil, with 1,308,919 inhabitants.

During the political awakening that followed the military regime, the people elected the city's first woman mayor, Maria Luíza Fontenele of the Workers' Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores), which meant that the city administration was controlled by a party of the centre-left. At the end of the twentieth century, the administration of the city hall and the city underwent a range of structural changes with the opening of several avenues, hospitals, cultural spaces and it became one of the main tourist destinations in the Northeast and in Brazil.


Iracema Beach.


Fortaleza has a typical tropical climate, specifically a tropical wet and dry climate, with high temperatures and high relative humidity throughout the year. However, these conditions are usually relieved by pleasant winds blowing from the ocean. Average temperatures are not much different throughout the year. December and January are the warmest months, with a high of 31 °C (88 °F) and low of 25 °C (77 °F). The rainy season spans from February to May (locally called "winter" due to the rain, not the temperature), with rainfall particularly prodigious in March and April. The average annual temperature is 27 °C (81 °F). The relative humidity in Fortaleza is 77%, with average annual rainfall of 1,378.3 millimetres (54.26 in).

Generally, the Fortaleza climate is characterized by its heat. The breeze during hot days is refreshing, as wind speed in the city is typical of sea-side cities. The wind direction is from the sea towards the land, or from west towards east. This wind direction, accompanied by ideal wind speed, makes different wind-dependent activities like surfing and kite flying ideal activities in Fortaleza.

Fortaleza weather is unique in that there is usually rain during the first six months of the year from January to June. During this period, relative humidity is high. Fortaleza's climate is usually very dry from August to December, with very little rainfall.

Climate data for Fortaleza
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 38
Average high °C (°F) 30.5
Daily mean °C (°F) 27.6
Average low °C (°F) 24.7
Record low °C (°F) 21
Precipitation mm (inches) 129.6
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 14 18 23 22 22 16 13 8 9 6 7 9 167
 % humidity 78 80 83 83 82 80 78 75 74 73 73 78 78.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours 217.0 178.0 148.8 153.0 207.7 240.0 263.5 167.4 282.0 297.6 282.0 257.3 2,694.3
Source #1: World Meteorological Organization.,[1] Hong Kong Observatory (sun only 1961–1990)[2]
Source #2: Weatherbase (record highs and lows, humidity)[3]


In Fortaleza there are some remaining areas of mangrove, in preserved areas.[4][5] Some species of fruit trees are also found in many areas of Fortaleza, specially coconut and mango trees.


View of Fortaleza's coast.
Engenheiro Santana Júnior Avenue.
Metropolitan Cathedral of Fortaleza.

According to the 2010 IBGE Census, there were 2,315,116 people residing in the city of Fortaleza.[6] The census revealed the following numbers: 1,403,292 Brown (Multiracial) people (57.2%), 901,816 White people (36.8%), 110,811 Black people (4.5%), 33,161 Asian people (1.4%), 3,071 Amerindian people (0.1%).[7]

In 2010, the city of Fortaleza was the 5th most populous city in Brazil, after São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Brasília.[8]

In 2010, the city had 433,942 opposite-sex couples and 1,559 same-sex couples. The population of Fortaleza was 53.2% female and 46.8% male.[7]


The dominant religion of Fortaleza is Roman Catholicism due to the influence of Portuguese settlers and missionaries during the colonial rule of Brazil.

Religion Percentage Number
Catholic 79.0% 1,691,487
Protestant 12.58% 269,469
No religion 5.99% 128,190
Kardecist 0.83% 17,780
Jehovah's Witnesses 0.64% 13,758
Other religions 0.7% 15,923

Source: IBGE 2000.[9]


Shopping mall in Fortaleza.

Fortaleza's GDP is R$28 billion, arising from its diversified commerce and tourism. Downtown Fortaleza, or the Centro, is where most commercial activities happen. Avenida Monsenhor Tabosa, near Iracema Beach, is another commercial district. Among the largest shopping malls are Iguatemi, North Shopping, Aldeota, Del Paseo and Via Sul.

The manufacturing industry produces footwear, textiles, leather-derived items, and processed food and beverages. Presently, Fortaleza offers wide and diversified options of spaces, which allows different kinds of events to be promoted, ranging from small business meetings to national and international congresses and fairs that receive thousands of people. The biggest and best-equipped space for events available in the Northeast of Brazil is the Events Centre of Ceará (CEC) in Fortaleza, opened in 2012.

Besides this one, many hotels, business centers and other establishments also offer adequate spaces for different types of gatherings. TAF Airlines has its headquarters in Fortaleza.[10]

The GDP for the city was R$28,350,622,000 (2008).[11]

The per capita income for the city was R$11,461 (2008).[12]


The UECE campus

Higher education in Fortaleza is provided by a significant number of public and private institutions. Fortaleza is home to some of the most important universities and research centres in the northeast region of Brazil.

  • Universidade Federal do Ceará (UFC), (public, federal, free of charge);
  • Universidade Estadual do Ceará (UECE), (public, state-owned, free of charge);
  • Instituto Federal do Ceará (IFCE), (public, federal, free of charge);
  • Universidade de Fortaleza (UNIFOR), (main private university);
  • Universidade do Vale do Acaraú (Uva), (private);
  • Universidade Regional do Cariri (URCA);
  • Universidade Christus (UniChristus), (private);
  • Faculdade Farias Brito (FFB);
  • Faculdade Integrada do Ceará (FIC);
  • Faculdade 7 de Setembro (FA7);
  • Faculdades do Nordeste (FANOR);
  • Faculdade Latino-Americana de Educação (FLATED);
  • Faculdade Ateneu (FATE);
  • Associação Educacional Cearense (AEC);


João Felipe Railway Station in Fortaleza
Ancuri Music School in Fortaleza

Since the end of the 19th century, the city has been home to various cultural institutions. The Instituto do Ceará (Ceará Institute) was established in 1887, and conducts research in history, geography and anthropology. The Academia Cearense de Letras (Cearense Academy of Letters) was the first institution of the sort in the country, established on August 15, 1894. In 1892, Fortaleza was the site of a cultural movement of literary expression called "Spiritual Bakery". There are many other cultural centres, including the Banco do Nordeste Cultural Centre and the Dragão do Mar Center of Art and Culture. The folklore of Fortaleza is rich and diverse, and has roots in a mixture of beliefs originating from white colonisers and native groups. Minor, but also considered important, are Syrian-Lebanese and African traditions.

Some of the cultural manifestations are:

  • Quadrilhas juninas: hundreds of large groups of traditional folk dances, that organize to make presentations, usually to the sound of forró, during the festas juninas, in the month of June (and also July).
  • Bumba-meu-boi or Boi-Ceará: songs and dances of a religious cult to the ox, with Portuguese roots.
  • Torém: dance originated by the tremembés.
  • Violeiros, cantadores and emboladores: musical manifestations expressing social criticism, has typical northeast origins.
  • Maracatu: Dance and music, the Fortaleza maractu is of the Baque Virado or Nação lines and is celebrated during carnivals.
  • Dança do coco: originated by Afro-Brazilians. On the beach it is just for men and in the hinterland it is danced in pairs.


Fortaleza Carnival season is not known as famous as that in other northeastern cities like Salvador or Recife. Through the streets of Fortaleza, the Carnival brings the samba together with festivities as a celebration of Fortaleza's past and diverse culture. It is particularly notable for its unique style of maracatu known as maracatu cearense.

Throughout the streets of the city during the carnival season, tourists can see dancing and singing, accompanied by processions of brass bands. There are also displays and shows placed on open trucks as part of a parade travelling across the city. In areas like Avenida Beira-mar, the residents organize sessions of dancing in the streets.


View of Fortaleza's Mucuripe lighthouse

Fortaleza is the home of numerous landmarks. They include:


Straw sheds at Praia do Futuro Beach.

Brazilian cuisine includes feijoada, churrasco, rice and beans. There are some dishes which are typical of the Northeast of Brazil, such as macaxeira, tapioca, carne de sol, but the typical food of Ceará is Baião-de-dois(one kind rizotto form rice, beans en cheese).


The most popular sport in Fortaleza, like the rest of Brazil, is football. The main games of the Ceará State Championship are played in Fortaleza. There are several association football clubs in Fortaleza. The most important ones are Ceará SC, Fortaleza EC and Ferroviário AC. The city is host to the Free Kick Masters Tournament on December 28, 2013 and also one of the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, for which Brazil is the host nation.

Beside football, Fortaleza is also home to nautical sports. Strong winds make Praia do Futuro beach an excellent place for this kind of practice. Fortaleza commonly hosts world competitions of surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. Additionally, Fortaleza is a natural developer of high-level athletes in combat sports, as evidenced by several Fortalezans' recent success in mixed martial arts.[13] Only a 30 minutes drive from Fortaleza there is the center of kitesurfing, Cumbuco. Great wind from June till February.[14]


Fortaleza is a major tourist destination for the domestic Brazilian market. The city has several major hotels which are rated as five star although these often do not meet international standards. That said they offer acceptable quality at a reasonable price. In addition there are several four star hotels as well as pousadas.

Nightlife in Fortaleza centres around local Forro music and dancing or fine dining. Over the last four years several high quality restaurants have opened up as the city raises it standards generally and in particular with the world cup in view. In addition to these paid for venues, Fortaleza also has a well trodden beach front promenade at the Beira Mar where joggers start before 6am and after the sun goes down at 6pm. On this beach front there is a variety of events to view including volleyball, roller hockey, the Japanese Garden, the arts market and people generally out enjoying a walk with their families.

Further along the beach front is the new pier and later the roller skating area close to Iracema beach.

During the day time the beaches of Praia do Futuro are used as those near the Beira Mar are not considered clean. In Praia de Futuro tourists will find several good quality beach complexes of which the most popular are Crocobeach, Atlantidiz and Cocobeach. Food in any one is of standard beach quality and the atmosphere of a holiday nature. These close when the sun goes down and the area becomes rather dark and deserted at night. Hotels in this area should be avoided. Fortaleza is the number one destination for Brazilian tourists, after Rio de Janeiro.

In addition to the beach visitors can see the cathedral, the fort, the popular market, major shopping centres (such as Iguatemi) as well as other beaches (cumbuco, beach park, or further afield)

Scuba diving is possible in the area of Pedra da Risca do Meio State Marine Park, a marine protected area located about 10 nautical miles from the shoreline of Fortaleza.

Urban beaches[edit]

Fortaleza has about 25 kilometres (16 mi) of urban beaches. From North to South, the urban beaches of Fortaleza are Iracema, Meireles, Mucuripe and Praia do Futuro. Each beach has its own peculiarities:

  • Iracema is the bohemian beach, with bars and nightclubs;
  • Meireles is where locals and tourists go to stroll, and is also the area with the highest number of hotels in Fortaleza;[citation needed]
  • Mucuripe is the place of jangadas. Still used by fishermen to go into high seas, jangadas can be seen along the way during the afternoon and evenings, and returning from the sea in the morning; part of the catch of the day is sold in an old style fish market. Also, the boat trips leave from this area;
  • Praia do Futuro is about 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) long, and is the preferred one for bathing and surfing. Praia do Futuro was made famous by its barracas (rustic and sophisticated restaurants built on the beach sand).[citation needed].

Beach Park[edit]

The Beach Park complex is ocean front and is located in Porto das Dunas, self-sufficient and only 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from the city of Fortaleza. The Beach Park is the largest aquatic park of South America.[citation needed]


International Airport[edit]

The passenger terminal at Fortaleza International Airport is totally air-conditioned and has four levels. There are direct flights to Lisbon, Rome, Amsterdam and Praia. All major destinations in Brazil are also connected to Fortaleza.


View of Fortaleza's BR116 entrance

The system of traffic monitoring is known by the acronym CTAFOR, which stands for "Controle de Tráfego em Área de Fortaleza" (Traffic Control of the Area of Fortaleza). Streets in Fortaleza have poor road surfaces in suburban areas, while the tourist areas and those close to the centre of the city have better infrastructure.

Urban Train[edit]

The city's railway system is managed by the Brazilian Urban Trains Company (CBTU) and links Fortaleza to three other cities. It is used mainly by people from distant metropolitan areas e.g., (Maracanaú) rather than inner-city commuters, since it is rather old and poorly maintained. Therefore, a new underground system MetroFor has been engineered by the state government in order to link the main points of the city.

Fortaleza harbor.


Fortaleza Harbour is an artificial port located in the Mucuripe inlet. The quay is 1,054 metres (3,458 ft) wide. It contains an exclusive-mooring platform for oil-production. Its warehouse area is 6,000 square metres (65,000 sq ft) wide and offers more than 100,000 square metres (1,100,000 sq ft) for container placing. It also contains two wheat mills and is interconnected to the railway system by an extensive maneuver area.


Regions and Neighborhoods of Fortaleza.
Neighborhoods of Fortaleza.
Metropolitan Region of Fortaleza.
President Castelo Branco Mausoleum.
Náutico's beach seashore.
José de Alencar's birth house in the bairro of Messejana.
Sunset in Fortaleza.
Baobab tree in Martyrs Square.
Dom Luis Avenue at night.
Meireles Neighborhood.
  • Aerolândia
  • Aeroporto
  • Alagadiço
  • Alagadiço Novo
  • Aldeota
  • Alto da Balança
  • Álvaro Weyne
  • Amadeu Furtado
  • Ancuri
  • Antônio Bezerra
  • Autran Nunes
  • Barra do Ceará
  • Barroso
  • Bela Vista
  • Benfica
  • Bom Futuro
  • Bom Jardim
  • Bom Sucesso
  • Cais do Porto
  • Cajazeiras
  • Cambeba
  • Canindezinho
  • Carlito Pamplona
  • Castelão
  • Centro
  • Cidade 2000
  • Cidade dos Funcionários
  • Coaçu
  • Cocó
  • Conjunto Ceará
  • Conjunto Cearazinho
  • Conjunto Esperança
  • Conjunto Palmeiras
  • Couto Fernandes
  • Cristo Redentor
  • Curió
  • Damas
  • Demócrito Rocha
  • Dendê
  • Dionísio Torres
  • Dias Macedo
  • Dom Lustosa
  • Dunas
  • Édson Queiroz
  • Eng Luciano Cavalcante
  • Farias Brito
  • Fátima
  • Floresta
  • Genibaú
  • Granja Lisboa
  • Granja Portugal
  • Guajeru
  • Guararapes
  • Henrique Jorge
  • Itaoca
  • Itaperi
  • Jacarecanga
  • Jangurussu
  • Jardim América
  • Jardim Cearense
  • Jardim das Oliveiras
  • Jardim Guanabara
  • Jardim Iracema
  • João XXIII
  • Joaquim Távora
  • Jóquei Clube
  • José Bonifácio
  • Lagoa Redonda
  • Manuel Sátiro
  • Maraponga
  • Mata Galinha
  • Meireles
  • Messejana
  • Mondubim
  • Monte Castelo
  • Montese
  • Moura Brasil
  • Mucuripe
  • Padre Andrade
  • Panamericano (Fortaleza)
  • Papicu
  • Parangaba
  • Parque Araxá
  • Parque Dois Irmãos
  • Parque Iracema
  • Parque Manibaú
  • Parquelândia
  • Parreão
  • Passaré
  • Paupina
  • Pedras
  • Pici
  • Pirambu
  • Praia de Iracema
  • Praia do Futuro
  • Prefeito José Válter
  • Presidente Kennedy
  • Presidente Vargas
  • Quintino Cunha
  • Rodolfo Teófilo
  • Sabiaguaba
  • Salinas
  • Santa Rosa
  • São Gerardo
  • São João do Tauapé
  • São José
  • Sapiranga
  • Serrinha
  • Siqueira
  • Varjota
  • Vicente Pinzón
  • Vila Elery
  • Vila Pery
  • Vila União
  • Vila Velha

Notable people[edit]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Fortaleza is twinned with:

Country City State / Region
Venezuela Venezuela Caracas coat of arms.gif Caracas[15] BanderaCaracasDC.png Venezuelan Capital District
United States United States MiamiBeachCity seal.png Miami Beach[16]  Florida
Italy Italy Montese-Stemma.png Montese[17] Regione-Emilia-Romagna-Stemma.svg Emilia-Romagna
Brazil Brazil Brasão de Natal.jpg Natal[18] Bandeira do Rio Grande do Norte.svg Rio Grande do Norte
Cape Verde Cape Verde Cape Verde Praia[19] Cape Verde Santiago
United States United States Racineflag.gif Racine[20]  Wisconsin
Senegal Senegal Senegal Saint-Louis[21] Senegal Saint-Louis Region


  1. ^ Climate Information for Fortaleza, World Weather Information Service, accessed August 7, 2012.
  2. ^ Climatological Information for Fortaleza, Brazil, Hong Kong Observatory, accessed August 7, 2012.
  3. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Fortaleza". Retrieved August 7, 2012. 
  4. ^ Manguezal do Rio Ceará (Portuguese)
  5. ^ Manguezal do Rio Cocó (Portuguese)
  6. ^ 2010 IGBE Census (Portuguese)
  7. ^ a b 2010 IGBE Census (Portuguese)
  8. ^ The largest Brazilian cities – 2010 IBGE Census (Portuguese)
  9. ^ "Sistema IBGE de Recuperação Automática – SIDRA". Retrieved April 17, 2010. 
  10. ^ "TAF prepara sua expansão nacional." Gazeta Mercantil. October 7, 2007. Retrieved on November 21, 2009.
  11. ^ GDP (PDF) (in Portuguese). Fortaleza, Brazil: IBGE. 2008. p. 18. Retrieved July 13, 2011. 
  12. ^ per capita income (PDF) (in Portuguese). Fortaleza, Brazil: IBGE. 2008. Retrieved July 13, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Move Over Rio, Make Room for Fortaleza". MMAPredictions. Retrieved July 16, 2007. 
  14. ^ "the largest english portal for Cumbuco". Retrieved April 17, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Pragmatismo marca gestão de Luizianne em Fortaleza". Clipping do Ministério do Planejamento. 17 de abril de 2007. Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Sister City of Miami Beach — City Commission Meeting" (PDF). City of Miami Beach. 26 de maio de 2004. Retrieved July 14, 2008.  [dead link]
  17. ^ "La Força Expedicionária Brasileira — F.E.B". MUSEO STORICO DI MONTESE. Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  18. ^ "Lei 9083 Considera Cidade Irmã de Fortaleza a cidade de Natal" (PDF). Diário Oficial do Município de Fortaleza. 1 de junho de 2006. Retrieved July 14, 2008.  [dead link]
  19. ^ "Praia gemina-se com Fortaleza no seu 150º aniversário". Embaixador de Cabo Verde em Brasília. 29 de abril de 2008. Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  20. ^ "Online Directory: Brazil, Americas". Sister Cities International. 2008. Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  21. ^ "O 1º Intercâmbio Econômico e Cultural Afro-Brasileiro possibilita negócios entre Senegal e Ceará". APRECE. 2006. Retrieved July 14, 2008. 

External links[edit]