What you need to know about Belém
Belém, is a Brazilian city, the capital and largest city of the state of Paráin the country’s north. It is the gateway to the Amazon River with a busy port, airport, and bus/coach station. Belém lies approximately 100 km upriver from the Atlantic Ocean, on the Pará River, which is part of the greater Amazon River system, separated from the larger part of the Amazon delta by Ilha de Marajó (Marajo Island). It is the 11th most populous city in Brazil, as well as the 16th by economic relevance. It is the second largest in the North Region, second only to Manaus, in the state of Amazonas. Founded in 1616 by the Kingdom of Portugal, Belém was the first European colony on the Amazon but did not become part of Brazil until 1775. The newer part of the city has modern buildings and skyscrapers. The colonial portion retains the charm of tree-filled squares, churches and traditional blue tiles. The city has a rich history and architecture from colonial times. Recently it witnessed a skyscraper boom. Belém is also known as the Metropolis of the Brazilian Amazon region or the Cidade das Mangueiras (City of Mango Trees) due to the vast number of those trees found in the city. Brazilians often refer to the city as Belém do Pará (“Belém of Pará”) rather than just Belém, a reference to an earlier name for the city, Santa Maria de Belém do Grão Pará, and also to differentiate it from a number of other towns called Belém in Brazil, as well as the Palestinian city of Bethlehem. It is named after Santa Maria de Belémin Lisbon, also better known by its shortened name, Belém. Belém is served by two airports: Val de Cães International Airport, which connects the city with the rest of Brazil and other cities in South America, and Brig. Protásio de Oliveira Airport (formerly called Júlio César Airport) dedicated to general aviation. The city is also home to the Federal University of Pará and the Pará State University.
Area Size: 1 059 km²
Population: Estimate 1,473,020 for more visit Citypopulation
Belém has a tropical rain-forest climate (climate type Af), under Köppen’s Climate classification. In all 12 months of the year, the city on average sees more than 60 mm of rainfall, so the city has no true dry season month. However, Belém features noticeably wetter and drier seasons. The wetter season spans from December through May, while the drier season covers the remaining six months of the year. Like many cities with a tropical rain-forest climate, average temperatures vary little throughout the course of the year, generally hovering around 26.5 degrees Celsius. As one would expect, tropical rain-forest is the natural vegetation in and around the city.
The local Amerindian culture extracts colors, scents, flavors, and native tastes from nature to produce a rich and exotic cuisine, adding up to the most authentic of regional cuisines. One such dish, “Cupuaçu”, comes from the Cupuaçu tree, found in the Amazonian woods. Cupuaçu is easily identified by its smell and sour taste and is highly appreciated by both locals and tourists. Its pulp is also extracted to make juices, candies, jellies, liquors, and ice cream. Açaí is a palm tree with a long, thin stem. Açaí, also known as Jussara, is purple in color with a delicious taste. Long prized by the local population, it recently it has also reached the national menu. Freshwater crab, a traditional local delicacy, is a very popular dish in the city’s cuisine. Found only in swamps, its well-tempered meat can be served in different forms: as a shell, the so-called unha (the claws) or toc-toc. “Maniçoba” is one of the highlights of the local cuisine. Its preparation is time-consuming and its final appearance is quite surprising for those who have never tried it, due to the dark look of the cooked maniva (ground manioc leaves). But this first impression ends quickly, after you taste the dish with its seemingly awkward ingredients. Maniçoba is often served in ceramic dishes, and can be eaten with rice or with manioc flour and capsicum.
The most valuable products now exported from the Amazon by way of Belém are aluminium, iron ore, and other metals., nuts (chiefly Brazil nuts), pineapples, cassava, jute, wood veneers, and hardwoods. Japanese immigration after the 1930s was an important factor in developing jute and black pepper, notably at Tomé-Açu, just south of Belém, and near Santarém. Marajó Island, the largest fluvial island in the world, which lies just across the Rio Pará from Belém, has some livestock grazing. Electricity is provided by the massive Tucuruí Dam, some 300 km southwest of the city on the Tocantins River.
The three main football teams in Pará are based in Belém: Remo, Paysandu and Tuna Luso. The Estádio Olímpico do Pará is the biggest in the city and hosts 45,000 spectators, the stadium hosts the Grande Premio Brasil de Atletismo, that is part of the IAAF World Challenge.
Belém has a modern appearance with tree-lined streets, several plazas and public gardens, and many noteworthy buildings. The north’s leading educational and cultural center, it is the seat of a bishopric, and its cathedral (Igreja da Sé, founded in 1917) is one of Brazil’s largest. Santo Alexandre, the oldest of Belém’s churches, was built in 1616. The Museu (museum) Paraense Emílio Goeldi, the Teatro da Paz (a classical theatre), and the public library and archives are other notable institutions. The Universidade Federal do Pará (1957), a teacher-training school, an agricultural institute, and an institute for research on tropical diseases are also in the city. The Ver-o-Peso (Portuguese: “see the weight”) market in the old port centre is a major tourist attraction. The city is also home to a large football stadium, the Estádio Olímpico do Pará.
Belém International Airport (Val de Cans) is the major airport serving the city of Belém. The building design uses plane curves on its roof to permit light to enter its entire large terminal hall. The architect Sérgio Parada used adopted multiple-use totems integrated with light projectors, a sound system, air conditioning, and public telephones. Currently Belém International Airport serves 2.7 million passengers a year, in a constructed area of 33,255.17 square metres (357,955.67 square feet). Traditionally called Val-de-Cães Airport, it is responsible for increasing tourism in the Amazon region, as well as for the outflow of products and attracting new investments. The passenger terminal is fully air conditioned on two levels and has “futuristic” architecture, designed to take advantage of natural lighting. People with special needs have individualized service with own equipment at specific locations to facilitate their access. The terminal’s interior is decorated with plants native to the Amazon region and is enclosed by a source able to imitate the sound of the rains that fall every day in the region. The smaller Brig. Protásio de Oliveira Airport (Júlio César) also administrated by Infraero, is used for general aviation.
BR-316 is the major access highway for those coming from the Northeastern Brazil. For visitors from the Southern, Southeastern, and Mid-Eastern Regions, the best route is BR-010, which originates in Brasília in the South, and also PA-150, a route that links Belém to Southern Pará.
Belém can be reached by the Tocantins River and Amazon’s River and by the Atlantic Ocean. The city of Belém has been referenced in the opening episode of the TV series No Ordinary Family, where Powell’s go for a family vacation.
The Amazon represents more than half the planet’s remaining rain-forests and comprises the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rain forest in the world. Wet tropical forests are the most species-rich biome, and tropical forests in the Americas are consistently more species rich than the wet forests in Africa and Asia. As the largest tract of tropical rain-forest in the Americas, the Amazonian rain-forests have unparalleled biodiversity. More than one-third of all species in the world live in the Amazon Rain-forest.