Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Population:||1 342 202 (Estimate: 07/2003)|
|Height:||10 m above sea level|
|Geographic location:|| 01° 28' South|
48º 29' West
|Address of the local government:|| Prefeitura de Belém|
Palácio Antonio Lemos
Praça Dom Pedro II s/n
Belém is a city in the nothern part of Brazil. It is the capital and also the biggest city of the state of Pará. Its metropolitan area has ca. 2.01 milions of inhabitants. It is the entrance gate and, together with Manaus, the most important city in the brazilian amazonic region. It is also known as Cidade das mangueiras (city of the mango trees) due to the amount of those trees found in the city.
The city was founded on January 12, 1616 by capitain Francisco Caldeira Castelo Branco, who was sent by the Portuguese crown to defend the region against French, Dutch and British colonisation attempts. For this purpose, he built a fortress called Forte do Presépio (currently called Forte do Castelo).
Initially, the city was named Feliz Lusitânia. Later it was renamed to Santa Maria do Grão Pará as well as Santa Maria de Belém do Grão Pará, finally receiving its current name Belém.
Due to the growing importance of rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) from the end of the 19th until the beginning of the 20th century, Belém became a very important marketplace. During this period many important buildings were constructed, such as Palácio Lauro Sodré, Colégio Gentil Bitencourt, Teatro da Paz, Palácio Antônio Lemos and the Ver-o-Peso market.
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