What was the reason behind the selection of Brazil’s capital?

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By Felicity Long

Brazil’s capital: A Brief History

The history of Brazil’s capital can be traced back to 1763 when the Portuguese Crown established Rio de Janeiro as the capital of Brazil. Rio de Janeiro remained the capital of Brazil for over 200 years, until 1960 when the country’s capital was moved to Brasília. The move was significant for Brazil as it represented a shift in the country’s political and economic landscape.

Brazil’s Former Capitals

Before Rio de Janeiro was established as the capital of Brazil, Salvador served as the capital of Brazil for nearly two centuries. Salvador was the center of Brazil’s sugar industry in the 16th century and was a significant port for the slave trade. The city played a crucial role in Brazil’s history, particularly during the colonial period. In 1763, Rio de Janeiro became the capital of Brazil, and it remained the capital until 1960.

The Search for a New Capital

In the early 20th century, Brazil’s leaders recognized the need for a new capital. The country’s political and economic center had shifted to the interior, and Rio de Janeiro was no longer an ideal location for the capital. The search for a new capital began in 1922, but it was not until the 1950s that the project gained momentum.

Choosing the Location

After considering various locations, the Brazilian government chose an area in the center of the country to build the new capital. The location of Brasília was chosen for strategic reasons. The government wanted a new capital that was centrally located and could be easily accessed from all parts of the country. The area was also chosen for its relative lack of development, which made it easier to build a new city from scratch.

Brasília’s Design and Construction

Brasília’s design and construction were groundbreaking. The city’s design was based on the principles of urban planning and modern architecture. The architect Oscar Niemeyer and urban planner Lúcio Costa were the key figures behind Brasília’s design. Brasília was built in just four years, from 1956 to 1960, with the construction of the city being a massive feat of engineering.

The Political Climate in Brazil

The political climate in Brazil at the time played a significant role in the decision to build a new capital. Brazil was transitioning from a dictatorship to a democracy, and the government wanted to show the world that Brazil was a modern, forward-thinking nation capable of great achievements.

Economic and Social Factors

The move to Brasília was also driven by economic and social factors. Brazil’s leaders recognized the need to develop the interior of the country, and the construction of a new capital was seen as a catalyst for development. The construction of Brasília also provided employment opportunities for thousands of Brazilians.

The Role of Juscelino Kubitschek

Juscelino Kubitschek, Brazil’s president from 1956 to 1961, played a significant role in the construction of Brasília. Kubitschek was a visionary leader who believed that Brazil needed a new capital to showcase the country’s potential. He made the construction of Brasília a top priority and was instrumental in securing the funding for the project.

The Inauguration of Brasília

Brasília was inaugurated on April 21, 1960, in a lavish ceremony attended by world leaders. The inauguration of Brasília was a significant event for Brazil, marking a new era in the country’s history. The city was hailed as a triumph of modern architecture and urban planning.

Impact of Brasília’s Construction

Brasília’s construction had a significant impact on Brazil. The construction of the city boosted Brazil’s national pride and helped to establish the country as a modern, forward-thinking nation. Brasília also played a significant role in the development of the interior of Brazil, providing a hub for economic and social development.

Brasília Today

Today, Brasília is a thriving city with a population of over 3 million people. The city remains the political center of Brazil and is home to many government institutions. Brasília is also a center for education and research, with several universities and research institutes located in the city.

Conclusion: The Reasoning Behind Brasília

The decision to build Brasília was driven by a range of factors, including the need for a new capital that was centrally located, the desire to showcase Brazil’s potential as a modern, forward-thinking nation, and the need to develop the interior of the country. Brasília’s construction had a significant impact on Brazil, boosting national pride and helping to establish Brazil as a significant player on the global stage. Today, Brasília remains an important city, playing a crucial role in Brazil’s political, economic, and social landscape.

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Felicity Long

Felicity Long, a seasoned travel journalist with 15+ years of experience, specializes in exploring Europe, family travel, and skiing, as evident in her book "Great Escapes: New England" (The Countryman Press). She edits the Europe eNewsletter and contributes significantly to TravelAsker's destinations sections. Felicity has received esteemed awards, including the Cacique and Yo Leonardo Awards, in recognition of her outstanding international travel writing accomplishments.

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