Fortaleza is the state capital of Ceará, located in Northeastern Brazil. It belongs to the Metropolitan mesoregion of Fortaleza and microregion of Fortaleza. It is Brazil’s 5th largest city and the twelfth richest city in the country in GDP. It also has the third richest metropolitan area in the North and Northeast regions. It is an important industrial and commercial center of Brazil, the nation’s eighth largest municipality in purchasing power. According to the Ministry of Tourism, the city reached the mark of second most desired destination of Brazil and fourth among Brazilian cities in tourists received. The BR-116, the most important highway of the country, starts in Fortaleza. The municipality is part of the Common Market of Mercosur Cities, and also the Brazilian state capital which is closest to Europe, 5,608 kilometres (3,485 mi) from Lisbon, Portugal.
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. Fortaleza is one of the three leading cities in the Northeast region together with Recife and Salvador.
Fortaleza Colonial History
Colonisation began in 1603 CE, when the Portuguese Pero Coelho de Souza constructed the Fort of São Tiago and founded the settlement of Nova Lisboa (New Lisbon). After a victory over the French in 1612, Martins Soares Moreno expanded the Fort of São Tiago and changed its name to Forte de São Sebastião.
In 1630 the Dutch invaded the Brazilian Northeast and in 1637 they took the Fort of São Sebastião and ruled over Ceará. In battles with the Portuguese and natives in 1644 CE the fort was destroyed. Under captain Matthias Beck the Dutch West Indies Company built a new fortress by the banks of river Pajeú. Fort Schoonenborch (“graceful stronghold”) officially opened on August 19, 1649 CE. After the capitulation of Pernambuco in 1654 CE, the Dutch handed over this fortress to the Portuguese, who renamed it Fortaleza da Nossa Senhora de Assunção (“Fort of Our Lady of the Assumption”), after which the city of Fortaleza takes its name.
Fortaleza was officially founded as a village 1726 CE, becoming the capital of Ceará state in 1799 CE.
Imperial and Republican Period of Fortaleza
During the 19th century, Fortaleza was consolidated as an urban centre in Ceará, supported by the cotton industry. With the transformation of the city into a regional export center and with the increase of direct navigation to Europe, the customs building of Fortaleza was built in 1812. In 1824, the city was targeted by the revolutionaries of Confederation of the Equator.
The city gained a number of new districts in the 1930s, including Messejana and Porangaba. In 1954, the first university in the city was created, the Universidade Federal do Ceará (UFC).
In 1983 the city 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 2,571,896 inhabitants.