Fortaleza

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Fortaleza (lit. "Fortress", Portuguese pronunciation: [foʁtaˈlezɐ]) is the state capital of Ceará, located in Northeastern Brazil. With a population of over 2.5 million (metropolitan region over 3.4 million), Fortaleza is the 5th largest city in Brazil. It has an area of 313 square kilometres (121 sq mi) and one of the highest demographic densities in the country (8,001 per km²). To the north of the city lies the Atlantic Ocean; to the south are the cities of Pacatuba, Eusébio, Maracanaú and Itaitinga; to the east is the county of Aquiraz and the Atlantic Ocean; and to the west is the city of Caucaia. Residents of the city are known as Fortalezenses.

The current mayor is Luizianne Lins a former academic at the local Federal University of Ceará and well known feminist. On Beira-mar Avenue, kiosks and restaurants offer regional seafood, Sushi, Brazilian dishes and many more varieties of food; there are also many bars which provide anything from beer to cocktails. At the handcraft fair (the feirinha), many stands show embroidery and leather work, as well as jewelry and regional food or artisinal cachaça. Of the urban beaches in Fortaleza, Praia do Futuro is the most frequented and is characterized by restaurants along the beach, each one with its own musical style and decoration.

The statue of Iracema refers to the legend of the Indian which was depicted in a novel by José de Alencar, a famous Brazilian author who originated from Fortaleza. Mucuripe Beach holds the Lighthouse Museum. Opened in 1846, the lighthouse was active for 111 years, until it was closed in 1957. Dragão do Mar Art and Culture Center holds the Cearense Culture Memorial, the Contemporary Art Museum and Rubens de Azevedo Planetarium, as well as movies and theaters. Besides this, many old warehouses were refurbished and became bars and restaurants surrounding the central area of town. There are cuisine and show options in the evening. It is most certainly one of the trendiest places to be seen.

Nightlife includes bars, nightclubs and restaurants, open every day in the week, besides the characteristic comedy shows that have introduced nationally famous artists. An off-season carnival, Fortal, happens in Fortaleza in July. With a remodeled structure in 2008, the event has parking lots, bleachers, stalls and food court. The event lasts 4 days and around 1.5 million people enjoy the nationally famous axé music bands. Fortaleza also stages music festivals in Brazil, such as Ceará Music. This yearly event includes local artists and international pop rock stars for 3 days. Around 25 thousand people enjoy the fun and several concerts, electronic music tents, and fashion shows.

The Pinto Martins International Airport connects Fortaleza with major Brazilian cities and also operates international flights. The city is home to the Federal University of Ceará.

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