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Not to be confused with Hortaleza.
For other uses, see Fortaleza (disambiguation).
The Municipality of Fortaleza
Clockwise from top: Panorama view of downtown Aratanha and Maranguape area, Theatro José de Alencar, Fortaleza Metropolitan Cathedral, A monument of the Guardian of Iracema in Iracema Beach, Meireles Beach, Ingleses Bridge in Iracema Beach, Dragão do Mar Center of Art and Culture
Clockwise from top: Panorama view of downtown Aratanha and Maranguape area, Theatro José de Alencar, Fortaleza Metropolitan Cathedral, A monument of the Guardian of Iracema in Iracema Beach, Meireles Beach, Ingleses Bridge in Iracema Beach, Dragão do Mar Center of Art and Culture
Flag of Fortaleza
Official seal of Fortaleza
Nickname(s): Fortal
Miami Brasileira (Brazilian Miami)
Terra da Luz (Land of Light)
Motto: "Fortitudine" (Latin)
Location of Fortaleza
Fortaleza is located in Brazil
Location in Brazil
Coordinates: 3°43′6″S 38°32′34″W / 3.71833°S 38.54278°W / -3.71833; -38.54278Coordinates: 3°43′6″S 38°32′34″W / 3.71833°S 38.54278°W / -3.71833; -38.54278
Country  Brazil
State Bandeira do Ceará.svg Ceará
Founded April 13, 1726
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Mayor Roberto Cláudio (PDT)
 • Vice Mayor Gaudêncio Lucena (PSD)
 • Municipality 314.93 km2 (121.60 sq mi)
 • Metro 7.440,053 km2 (2.872621 sq mi)
Elevation 21 m (69 ft)
Population (2016)
 • Municipality 2,609,716
 • Rank 5th
 • Metro 4,019,213
 • Metro density 540.21/km2 (1,399.1/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Portuguese: Fortalezense
Time zone BST (UTC-3)
Postal Code 60000-000
Area code(s) +55 85
Website Fortaleza, Ceará

Fortaleza ([foʁtaˈlezɐ], locally [fɔɦtaˈlezɐ], Portuguese for Fortress) is the state capital of Ceará, located in Northeastern Brazil. It belongs to the Metropolitan mesoregion of Fortaleza and microregion of Fortaleza. Distant 2285 km (1420 miles) from Brasilia, the federal capital, the city has developed on the banks of the creek Pajeú, and its toponymy is an allusion to Fort Schoonenborch, which gave rise to the city, built by the Dutch during their second stay in place between 1649 and 1654. The motto of Fortaleza, present in its coat of arms is the Latin word Fortitudine, which in Portuguese means "strength, value, courage."

Fortaleza in 2013 was the twelfth richest city in the country in GDP and second in the Northeast, with 49 billion reais (US$21 billion). 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 eighth nation's largest municipal purchasing power. According to the Ministry of Tourism, the city reached the marks of second most desired destination of Brazil and fourth Brazilian city that receives more tourists. 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 capital which is closest to Europe, 5608 km (3484 miles) from Lisbon, Portugal.[1][2]

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.[2][3]

The city was one of the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Additionally, Fortaleza was one of the host cities of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.


Historical Affiliations

PortugalPortuguese Empire 1630–1815
Flag of New Holland.svgDutch West India Company 1649–1654
Flag of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves.svgUnited Kingdom of PBA 1815–1822
Flag of Empire of Brazil (1870-1889).svgEmpire of Brazil 1822–1889
BrazilRepublic of Brazil 1889–present

Plan of Fort Schoonenborch in 1649
Fortaleza in 1910

Fortaleza's history began on February 2, 1500, when Spaniard Vicente Pinzón landed in Mucuripe's cove and named the new land Santa Maria de la Consolación. Because of the Treaty of Tordesillas, the discovery was never officially sanctioned. Colonisation began in 1603, when the Portuguese Pero Coelho de Souza constructed the Fort of São Tiago and founded the settlement of Nova Lisboa (New Lisbon).[4] 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.[5]

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 the fort was destroyed.[5] 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. After the capitulation of Pernambuco in 1654, 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.[6]

Fortaleza was officially founded as a village 1726, becoming the capital of Ceará state in 1799.[7]

During the 19th century, Fortaleza was consolidated as an urban centre in Ceará, supported by the cotton industry. In 1824, the city was targeted by the revolutionaries of Confederation of the Equator. Between the years 1846 and 1877, the city went through a period of enrichment, economic and infrastructural improvement. This included the export of cotton and the development of diverse workmanships, such as the creation of the 2 secondary schools, the Ceará and Mucuripe Lighthouse in 1845, Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Fortaleza in 1861, Prainha Seminary in 1864, Public Library in 1867 and the Public transportation network in 1870, which began with the construction of Railroad of Baturité.[8]

Ferreira Square in 1920

In the twentieth century, Fortaleza underwent significant urban changes, with improvements and the rural exodus to the city, with growth mostly towards the end of the decade of 1910, this made the city the seventh most populated city in Brazil. In 1922, Fortaleza reached its first hundred thousand inhabitants with the annexation of the cities of Messejana and Parangaba, now important districts of the city.[9] In 1954, the first university in the city was created, the Universidade Federal do Ceará(UFC) .[10]

View of Leoes Palace in 1936

In 1983 DIF I 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.[11]

During the political awakening that followed the military regime, the people elected the city's first woman mayor, Maria Luíza Fontenele of the Brazilian Workers' Party, which meant that the city administration was controlled by a party of the centre-left. At the end of the twentieth century, the administration of the city hall and the city underwent a range of structural changes with the opening of several avenues, hospitals, cultural spaces and it became one of the main tourist destinations in the Northeast and in Brazil.[12]


Aerial view of Iracema Beach


Fortaleza has a typical tropical climate, specifically a tropical wet and dry climate, with high temperatures and high relative humidity throughout the year. However, these conditions are usually relieved by pleasant winds blowing from the ocean. Average temperatures are not much different throughout the year. December is the warmest month, with a high of 30.7 °C (87.3 °F)[13] and low of 24.6 °C (76.3 °F).[14] The rainy season spans from February to May, with rainfall particularly prodigious in March and April.[15] The average annual temperature is 26.6 °C (79.9 °F).[16] The relative humidity in Fortaleza is 79%,[17] with average annual rainfall of 1,608.4 millimetres (63.32 in).[15]

Fortaleza weather is unique in that there is usually rain during the first seven months of the year from January to July. During this period, relative humidity is high. Fortaleza's climate is usually very dry from August to December, with very little rainfall.[15][17]

Climate data for Fortaleza (1961–1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 37.7
Average high °C (°F) 30.5
Daily mean °C (°F) 27.1
Average low °C (°F) 24.4
Record low °C (°F) 20
Average rainfall mm (inches) 119.1
Average rainy days (≥ ≥ 1 mm) 11 15 22 21 19 14 10 5 5 4 3 6 132
Average relative humidity (%) 78.1 81.4 84.7 85.2 83.6 81 78.8 75.3 74.4 74 73.7 75.9 78.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 225.2 182.3 150 157.1 208.4 238.7 268.3 295.9 281.6 291.4 282.2 262.3 2,843.4
Source: Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology (INMET).[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]


In Fortaleza there are some remaining areas of mangrove in preserved areas.[22][23] The municipality contains the 3,320 hectares (8,200 acres) Pedra da Risca do Meio Marine State Park created in 1997 to support an offshore area of reefs of ecological and tourist importance.[24]


View of Fortaleza's coast

According to the 2010 IBGE Census, there were 2,315,116 people residing in the city of Fortaleza.[25] The census revealed the following numbers: 1,403,292 Pardo (multiracial) people (57.2%), 901,816 White people (36.8%), 110,811 Black people (4.5%), 33,161 Asian people (1.4%), 3,071 Amerindian people (0.1%).[26]

In 2010, the city of Fortaleza was the 5th most populous city proper in Brazil, after São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Brasília.[27]

In 2010, the city had 433,942 opposite-sex couples and 1,559 same-sex couples. The population of Fortaleza was 53.2% female and 46.8% male.[26]

The following cities are included in the metropolitan area of Fortaleza (ordered by population): Fortaleza, Caucaia, Maracanaú, Maranguape, Aquiraz, Pacatuba, Pacajus, Horizonte, São Gonçalo do Amarante, Itatinga, Guaiúba and Chorozinho.[28]

According to a genetic from 2011, 'pardos' and whites' from Fortaleza, which comprise the largest share of the population, showed up a degree of European ancestry of about 70%, being the rest basically divided between Native American and African ancestries.[29] A 2015 study, however, found out the following composition in Fortaleza: 48,9% of European contribution, 35,4% of Native American input and 15,7% of African ancestry.[30]

View of Fortaleza


Church of Our Lady of Lebanon, one of the four Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Brazil.
Metropolitan Cathedral of Fortaleza, the country's third biggest.[31]

The prevailing religion of Fortaleza is the Roman Catholic branch of Christianity, due to the influence of Portuguese settlers and missionaries during the colonial rule of Brazil.

Religious affiliation Percentage Number
Catholic 79.0% 1,691,487
Protestant 12.58% 269,469
No religion 5.99% 128,190
Kardecist 0.83% 17,780
Jehovah's Witnesses 0.64% 13,758
Other religions 0.7% 15,923

Source: IBGE 2000.[32]


Entrance of the Bispo Palace, seat of the municipal executive power.
Edson Ramalho Palace, seat of the Ceará's Economy Secretariat.

The first mayor was José Freire Bezerril Fontenelle. The mayor is assisted by seven Regional Executive Secretariats (SER). The legislature is made up of the City Council of Fortaleza, composed of 43 councilors, elected for four-year terms.[citation needed]


Commercial Association of Ceará.
Shopping mall in Fortaleza

In 2012, the GDP of Fortaleza was R$43.4 billion.[citation needed]

Downtown Fortaleza, or Centro, is where most commercial activities happen. Monsenhor Tabosa Avenue, near Iracema Beach and Aldeota neighborhood are significant commercial districts as well. Fortaleza has two of the ten biggest malls in the country, Shopping Iguatemi and RioMar Shopping, the seventh and the eighth largest, respectively. Fortaleza is home to several other malls, the most significant being RioMar Norte, Shopping Del Paseo, North Shopping Jóquei, Parangaba Shopping, Via Sul, Varanda Mall and Jardins Open Mall.[33]

The manufacturing industry produces footwear, textiles, leather-derived items, and processed food and beverages. Presently, Fortaleza offers a wide variety of event spaces, allowing different kinds of events to be promoted, ranging from small business meetings to national and international conventions and fairs that receive thousands of people. The biggest and best-equipped event venue available in the Northeast of Brazil is the Event Center of Ceará (CEC) in Fortaleza, opened in 2012. Additionally, many hotels, business centres and other venues also offer adequate spaces for different types of gatherings. Now-defunct TAF Airlines used to have its headquarters in Fortaleza.[34]

Ponte dos Ingleses

The GDP for the city was R$42,010,111,000 (2011).[35] The per capita income for the city was R$16,962.89 (2011).[36]


José de Alencar Theater in Fortaleza

Since the end of the 19th century, the city has been home to various cultural institutions. The Instituto do Ceará (Ceará Institute) was established in 1887, and conducts research in history, geography and anthropology. The Academia Cearense de Letras (Ceará Academy of Letters) was the first institution of the sort in the country, established on August 15, 1894. In 1892, Fortaleza was the site of a cultural movement of literary expression called "Spiritual Bakery". There are many other cultural centres, including the Banco do Nordeste Cultural Centre and the Dragão do Mar Center of Art and Culture. The folklore of Fortaleza is rich and diverse, and has roots in a mixture of beliefs originating from white colonisers and native groups. Minor, but also considered important, are Syrian-Lebanese and African traditions.[citation needed]

João Felipe Railway Station in Fortaleza


Straw sheds at Praia do Futuro Beach
Main article: Brazilian Carnival

Fortaleza Carnival season is not as famous as that in other northeastern cities like Salvador or Recife, as the local population prefer to spend the holiday at others beach cities of Ceará. Through the streets of Fortaleza, the Carnival brings the samba together with festivities as a celebration of Fortaleza's past and diverse culture. It is particularly notable for its unique style of maracatu known as maracatu cearense.[37]


The Baião de dois a typical dish from Ceará.

Seafood is popular in Fortaleza cuisine, such as arraia moqueca, mackerel and snapper fish.[citation needed]


Fortaleza is a big tourist destination for the domestic Brazilian market. According to the Ministry of Tourism, the capital of Ceará is the second most desired destination in Brazil and the fourth that receives the most visitors. Fortaleza is the gateway to the Route of Emotions, a route that is composed of Delta do Parnaíba, Jericoacoara and Lençóis Maranhenses[citation needed]

Scuba diving is possible in the area of Pedra da Risca do Meio Marine State Park, a marine protected area located about 10 nautical miles from the shoreline of Fortaleza.[38]

Urban beaches[edit]

"Praia do Futuro" redirects here. For the Brazilian film, see Praia do Futuro (film).

Fortaleza has about 25 kilometres (16 mi) of urban beaches. From North to South, the urban beaches of Fortaleza are Iracema, Meireles, Mucuripe and Praia do Futuro. Each beach has its own peculiarities:[citation needed]

  • Iracema is the Bohemian beach, with bars and nightclubs;[39]
  • Mucuripe is the place where jangadas can be found. Still used by fishermen to go into high seas, jangadas can be seen along the way during the afternoon and evenings, and returning from the sea in the morning; part of the catch of the day is sold in an old style fish market.[40]


The Dragão do Mar Center of Art and Culture hosts events and programs for the dissemination and popularization of science and technology.
According to the 2016 university ranking, the Federal University of Ceará, whose headquarters are located in Fortaleza, is the 10th best university in Brazil, 1st in the North and Northeast regions of Brazil and the best university in Ceará.
The Cultural Houses of the Federal University of Ceará form the largest university extension program in language teaching in the country. In the image, one of them, the german cultural house.

In 2010, the level of the education factor of the Strengthening Human Development Index was medium, despite its great advance, which went from 0.367 to 0.695 between 1991 and 2010. According to data from the 2010 Human Development Atlas of Brazil, Fortaleza's adult education levels were divided as follows: 8.57% did not complete primary school or were illiterate, 62.43% had completed elementary education, 45.93% had completed high school and 13.73% had completed higher education; All indices above the Brazilian average. The average strength was 10.04 years expected from the study, more than the estimate from Ceará, 9.82. According to the same study, 4.14% of children aged 5 and 6 were not in school.

In 2010, according to data from the demographic census sample, of the total population, 783 911 inhabitants attended day care centers and / or schools. Of this total, 23 379 attended day-care centers, 73 219 were in pre-school education, 26 319 in the literacy class, 6 443 in youth and adult literacy, 362 029 in primary school, 125 275 in high school, 22 723 in Young adults and adults in primary education, 27 016 in the education of young people and adults in secondary education, 102,929 in undergraduate courses, 10,152 in higher education specialization, 3,104 in master's degrees and 1,324 in doctoral courses. A total of 200 457 inhabitants had never attended an educational institution. In 2012, the municipality had 1,132 schools offering primary education, of which 402 were public and 730 were private schools. Of the 308 institutions providing secondary education, 152 belonged to the public network and 156 were private schools. In 2012, the number of enrolled in elementary education was 342 920 and in high school, 111 887.

There are 54 higher education institutions in the city. The first of these was the Faculty of Law of Ceará, created in 1903. The universities present in the municipality are the Federal University of Ceará, the State University of Ceará, and the University of Fortaleza.[citation needed]

The Liceu do Ceará is the oldest college in the state and the third oldest in Brazil.[citation needed]


Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Fortaleza, first public hospital built in the city, on 1861.
Hospital São Mateus, private institution founded on 1993.

According to data from 2010, the infant mortality rate up to one year old was 15.8% in Fortaleza, against a Brazilian average of 16.7%.[citation needed]

In 2009, Fortaleza had a total of 35 general hospitals, of which 11 were public, 21 were private, two were philanthropic, and one was a trade union. Doctor José Frota Institute is the largest hospital administered by the Municipal Government, and the General Hospital of Fortaleza is the largest hospital administered by the State Government.[citation needed]


International Airport[edit]

The passenger terminal at Pinto Martins – Fortaleza International Airport is totally air-conditioned and has four levels. There are direct flights to Bogota, Buenos Aires, Cayena, Lisbon, Rome, Frankfurt, Miami and Cape Verde. All major destinations in Brazil are also connected to Fortaleza.


The system of traffic monitoring is known by the acronym CTAFOR,[41] which stands for "Controle de Tráfego em Área de Fortaleza" (Traffic Control of the Area of Fortaleza).


Fortaleza Subway on the South Line

MetroFor is the 43 kilometres (27 mi) rapid transit system for the city of Fortaleza.[42]

Bus stations[edit]

Engenheiro João Tomé Bus station is the Fortaleza Bus terminal official name. Was Contstructed in 1973. A daily average of over 8,000 passengers. 35 Bus companies and close to 200 bus lines. The bus station is centrally located within the city limits. Only 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from the city centre and 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Praia de Iracema Beach. Fortaleza bus station is accessible by at least 2 city bus lines: Av. Borges de Melo I and Av. Borges de Melo II. Fortaleza has multiple Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, lines throughout the city and has plans to extend this network of transportation ([43]


Mucuripe Port

Fortaleza Harbour is an artificial port located in the Mucuripe inlet. The quay is 1,054 metres (3,458 ft) long.[citation needed]

Bike lanes[edit]

Fortaleza officially has 116.4 kilometres (72.3 mi) of bike lanes.[44]


Castelão Arena

The most popular sport in Fortaleza, like the rest of Brazil, is football (soccer). The main games of the Ceará State Championship are played in Fortaleza. There are several association football clubs in the city. The most important ones are Ceará SC, Fortaleza EC and Ferroviário AC. It was one of the host cities of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2014 FIFA World Cup.[citation needed]

Notable people[edit]

Statue of Rachel de Queiroz in Fortaleza.
Mausoleum of Marshal Castelo Branco, former President and dictator of Brazil.
José de Alencar, prominent writer of the Brazilian Empire.

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Fortaleza is twinned with:

Country City
Venezuela Venezuela Coat of arms of Caracas.svg Caracas[45]
United States United States Seal of Miami Beach, Florida.png Miami Beach[46]
Portugal Portugal LSB.png Lisboa[47]
Italy Italy Montese-Stemma.png Montese[48]
Brazil Brazil Brasão de Natal.jpg Natal[49]
Cape Verde Cape Verde Cape Verde Praia[50]
United States United States Racineflag.gif Racine, Wisconsin[51]
Senegal Senegal Senegal Saint-Louis[52]

See also[edit]


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  4. ^ History of Fortaleza (English)
  5. ^ a b History of Fortaleza and Ceará at Fortaleza, Ceará site
  6. ^ The Fortress of Nossa Senhora da Assunção at Fortaleza, Ceará site
  7. ^ "Fortaleza". 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. FIFA. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  8. ^ History of Fortaleza (English)
  9. ^ "Fortaleza Bio - Fortaleza Career". Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
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  12. ^ "Fortaleza". Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
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  16. ^ a b "Temperatura Média Compensada (°C)" (in Portuguese). Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology. 1961–1990. Archived from the original on May 5, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b c "Umidade Relativa do Ar Média Compensada (%)". Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology. Archived from the original on May 5, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Número de Dias com Precipitação Mayor ou Igual a 1 mm (dias)". Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology. Archived from the original on May 5, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
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  26. ^ a b 2010 IGBE Census (Portuguese)
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  29. ^ Pena, Sérgio D. J.; Pietro, Giuliano Di; Fuchshuber-Moraes, Mateus; Genro, Julia Pasqualini; Hutz, Mara H.; Kehdy, Fernanda de Souza Gomes; Kohlrausch, Fabiana; Magno, Luiz Alexandre Viana; Montenegro, Raquel Carvalho; Moraes, Manoel Odorico; Moraes, Maria Elisabete Amaral de; Moraes, Milene Raiol de; Ojopi, Élida B.; Perini, Jamila A.; Racciopi, Clarice; Ribeiro-dos-Santos, Ândrea Kely Campos; Rios-Santos, Fabrício; Romano-Silva, Marco A.; Sortica, Vinicius A.; Suarez-Kurtz, Guilherme (February 16, 2011). "The Genomic Ancestry of Individuals from Different Geographical Regions of Brazil Is More Uniform Than Expected". PLOS ONE. 6 (2): e17063. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017063. PMC 3040205Freely accessible. PMID 21359226. Retrieved December 10, 2016 – via PLoS Journals. 
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  31. ^ Cite error: The named reference CatedralFOR was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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  51. ^ "Online Directory: Brazil, Americas". Sister Cities International. 2008. Archived from the original on April 16, 2008. Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  52. ^ "O 1º Intercâmbio Econômico e Cultural Afro-Brasileiro possibilita negócios entre Senegal e Ceará". APRECE. 2006. Retrieved July 14, 2008. 


See also: Bibliography of the history of Fortaleza

External links[edit]