Curitiba in Brazil is the capital city of the state of Parana. In 2005 it had approximately 1.76 million inhabitants. Its metropolitan area is composed of 26 municipalities with a population of more than 3.2 million.
It is widely believed that the name of the city is derived from “kurí tyba”, Tupi words for “much pine” because of the Brazilian Pines in the region before its foundation in 1693. The city’s founders, the Portuguese, named it Vila da Nossa Senhora da Luz dos Pinhais (Our Lady of the Light in the Pine Forest). It was later changed to its present name in 1721.
Roughly 400 km from Sao Paulo, this modern and well-planned city has a number of attractions to boot. It is the largest city in Brazil’s affluent South region, and many of its inhabitants descended from German, Russian, Ukranian, Polish, and Italian immigrants.
Curitiba is well-known to urban planners from different parts of the world for its groundbreaking public transit system. The city gives the world a good model regarding the integration of sustainable transport considerations into road infrastructure development, local community development, and business development.
Afonso Pena International Airport, the city’s main airport, is one of the most modern terminals in Brazil and is considered as the second most important airport in Southern Brazil. In addition, the city’s railway line is the first in Brazil. It goes from Curitiba all the way to Paranagua through the majestic mountains. The trip itself is truly breathtaking.
In the 70s and 80s, Curitiba lowered bus prices and improved transportation service as incentives to get its people out of their cars. The progressive strategy worked. Today it is much easier to get around the city than any other major city in the country. Curitiba has also implemented innovative approaches to such urban problems as poverty, pollution, and homelessness.
The city and the rest of the southern part of Brazil have a more European characteristic, and the people are also amazingly wonderful. Although Curitiba is not a coastal town, it is very close to gorgeous beach areas, such as Florianopolis and Porto Bello to the South and San Francisco towards east.
Curitiba may not be as sophisticated as Brasilia nor as sexy as Rio de Janeiro, but Curitibanos enjoy a quality of life that is unparalleled in other parts of Brazil. With the help of a buzzing local economy, this modern city is able to preserve green space and historic buildings.