World Cup 2014
The Match Schedule for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil was announced in Zürich on 20 October 2011. The 64 matches will be played in 12 cities across the country of Brazil with Sao Paulo hosting the opening match on 12 June 2014 and Rio de Janeiro the venue for the Final of the 20th edition of the most prestigious football tournament in the World. The FIFA Executive Committee had confirmed in its meeting earlier the proposal by the Brazilian Organizing Committee.
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Which games where?
The official match schedule has not been released, however the following cities will all host matches. Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Salvador, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Cuiaba, Belo Horizonte, Recife, Natal, Fortaleza, Manaus.
Since the 18th century, during the days of the Inconfidência Mineira - an independence conspiracy against the domination of the Portuguese crown - the state of Minas Gerais gambled with the idea of instating a new capital to replace Ouro Preto. Once Brazil declared its independence (1822) and became a republic in 1889, the stage was set for a new capital to be chosen. Among several contestants, the small avillage of Curral del-Rei achieved the right to host the Cidade de Minas, officially inaugurated in 1897 and whose name was eventually changed in 1906 to Belo Horizonte (Portuguese for ‘beautiful horizon').
Engineer Aarão Reis, an admirer of Paris and Washington, D.C., was responsible for putting the urban planning for the new state capital together. What his project did not contemplate, though, was the fast-paced development through which Belo Horizonte would go after a period of stagnation in the first decades of the 20th century. Soon the city expanded beyond its original limits and new neighbourhoods had to be planned and developed - the most notorious of them the Pampulha, an area of wide avenues and many squares and parks designed in the 1940s by Brazil's premier architect Oscar Niemeyer.
Today Belo Horizonte - or Beagá, as the city is famously known, after the sound of initials BH in Portuguese - is the sixth-most populous city in Brazil with just over 2.4 million residents, while its metropolitan area comprising a total 34 cities ranks third in the country, behind São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
From the beauty of its green areas to the careful city-planning; from the wide array of cultural activities to the nature wonders of the Serra do Curral surrounding it, Belo Horizonte has several reasons for being constantly appointed as one of the Latin American metropolises that provides the best qualify of life.
The construction of this ultra-modern city, situated in the centre of Brazil, began in 1956. Since its official foundation on 21 April 1960, the city has served the purpose for which it was built: to replace Rio de Janeiro as the country's capital. As a result, the bulk of Brazil's federal administration and political power are centred here.
The move to take the capital away from the coast gradually began gathering momentum after Brazil gained independence in 1822. The switch was intended to symbolise the country's change from a colonial state to an independent nation, and this intention was legally documented in 1891 by an article in the Constitution. But it was not until 1953, under the presidency of Getulio Vargas, that the idea resurfaced. It fell to another president, Juscelino Kubitschek, to bring the project to fruition, with the start of construction in 1956 and the city's official founding four years later both coming during his time in office.
One of the city's striking features is its wide avenues, which surround both its public buildings and its two districts, one to the north and the other to the south. These are divided into so-called superblocks, each of which contain numerous buildings. The central part of the cross is the Praça dos Três Poderes (Three Powers' Square). Here can be found the country's seats of Executive and Legislative Power as well as the headquarters of the Supreme Federal Court.
Widely considered to be avant-garde city in architectural terms, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia and the Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge are without doubt the most iconic structures. Both were designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the man behind most of the landmark buildings in the new capital. Due to its architectural feats,
Brasilia is the only city in the world constructed in the 20th century to have been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
The capital of the state of Mato Grosso, Cuiabá is located in the exact geographic centre of South America, an equidistant 2,000 km from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Established in 1719 during the Brazilian Gold Rush, its centre still houses several historical buildings that have been declared national heritage sites in 1992.
For about 250 years, Cuiabá stood quietly as a small city in the Centre-western region of Brazil. The scenario changed promptly in the 20th century, when the federal government implanted an expansion plan towards the interior of the country, which resulted in roadways connecting Mato Grosso to the states of Goiás and São Paulo. In 30 years, the population increased dramatically from around 57,000 inhabitants in 1960 to 400,000 in 1990. The vast 3,538-square kilometre area of Cuiabá is currently the home of 544,737 people.
Cuiabá stands on a privileged location for tourists, as it confronts three of Brazil's most important and characteristic ecosystems: the savannahs of the Cerrado; the wetlands of the Pantanal; and the Amazon. With such a massive presence of nature, it is no wonder, then, that Cuiabá has been nicknamed ‘Green City'. The cuiabanos also neighbour one of Brazil's most startling landscapes, the mountain range of Chapada dos Guimarães, where archaeological sites and a 3,300-square kilometre National Park attract thousands of visitors every year.The Chapada dos Guimarães is one of the reasons why Cuiabá is considered the hottest state capital in Brazil, as the mountain range blocks the polar masses and helps driving temperatures to over 40º C during the summer.
The city of Curitiba is one of the finest examples of a bulky economic and industrial development carried out with responsibility and organisation. Since it was declared the capital of the state of Paraná in 1853, the city has gone through several major urban planning projects to avoid uncontrolled growth and thus has become an international role model in dealing with such sensitive issues as transportation and the environment.
Curitiba is now the most populous city in the southern region of Brazil, with 1.8 million inhabitants, and stands right at the centre of a metropolitan area whose economy ranks fourth in terms of contribution to the country's gross national product. With all that, Curitiba still maintains the structural conditions to offer a remarkable welfare and quality of life to its residents, thanks to its innumerable parks and a high-profile cultural schedule.The curitibanos owe a lot of their cultural richness to the massive immigration process through which the south of Brazil underwent during the 19th century, when it welcomed a huge contingent of Germans, Italians, Ukrainians and Polish. These traits are noticeable in such city landmarks as the Santa Felicidade neigh
Although it was officially founded as a village in 1726, and would only become the capital of Ceará in 1799, Fortaleza (Portuguese for ‘fortress') owes its name to the period between 1637 to 1654, when it was controlled by the Dutch, who built the Schoonenborch Fort.
Featuring 34 kilometres of wonderful beaches, Fortaleza has been one of the main tourist destinations in the north-east of Brazil for several years. It has also developed into an important economic centre and a densely populated metropolitan area: over 2.4 million people reside within its 313 square kilometres (120,8 sq mi).
Most of the tourist attractions in Fortaleza revolve around its beaches: the Praia do Futuro (Future Beach) popular for its several barracas - simple kiosk-restaurants built on the sand that serve fresh, typical seafood - while Iracema is the place for bars and nightclubs. There is also more bucolic Mucuripe Beach, from where fishermen venture into the sea with their jangadas (handmade wooden boats). The coastal Beira Mar avenue is also the place for a traditional daily craftsmen's fair and for some of the top spots to dance the forró, a typical rhythm from the north-east of Brazil.Over the decades, Fortaleza - has invested in infra-structure for tourism and in new features such as the Centro Dragão do Mar de Arte e Cultura (Sea Dragon Art and Culture Centre) and the Beach Park, Brazil's largest water park, with several cutting-edge speed-slides distributed along 35,000 square kilometres.
The very location of the city of Manaus is one of its most remarkable attractions: the confluence of the rivers Negro (Black) and Solimões (how the Amazon River is known in this part of Brazil). The dark-coloured waters of the former and the muddy waters of the latter flow side by side for over 18 kilometres without mixing, forming one of the Amazon's most majestic sights.
Since it was first inhabited in 1669, Manaus steadily evolved into the capital of the state of Amazonas and finally into the metropolis of the Amazon. Manaus is now the 12th most populous city in Brazil, with just over two million inhabitants, and became an economic powerhouse during the 20th century, after the construction of the Manaus Industrial Pole.
The equatorial climate of Manaus is another of its most interesting traits, with an annual temperature average of 28ºC, air humidity of over 80 per cent and two very defined seasons: the rainy one (December to May) and the so-called dry season, between June and November, when precipitation is not as intense and temperatures may reach as high as 40ºC.The combination of outstanding natural beauty, local traditions and a metropolis on the rise gives Manaus a unique atmosphere, thanks to such diverse features as the Teatro Amazonas - an impressive concert hall that houses the annual Amazonas Opera Festival - and the Boi-Manaus, which is a celebration of the city's anniversary, rocked by the sounds of the typical rhythm of the "boi-bumbá".
On 25 December 1597, back when Brazil was a colony of the Portuguese crown, a group of Portuguese officials reached the Potengi River with the duty of reclaiming the captaincy of Rio Grande do Norte, which was then dominated by French buccaneers. Twelve days later, on 6 January, Three Kings' Day for the Catholic Churc, the group started the construction of the fortress that would remain the most prominent landmark in the state of Rio Grande do Norte until today: the Three Kings' Fort.
Following Portugal's recovery of the territory, expedition leader Jerônimo de Albuquerque redefined the limits of that village by the Potengi river on 25 December 1599. There is uncertainty about on which of the two dates the name originated - that 25 December or the one two years earlier - but that was how it all started for Natal (Portuguese for ‘Christmas').
The capital of Rio Grande do Norte enjoyed moderate growth until the 20th century, when its innumerous striking beaches and sand dunes were finally surrounded by the proper infrastructure for tourists. The construction of the Via Costeira - a large coastal avenue - in the 1980s was a milestone for the development of Natal, which is now one of the preferred destinations for foreigners visiting Brazil. They come for such wonders as Ponta Negra, Genipabu, Redinha, Pipa, Pirangi and several other spectacular beaches within the city and right next to it.Natal is proudly known as Cidade do Sol (Sun City) thanks to its faultless tropical climate that provides an annual average of 28º C, and roughly 300 sunny days a year. Its location, as close to Europe as any other city in the Americas, has also boosted international tourism.
From the subtropical climate to the cultural habits, Porto Alegre is fairly different from the other state capitals in Brazil. Founded in 1742 by immigrants from the Portuguese archipelago of Azores, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul was the destination of thousands of immigrants from Portugal and Italy - like many other cities in Brazil but also from other European countries, particularly Germany and Poland.
Besides that, as the state is located far down the south of Brazil, the gaúchos, as people from Rio Grande do Sul are called, share several cultural traits with their neighbours from Argentina and Uruguay, from the folklore music to the habit of drinking the mate infusion, or chimarrão.
Temperatures are a lot milder in Porto Alegre than they are in most of the Brazilian capitals, with an annual temperature average of 19.5ºC and cold winters that have historical records of snow and subzero temperatures. The four seasons are very defined, though, and during the summer, temperatures may go well beyond 35ºC. The capital of Rio Grande do Sul is also famous for featuring one of the highest human hevelopment index figures in the whole country.
Recife is the capital of the state of Pernambuco, in the north-east of Brazil, and the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area - a conurbation of another 13 cities, including Olinda, with a population of 3.7 million. Because of its economical importance for the region, the city is often called ‘the capital of the North-east'.
The histories of Recife and Olinda run parallel to each other. For several years, Recife (Portuguese for ‘reef') existed essentially as the port that connected the village of Olinda to the Atlantic. The build-up of Recife was profoundly boosted by the presence of the Dutch in the north-east of Brazil. As the Dutch West India Company dominated the region, Maurice of Nassau disembarked in Recife in 1637 and ordered the construction of the bridges, canals and levees of the then-called Mauritsstad (Maurice City), which was the capital of the Dutch colonies in the Americas. Maurice of Nassau's term only lasted until 1644, but Recife inherited its architectural legacy that eventually led to the nickname ‘the Brazilian Venice'.
Some of the most impressive beaches around the state's capital are Boa Viagem, one of the most famous urban beaches of the region, and Porto de Galinhas, which stands among the top tourist destinations in the country, located some 70 kilometres away from Recife.
However, because of the Dutch presence and the several twists of fate over its history, besides the tropical climate and the spectacular beaches that are common to the north-eastern coast of Brazil, the region of Recife is also prolific on historical attributes, such as the Orange Fort and the very city of Olinda, which was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1982.There is no better time to check the traditions of Recife and Olinda closely than carnival, when the rhythms of frevo and maracatu completely take the cities over and rock street parades like the Galo da Madrugada (‘Dawn Rooster'), which brings two million people to the streets every year.
Rio de Janeiro
On 1 January 1502, the Portuguese explorer Gaspar de Lemos brought his ship into a bay on the Brazilian coast, which is now called Guanabara Bay. Mistakenly confusing the bay with the mouth of a river, he named it Rio de Janeiro - literally translated as the January River.
The city of Rio de Janeiro itself was founded on 1 March 1565 by Estacio de Sa, and was the seat of Brazilian politics from 1764 until 1960, when it was replaced by Brasilia. Nonetheless, Rio remains Brazil's most popular tourist destination and cultural hotspot, besides being the country's second most populous metropolis with just over 6 million residents.
As well as its incomparable natural beauty, Rio's rich history and the cariocas' contagious joie de vivre have all contributed to making the city known and loved across the globe. The highlights of the Rio calendar include the New Year's Eve celebrations and world-famous Carnival. This bustling metropolis, located between a tropical forest and a series of magnificent beaches, is an ideal base for exploring either, while the Cidade Maravilhosa has everything fans of modern urban life could wish for.Rio de Janeiro is without doubt a city packed with contrasts: its striking colonial architecture recalling a bygone era while its imposing modern buildings represent a bright future. Perhaps the two most iconic sights are the Sugarloaf Mountain and the statue of Christ the Redeemer, which sits atop the Corcovado Mountain, these images winging their way around the world on the front of millions of postcards.
When the Portuguese crown first decided to carry out the endeavour of colonising Brazil, the first urban area to be settled in was Salvador, which was established on 29 March 1549. This is one of the reasons why the coastal city in the country's north-east was one of the main poles of slave trade in South America. As a consequence, Salvador grew under deep influence of Portuguese, Afro-descendents and indigenous alike: a situation that contributed to the cultural richness that typifies the city today.
The presence of African elements is all around in Salvador, from the circles of capoeira (a combination of martial art and dance brought to Brazil by African slaves) at the Modelo Martket to the beat of the agogôs and atabaques (percussion instruments) in the rites of the Candomblé - a syncretic religion conceived in Brazil. Such African heritage has awarded Salvador with the nickname Roma Negra (Black Rome).
Salvador's privileged topography is one of its most appealing attributes, with a clear division between the Cidade Baixa and Cidade Alta (Low City and High City), both of which are connected to each other by one of the city's most important sights, the Elevador Lacerda. But the ultimate icon of the city is the Pelourinho, which is its historical centre: its churches and colourful colonial buildings have been a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.
Besides being a historical gem and the birthplace of several of Brazil's most significant artists, the capital of the state of Bahia has also grown and developed to become the economic centre in the north-east and the country's third-most populous city, with roughly three million residents.
The financial and business hub of Brazil, not only is São Paulo the biggest city in the country, it also ranks among the most populous in the world, with just over 11 million inhabitants within its area of 1,523 square kilometers (588 sq mi). Located in the south-eastern region of the country, it is nicknamed Terra da Garoa (Land of the Drizzle) after its renowned weather instability and plentiful rainfall.
São Paulo's work-oriented vocation attracted huge contingents of immigrants after the turn of the 19th century. As a consequence, the capital of the state of São Paulo is by far the most ethnically diverse city in Brazil, hosting an estimated 100 different ethnicities that have helped put up the country's major economy, responsible for 12,26 per cent of the country's gross domestic product.
Although it is an inevitable business destination, it is not all about work for the paulistanos: São Paulo is a high-profile cultural centre that displays a wide range of options, from various top-flight concerts and exhibitions to a colossal gastronomy scene of more than 12,000 restaurants. Sampa is also bursting with tourist attractions that go way beyond its staggering skyline, such as the Japanese district of Liberdade, the Ibirapuera Park, the several high-profile shopping malls and a charming city centre.
It is no wonder, then, that the metropolitan area of São Paulo is the home for the two busiest airports in South America: Congonhas and the international André Franco Montoro Airport - commonly known as Guarulhos Airport or Cumbica - which flies to 28 different countries.
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