Belém is the capital of the Brazilian state of Pará. It is also the state’s largest city and one of the most populous in the country. This is an important destination, as it acts as the gateway to the majestic Amazon River, which remains one of the world’s greatest tourist attractions.

As such, it is well equipped to handle the influx of tourists as well as the large local population.

Belém was founded by the Portuguese in 1616, and was named Feliz Lusitânia. It was later named Nossa Senhora de Belém do Grão Pará (Our Lady of Bethlehem of the Great Para) and Santa Maria de Belém (Saint Mary of Bethlehem).

Belem, Brazil, the home of the largest outdoor market in South America.

It was proclaimed a formal city in 1655 and capital of the state in 1772. During the 17th century, the sugar industry was integral to this city’s economy. From the end of this century, cattle farming became more important, after which rice, cotton and coffee were the most lucrative crops. When the Amazon River, Tocantins River and Tapajós River were made open to navigation in the mid-19th century, a greater area was made available to the Belém industries and a host of new opportunities opened up.

Today, the most important exports coming out of Belém are aluminium, iron, nuts, wood veneers, hardwood, pineapples and cassava, amongst others.

The city of Belém is modern, but retains much of its historical charm and beauty. Many of the main streets are lined with trees, while the city centre is bustling with tall buildings and the hubbub of a thriving metropolis. In the heart of this hub, mango trees are found in abundance, lending Belém a very special look and feel.

The climate of Belém is typically tropical, with rain, heat and humidity all year around. There are certain months that are wetter than others (namely December to May), but there is no dry season.

Daily high temperatures average around 26 degrees Celsius (or about 79 degrees Fahrenheit) all year around. This climate creates the ideal environment for tropical rainforest vegetation to abound, giving the city a really beautiful aesthetic aspect.

Interestingly, Belém has a huge Indian cuisine culture. This is a favourite amongst locals as well as international tourists.

Belém’s international airport (Val de Cães) serves around three million passengers every year. Many of the passengers are international tourists that are coming to this exquisite destination to see the wonders of the Amazon River and the jungle that surrounds it.

Popular tourist attractions here include:

• The Amazon Biopark Zoo – surrounded by jungles and rivers, the fauna and flora in this natural area are a true wonder.
• The Rodrigues Alves Wood–Botanic Garden – a taste of the jungle in the centre of town.
• The Ver-o-Peso Market – for a variety of medicinal herbs, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and much more, a day at the market is essential.
• Clubs and restaurants abound here, and are popular amongst young and old alike.
• The Goeldi Museum
• Cidade Velha is an old part of the city that boasts beautiful French architecture.
• The Mangal das Garcas Park
• Forte do Presepio
• Algodoal Island
• Catedral da Se
• Emilio Goeldi Museum

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