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Destination Details

Belém, Brazil

Belém is a surprisingly rewarding city, with streets and parks shaded by mango trees, and a number of fascinating monuments and museums. The sloping central park is quiet during the week and bustling on weekends, when locals come out en masse for free performances and tasty street food. Nightlife tends toward the bohemian intellectual sort: art-house theaters, small music venues, heady cafe-bars. From Belém you can take overnight trips to Algodoal and Ilha de Marajó, both appealing coastal destinations, and it’s a logical launchpad for journeys up the Rio Amazonas (Amazon River).

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). 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.

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