Brasilia is the capital of Brazil, the Federal District seat of government and a [UNESCO World Heritage site.] (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/445/) The three branches of government – the President, Supreme Court, and Congress – are located in Brasilia. The natural landscape of Brasilia, its role in the country’s politics and its flourishing industries has made it the 4th most populous city in the country for native residents, immigrants, and refugees.
City Size and Population Density
Brasilia covers an area of 5,802 square kilometers (2,240 square miles) and boasts a population density of 480 individuals per square kilometer.
Brazil has a population of 4.235 million as of 2016. The last census for the city was completed in 2010, and at that time, it was found that almost half of the residents – 48.2% -- were Pardo, or multiracial. The census also found that 42.2% of residents were White, 7.7% were Black, 1.6% were Asian, and 0.2% were Ameridian.
Catholicism is the majority religion within the city, with over 56% of residents identifying as Catholic. Over 26% of residents are Protestant, 3.5% are Spiritists, while Jewish and Muslim residents account for less than 1% of the population. Almost 10% of residents have no religious affiliation.
Portuguese is the official language of Brasilia, and it is taught in schools. Spanish and English are also languages that are taught in the city’s schools. There are six international schools located in Brasilia, with a seventh planned for opening in August 2016. Two universities and private colleges provide higher education opportunities.
The majority of jobs are in the public administration, followed by the service industry. Important industries in Brazil include construction, food processing, publishing, and computer software. Brasilia has the highest GDP in the country, contributing 3.76% to Brazil’s total GDP.
Over the years, Brazil has seen rapid growth, exceeding original estimates for growth. In 1960, there were just 140,000 residents, and by the next census in 1970, 537,000 people were living in the city. This number further expanded to over 2 million in 2000. Migration from all over Brazil led to rapid growth, as more people came to the city for public and private sector job opportunities.
Independence movement leader Joaquim José da Silva Xavier originally proposed the idea of an interior capital within Brazil, an idea that was brought up again in 1822. This idea was added to the constitution of the country in 1891, but it was some time before plans began to be laid to make this a reality. After eight years of research and surveying, the site that is now Brasilia was selected in 1956.
About that time, heavy machinery was flown into the area to begin construction of city streets, building foundations, and a human-made lake. Thousands of miles of highways were also constructed during this time to connect Brasilia to other cities. In 1960, the government began its move from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia.
In 1964, the military overthrew the government, causing a delay in the development of Brasilia. However, the civilian government was restored in 1985, during which time changes were made to the city’s structure. Unfortunately, at the end of the 20th century, the results of building the city in such a short time began to show in the form of cracked buildings, pollution in the lake and problems with population control. In the 1990s, self-government led to the creation of administrations which addressed (and continue to address) such issues with the city.
Brasilia Population Growth
Brasilia was initially intended to be a city for government and staff. However, the construction period brought about migration from both in and out of Brazil from people coming to the area looking for jobs. The continued growth is expected to continue over the next few decades, with an estimated population of 4.5 million in 2020. By 2030, the population is supposed to be just under 5 million.