Porto Alegre, the largest city in southern Brazil, is the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, land of the Gaúchos and churrasco.
Immigrants from the Azores founded the city, located on the Guaiba River, in 1742. Since the 19th century the city has received numerous immigrants from other parts of the world, particularly Germany, Poland, and Italy. Located at the junction of five rivers, it has become an important alluvial port as well as one of the chief industrial and commercial centres in Brazil.
With the advent of the Mercosul accord it should grow and prosper. Products of the rich agricultural and pastoral hinterland, such as soybeans, leather, canned beef, and rice, are exported from Porto Alegre to destinations as far away as Africa and Japan.
Blond children with blue eyes and a strong regional accent make you wonder: Am I really in Brazil? This the south. Since it was colonized mainly by German, Italian, and Polish immigrants, the facial features and cultural preferences of this region’s inhabitants create a markedly European atmosphere. Gramado and Canela, in Rio Grande do Sul, bear a striking resemblance to Bavaria, with their colonial cafés serving delicious German delicacies. The ruins of São Miguel, close to Santo Angelo, also in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, remind us of the 210 years of the Jesuit Missions presence in Brazil.
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