Saturday, December 30, 2006

A New "Brasilia" is Rising Deep in the Nation's Vast Interior

PALMAS, BRAZIL — This planned city boasts stately boulevards, universities, a gleaming airport and beaches — no small feat for a place deep in Brazil's interior. Never mind that only 208,000 people currently reside in a space designed to accommodate 3 million residents, giving Palmas the feel of an empty movie set. Above we see the Palacio Araguaia, the main government building in Palmas.

Seventeen years ago, Palmas was little more than a blueprint and scrubby pastureland. It has sprung from the red dust to become this nation's fastest-growing state capital. Although most of Brazil's 188 million residents still live within a few hundred miles of the Atlantic Ocean, the nation's vast interior is experiencing a surge of growth and investment.

The opening of Brazil's so-called cerrado, an immense expanse of tropical savanna in the center of the country, began in earnest in the 1950s with the construction of Brasilia, about 400 miles south of Palmas. The meticulously planned federal district was an effort to spur development in the interior and shift population growth away from the southeastern megalopolises of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. From pastureland the government has built Palmas into a shiny state capital with soaring buildings. Now, it just needs people to move in.

And here we see the beauty and the magic of Brasilia:

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