What you need to know about Belo Horizonte
Belo Horizonte is the sixth largest city in Brazil, the thirteenth largest city in South America and the eighteenth largest city in the Americas. The metropolis is anchor to the Belo Horizonte metropolitan area, ranked as the third most populous metropolitan area in Brazil and the seventeenth most populous in the Americas. Belo Horizonte is the capital of the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil’s second most populous state. It is the first planned modern city in Brazil. The region was first settled in the early 18th century, but the city as it is known today was planned and constructed in the 1890s, in order to replace Ouro Preto as the capital of Minas Gerais. The city features a mixture of contemporary and classical buildings, and is home to several modern Brazilian architectural icons, most notably the Pampulha Complex. In planning the city, Aarão Reis and Francisco Bicalho sought inspiration in the urban planning of Washington, D.C. The city has employed notable programs in urban revitalization and food security, for which it has been awarded international accolades. The city is built on several hills and is completely surrounded by mountains. There are several large parks in the immediate surroundings of Belo Horizonte. The Mangabeiras Park (Parque das Mangabeiras), located 6 km (4 mi) south-east from the city centre in the hills of Curral Ridge (Serra do Curral), has a very broad view of the city. It has an area of 2.35 km2 (580 acres), of which 0.9 km2 (220 acres) is covered by the native forest. The Jambeiro Woods (Mata do Jambeiro) nature reserve extends over 912 hectares (2,250 acres), with vegetation typical of the Atlantic forest. More than one hundred species of birds inhabit the reserve, as well as ten different species of mammals. Belo Horizonte was one of the host cities of the 1950 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Additionally, the city shared the host of the2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Area: 330.9 km²
Estimate Population: 2 528 850
- The currency used in Belo Horizonte is the Brazilian real.
Belo Horizonte is internationally known as the “capital of neighborhood bars.” Every year, the city hosts the Comida di Buteco festival (“Pub Foods”, in an approximate translation), in which a panel selects 41 bars to be visited, and then elects the one with the best appetizers using the theme ingredient of each year. Minas Gerais’ cuisine is famous for its traditional dishes, like pão de queijo, feijão tropeiro, tutu de feijão, pork ribs, chicken-and-okra (served with a rich, brown gravy and rice) and other usually heavy, comfort-like food. The city also abounds with pizza places, barbecue houses, fine restaurants of various nationalities and other options.
Belo Horizonte receives large numbers of visitors, as it is in the Brazilian main economic axis, exerting influence even on other states. Both multinational and Brazilian companies, like Google and Oi, maintain offices in the city. The service sector plays a very important role in the economy of Belo Horizonte, being responsible for 85% of the city’s gross domestic product (GDP), with the industry making up for most of the remaining 15%. Belo Horizonte has a developed industrial sector, being traditionally a hub of the Brazilian siderurgical and metallurgical industries, as the state of Minas Gerais has always been very rich in minerals, specifically iron ore. Belo Horizonte is the distribution and processing centre of a rich agricultural and mining region and the nucleus of a burgeoning industrial complex. Production is centred on steel, steel products, automobiles, and textiles. Gold, manganese, and gemstones mined in the surrounding region are processed in the city. The main industrial district of the city was set during the 1940s in Contagem, a part of greater Belo Horizonte. Multinational companies like FIAT (which opened its plant in Betim in 1974), Arcelor, and Toshiba have subsidiaries in the region, along with other textile like Group Rachelle Textil, Ematex and Cedro Textil, cosmetic, food, chemicals,pharmaceuticals, furnishing and refractory companies. Among the companies headquartered in the city we can list steel producer Açominas (held by Gerdau, one of the largest multinationals originated in Brazil); Usiminas; Belgo-Mineira (held by Arcelor); Acesita (partially held by Arcelor); mobile communication Vivo; and Telecom Italia Mobile, Dasein executive search, executive coaching company, as well as the NYSE-listed electrical company CEMIG. Leading steel product makers Sumitomo Metals of Japan and Vallourec of France have also plans to construct an integrated steel works on the outskirts of the city. There are also a large number of small enterprises in the technological sector with regional to nationwide success, particularly in the fields of computing and biotechonology. Because of both governmental and private funding in the diversification of its economy, the city has become an international reference in Information Technology and Biotechnology, and is also cited because of the advanced corporate and university research in Biodiesel fuel. The number of jobs in the Information sector has been growing at annual rates above 50%. The Belo Horizonte Metropolitan Area, composed of 33 cities under the capital’s direct influence, is home to 16% of the country’s biotechnology companies, with annual sales of over R$550 million. Projects in these fields are likely to expand because of integration between universities, the oil company Petrobras and the Brazilian Government. One of the largest events that ever took place in the city, the Inter-American Development Bank meeting, occurred in 2005 and attracted people from everywhere in the world. For a long time it was marked by the predominance of its industrial sector, but from the 1990s there has been a constant expansion of theservice sector economy, particularly in computer science, biotechnology, business tourism, fashion and the making of jewelry. The city is considered to be a strategic leader in the Brazilian economy. The move towards business tourism transformed the capital into a national hub for this segment of the tourist industry.
Belo Horizonte relies on a big and reliable taxi fleet – one of the best in Latin America. The service is also relatively inexpensive – a trip accross downtown costs around R$15 – ranking number 10 among the major Brazilian capitals The official color is white.
BH is well served by buses. The SC buses circulate through the downtown; others serve outlying neighborhoods.
The Metrô snakes through the city, from Eldorado northeast to Vilarinho, tangential to the north side of downtown. Lagoinha Station is near the rodoviária (bus station), Gameleira Station is near the ExpoMinas Convention Center and Minas Shopping Station is near the Mall of the same name and Ouro Minas Palace Hotel.
Belo Horizonte’s latitude at 19’55″South places it in the tropical zone. Yearly temperatures average between 9 and 35 °C (48 and 95 °F). The Köppen climate classification of the region is tropical savanna climate (Aw) and it borders on a humid subtropical climate (Cwa), (tropical on high altitudes, humid/warm summers and a dry/mild winters). Belo Horizonte is located about 300 kilometres (190 mi) from the sea. Even though inter-seasonal differences are not as pronounced as they are in temperate places, there is a contrast between spring and summer, and between fall and winter. The coldest month is generally July, with a lowest recorded temperature of 2 °C (36 °F). The hottest month is usually January, with a highest recorded temperature of 37.4 °C (99 °F). The 852-metre (2,795 ft) elevation of Belo Horizonte helps a little in cooling the city, suppressing high maximum air temperatures experienced in nearby cities at lower altitudes. Belo Horizonte’s climate is mild throughout the year. Temperatures vary between 11 and 31 °C (52 and 88 °F), the average being 22 °C (72 °F). Winter is dry and mostly sunny, and summer is rainy.