Fortaleza (Fortress) is the state capital of Ceará, located in Northeastern Brazil. With a population close to 2.3 million (metropolitan region over 3.4 million), Fortaleza is the 5th largest city in Brazil. It has an area of and the highest demographic density in the country (8,001 per km²). To the north of the city lies the Atlantic Ocean; to the south are the municipalities of Pacatuba, Eusébio, Maracanaú and Itaitinga; to the east is the municipality of Aquiraz and the Atlantic Ocean; and to the west is the municipality of Caucaia. Residents of the city are known as Fortalezenses. The current mayor is Roberto Cláudio, a doctor graduated at the Federal University of Ceará. Fortaleza is one of the three leading cities in the Northeast region together with Recife and Salvador. The city will be one of the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, for which Brazil is the host nation.
Fortaleza's history began on February 2, 1500, when Spaniard Vicente Pinzón landed in Mucuripe's cove and named the new land Santa Maria de la Consolación. Because of the Treaty of Tordesillas, the discovery was never officially sanctioned. Colonisation began in 1603, when the Portuguese Pero Coelho de Souza constructed the Fort of São Tiago and founded the settlement of Nova Lisboa (New Lisbon). Later, the Dutch occupied the Brazilian Northeast and founded the Fort Schoonenborch. When they were expelled from Ceará, the Portuguese renamed it to Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora da Assunção. In 1726, the town of the fort was raised to the condition of village. In 1799, the Province of Ceará was separated from the Province of Pernambuco and Fortaleza was chosen as its capital.
During the 19th century, Fortaleza was consolidated as an urban centre in Ceará, supported by the sprouting of cotton growing. With the increase of direct navigational communications with Europe, the Customs of Fortaleza was created in 1812. In 1824, the city was targeted by the revolutionaries of Confederation of the Equator. Between the years of 1846 and 1877, the city went through a period of enrichment, economic and infrastructural improvement. This included the export of cotton and the development of diverse workmanships, such as the creation of the 2 secondary schools, the Ceará and Mucuripe Lighthouse in 1845, Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Fortaleza in 1861, Prainha Seminary in 1864, Public Library in 1867 and the Public transportat network in 1870, which began with the construction of Railroad of Baturité.
In the twentieth century, Fortaleza underwent significant urban changes, with improvements and the rural exodus to the city, with growth mostly happening towards the end of the decade of 1910, which helped promote the city to the title of seventh best city in population in Brazil. In 1922, Fortaleza reached its first hundred thousand inhabitants with the annexation of the cities of Messejana and Parangaba, now important districts of the city.
In 1954, the first university in the city was created, the UFC. Between 1950 and 1960, the city achieved an economic expansion in excess of 100% and outlying neighborhoods began to grow.
During the years of 1964–1985 several changes took place in Fortaleza which made the city a central region for industries. Governor Virgílio Távora (1963–1966) initiated the implantation of Industrial District of Fortaleza (DIF I). One decade later, the city already had about a million inhabitants, Metropolitan areas were created Brazil (1973), making the city one of them. In 1983 DIF I started to integrate the territory of the new city of Maracanaú, which, just some years ago, was made again part of the Greater Fortaleza (the city's Metropolitan area). In the 1980s, Fortaleza exceeded Recife in population terms, becoming the second most populous city in Northeastern Brazil, with 1,308,919 inhabitants.
During the political opening after the military regime, the people elected the city's first woman mayor, Maria Luíza Fontenele, and had the first city hall commanded by a left-wing party. At the end of the century, the administration of the city hall and the city underwent diverse structural changes with the opening of several avenues, hospitals, cultural spaces and it became one of the main tourist destinations in the Northeast and in Brazil.