Sunday, April 19, 2009
Salvador da Bahia, history and present
Salvador (historic name, São Salvador da Baía de Todos os Santos, in English: "Holy Savior of All Saints' Bay") is a city on the northeast coast of Brazil and the capital of the Northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. Salvador is also known as Brazil's capital of happiness due to its easygoing population and countless popular outdoor parties, including its street carnival. The first colonial capital of Brazil, the city is one of the oldest in the country and in the New World; for a long time, it was also known as Bahia, and appears under that name (or as Salvador da Bahia, Salvador of Bahia so as to differentiate it from other Brazilian cities of the same name) on many maps and books from before the mid-20th century. Salvador is the third most populous Brazilian city, after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and it is the ninth most populous city in Latin America, after Mexico City, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Lima, Bogotá, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago of Chile and Caracas.
The city of Salvador is notable in Brazil for its cuisine, music and architecture, and its metropolitan area is the wealthiest in the northeastern region of the country. Over 80% of the population of metropolitan region of Salvador has some Black African ancestry. The African influence in many cultural aspects of the city makes it the center of Afro-Brazilian culture. The historical center of Salvador, frequently called the Pelourinho, is renowned for its Portuguese colonial architecture with historical monuments dating from the 17th through the 19th centuries and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.
Salvador is located on a small, roughly triangular peninsula that separates Todos os Santos Bay from the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The bay, which gets its name from having been discovered on All Saints' Day forms a natural harbor. Salvador is a major export port, lying at the heart of the Recôncavo Baiano, a rich agricultural and industrial region encompassing the northern portion of coastal Bahia. The local terrain is diverse ranging from flat to rolling to hills and low mountains.
A particularly notable feature is the escarpment that divides Salvador into the Cidade Alta ("Upper Town" - rest of the city) and the Cidade Baixa ("Lower Town" - northwest region of the city), the former some 85 m (275 ft) above the latter, with the city's cathedral and most administrative buildings standing on the higher ground. An elevator (the first installed in Brazil), known as Elevador Lacerda, has connected the two sections since 1873, having since undergone several upgrades.
The Deputado Luís Eduardo Magalhães International Airport connects Salvador with Brazilian cities and also operates international flights, and the city is home to the Federal University of Bahia.