Fortaleza

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Fortaleza 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 313 square kilometres (121 sq mi) 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 Luizianne Lins a former academic at the local Federal University of Ceará and well known feminist. 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.

he warm climate, warm ocean waters and the sandy beaches attract tourists. In recent years, many of the old hotels have been replaced by European-owned international resorts. Nightlife is full of festivities with bars, restaurants and shows as the primary attraction. The city is known for having the "wildest Monday nights in the world". Some of the best bars and clubs are found near Dragão do Mar Center of Art and Culture. The Praia de Iracema (Iracema's beach), the first urban nuclei of the city and former touristic attraction, is currently known as a prostitution hotspot of the city. It includes the Ponte dos Ingleses (Bridge of the Englishmen) which is an ideal location for watching the sunset and spotting dolphins.

Fortaleza's urban beaches have warm waters. The scenery is complemented by the jangadas (small rafts used by many of Ceará's fishermen) for catching seafood for the Ceará cuisine. The Praia do Futuro (Beach of the Future) is a popular location with many beachside restaurants, built in the local style using carnauba straw and called "Barracas de Praia" (Beach Huts).

Scuba diving is possible in the area of Pedra da Risca do Meio State Marine Park, a marine protected area located about 10 nautical miles from the shoreline of Fortaleza.

Fortaleza has about 25 kilometres (16 mi) of urban beaches. From North to South, the urban beaches of Fortaleza are Iracema, Meireles, Mucuripe and Praia do Futuro. Each beach has its own peculiarities:
Iracema is the bohemian beach, with bars and nightclubs;
Meireles is where locals and tourists go to stroll, and is also the area with the highest number of hotels in Fortaleza;

Mucuripe is the place of jangadas. Still used by fishermen to go into high seas, jangadas can be seen along the way during the afternoon and evenings, and returning from the sea in the morning; part of the catch of the day is sold in an old style fish market. Also, the boat trips leave from this area;

Praia do Futuro is about 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) long, and is the preferred one for bathing and surfing. Praia do Futuro was made famous by its barracas (rustic restaurants built on the beach sand)
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