Curitiba history

Curitiba was founded in 1663 as a camp for gold miners, but grew slowly, until the 1850s when it was made the capital of the newly formed Paraná state. After 1870 the city grew even faster through immigration, largely from Northern Europe (particularly Germany, Poland, Holland, Ukraine and Northern Italy).

Immigration was driven by land offers made by the government, which was trying to populate the countryside. Each set of immigrants was given land grants, with the best agricultural land going to the earliest arrivals. The result was scattered communities that were, until recently, ethnically homogenous. Each community supported itself through its own mix of agriculture, crafts and light industry. More recently, many of these communities have been incorporated into the Curitiba metropolitan area.

Until 1980 the population grew quickly (about 5% per year) then growth slowed to about half that through the 1980s. Recently, however, the rate has begun to accelerate again. Nearly a quarter of the people living in Parana is in Curitiba – roughly 2.3 million in the metropolitan region and 1.4 million in the city itself.

In any city, rapid population growth is a primary source of urban problems, such as housing, sanitation, transportation and the environment. Curitiba has been one of the fastest growing cities in Brazil over the last 30 years. However, consistent planning and innovative problem solving have allowed the city to expand while maintaining a quality of life that is considered to be among the best in Brazil.

Curitiba is considered a model city for urban planning and a centre of excellence in public transportation. It has attracted the interest of both the international media and urban planners for other developing nations. The city prides itself on being the “ecological capital of Brazil” because of the amount of green space in the city. There is a continuing development campaign, creating new parks, renovating derelict historic buildings, upgrading sidewalks and roadways, which contribute to the quality of life and the sense of a growing, thriving city.

Suggested Reading

“Brazil”
True stories of life on the road, edited by Annette Haddad and Scott Doggett, Travellers Tales Inc, ISBN 1-885211-11-2;

“Brazilian Mosaic”
Portraits of a Diverse People and Culture, edited by G. Harvey Summ, Scholarly Resources Inc., ISBN:0-8420-2492-1

“A History of Brazil”
Edited by G. Bradford Burns, Columbia University Press, ISBN 0-231-07955-9