Fortaleza (Portuguese pronunciation: [foʁtaˈlezɐ], Fortress) is the state capital of Ceará, located in Northeastern Brazil. With a population close to 2.55 million (metropolitan region over 3.6 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 Roberto Cláudio, a doctor who graduated from 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.
Since the end of the 19th century, the city has been home to various cultural institutions. The Instituto do Ceará (Ceará Institute) was established in 1887, and conducts research in history, geography and anthropology. The Academia Cearense de Letras (Cearense Academy of Letters) was the first institution of the sort in the country, established on August 15, 1894. In 1892, Fortaleza was the site of a cultural movement of literary expression called “Spiritual Bakery”. There are many other cultural centres, including the Banco do Nordeste Cultural Centre and the Dragão do Mar Center of Art and Culture. The folklore of Fortaleza is rich and diverse, and has roots in a mixture of beliefs originating from white colonisers and native groups. Minor, but also considered important, are Syrian-Lebanese and African traditions.
Fortaleza Carnival season is not known as famous as that in other northeastern cities like Salvador or Recife. Through the streets of Fortaleza, the Carnival brings the samba together with festivities as a celebration of Fortaleza’s past and diverse culture. It is particularly notable for its unique style of maracatu known as maracatu cearense.
Throughout the streets of the city during the carnival season, tourists can see dancing and singing, accompanied by processions of brass bands. There are also displays and shows placed on open trucks as part of a parade travelling across the city. In areas like Avenida Beira-mar, the residents organize sessions of dancing in the streets.