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Fortaleza, capital of the state of Ceará in Brazil. On the northern coast of the Brazilian bulge, the city in 2006 has a population of 2.4 million in the city proper and 3,415,455 in the metropolitan area. Ceará's principal commercial center, Fortaleza is a port of call for European and North American lines and for coastal steamers. The harbor, previously an open roadstead (less sheltered harbor), is now protected by a breakwater with port facilities at the Ponta de Mucuripe, 3.6 miles to the east. Chief exports include sugar, cotton, hides, carnauba wax, and other agricultural products of the region.

Originating in the early seventeenth century as a village adjoining a Portuguese fort, hence its name, the settlement was occupied by the Dutch in the mid- 1600s. Fortaleza became the capital of the captaincy of Ceará in 1810, receiving city status and designation as the provincial capital in 1823.

Fortaleza's population swelled during northeastern Brazil's periodic droughts as Sertanejos (inhabitants of the backlands) flocked to cities in search of work or relief. The capital was often ill equipped to meet such crises. During the drought of 1877–1879, the provincial administration in Fortaleza, overwhelmed by problems in the city, stopped sending aid to the interior.

Sertanejos sometimes manifested antagonism toward the government at Fortaleza. In 1914, followers of Padre Cícero Romão Batista, a priest in Joaseiro (now Juazeiro Do Norte) popular among the sertanejos, marched on Fortaleza. Governor Marcos Rabelo, striving to avert bloodshed, entrusted the state government to federal authorities.

See alsoBatista, Cícero Romão; Brazil, Geography; Messianic Movements: Brazil.


Ralph Della Cava, Miracle at Joaseiro (1970).

Additional Bibliography

Jucá, Gisafran Nazareno Mota. Verso e reverso do perfil urbano de Fortaleza, 1945–1960. Fortaleza: Governo do Estado do Ceará, Secretaria da Cultura e Desporto; São Paulo: Annablume, 2000.

Nunes, Márcia Vidal. Rádio e política: Do microfone ao palanque: Os radialistas políticos em Fortaleza, 1982–1996. São Paulo: Annablume, 2000.

Pessar, Patricia R. From Fanatics to Folk: Brazilian Millenarianism and Popular Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.

Silva Filho, Antonio Luiz Macêdo. Paisagens do consumo: Fortaleza no tempo da Segunda Grande Guerra. Fortaleza: Museu do Ceará, Secretaria da Cultura e Desporto do Ceará, 2002.

                                          Cara Shelly