São Paulo is the most cosmopolitan state in South America: it is home to about 3 million immigrants from 70 different countries, an integral part of its population of 43 million spread throughout 645 municipalities. The state is an economic powerhouse, accounting for 32.2% of the Brazilian GDP, but is also incredibly relevant, diverse and rich in many other aspects. Here are a few of them:
In the city of São Paulo (the state capital), popular choices are the Avenida Paulista (the city’s most important road), which closes for cars on Sundays, Vila Madalena and Largo de São Bento. But there is a lot of fun to be had away at the city center. The Roda SP Programme, developed by the Secretariat of Tourism, lists several itinerary options, from the countryside to the beautiful beaches of the coast (which is more than 700 km long).
São Paulo has more than 700,000 hectares of “full protection” areas (the most restricted type of protected area in the country, which only allows for research and tourism to ensure conservation). The state also has 30% of its territory covered by Atlantic Forest.
Even with its high level of industriali-zation, São Paulo also has a remarkable arts and crafts tradition, the result of all the natural riches and the great diversity of peoples and cultures it shelters (but also, ironically, of the state’s industrialization itself). Urban craftsmanship transforms industrial waste into new, utilitarian and artistic objects. São Paulo actually has an ‘Artisan Day’, approved by law in 1991.
Visitors to the state have a vast selection of stores, delis and restaurants available. There are also the traditional open-air markets, operating since the mid-17th century. Horticultural products, fish and traditional cakes are all part of the local traditional menu.
São Paulo brings together cultural and entertainment trends from all over the country, a lot of which easily accessible on foot. Options include the São Paulo city center, the Avenida Paulista, the Liberdade (São Paulo’s “Japantown”, the largest congregation of the Japanese community in the city that is home to the largest Japanese colony in the world), the Oscar Freire street and its surroundings, as well as Vila Madalena and the night life of Rua Augusta and its surroundings.