From the subtropical climate to the cultural habits, Porto Alegre is fairly different from the other state capitals in Brazil. Founded in 1742 by immigrants from the Portuguese archipelago of Azores, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul was the destination of thousands of immigrants from Portugal and Italy – like many other cities in Brazil but also from other European countries, particularly Germany and Poland.
Besides that, as the state is located far down the south of Brazil, the gaúchos, as people from Rio Grande do Sul are called, share several cultural traits with their neighbours from Argentina and Uruguay, from the folklore music to the habit of drinking the mate infusion, or chimarrão.
Porto Alegre lies on the eastern bank of the Guaíba River, right at the convergence point of five other rivers, which together form the enormous Lagoa dos Patos (Ducks Lagoon). Its 497 square kilometres are covered with more than one million trees, making it one of the greenest cities in Brazil, despite being the nucleus of the fourth-most populous metropolitan area in the country, with roughly four million inhabitants. There are over 1.4 million people living within the boundaries of Porto Alegre.
Temperatures are a lot milder in Porto Alegre than they are in most of the Brazilian capitals, with an annual temperature average of 19.5ºC and cold winters that have historical records of snow and subzero temperatures. The four seasons are very defined, though, and during the summer, temperatures may go well beyond 35ºC. The capital of Rio Grande do Sul is also famous for featuring one of the highest human development index figures in the whole country.
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