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Brasília (bräzēlˈyä), capital city and federal district of Brazil (2,264 sq mi/5,864 sq km; 2021 est. metro area pop. 4,728,000), an enclave in the southwest of Goiás state. Inaugurated in 1960, it is situated in the highlands of central Brazil, and its ultramodern public buildings (designed by Oscar Niemeyer Soares) dominate what had been sparsely settled countryside. The removal of the capital from Rio de Janeiro to the interior, to encourage the development of central Brazil, was advocated long before President Juscelino Kubitschek initiated the project in 1956. The city was laid out (1957) in the shape of an airplane by the Brazilian architect Lúcio Costa. Government services, small-scale industry, food services, and construction are economically important. Most of Brasília's people live in its suburbs, outside the monumental government core.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city; the capital of Brazil. It lies on the Brazilian plateau at an altitude of over 1,000 m, on the shore of an artificial water reservoir, built at the mouths of the rivers Riacho Fundo, Gama, Bananal, and Torto. Area, 15,000 hectares. Population, 390,000 (1968). Average winter temperature, 19° C; average summer temperature, 22° C. Annual precipitation about 1,300 mm. Railroad terminal; highway junction; airport.

Brasilia is merely an administrative center; it has no industry. It is the seat of the president and his office, the National Congress, the Supreme Court, and the ministries. Together with the territory adjacent to it, Brasilia has been made an independent federal district. According to the constitution, its administration, tax and financial system, and the procedure for the appointment of officials fall within the jurisdiction of the Brazilian Senate. The administrative head of the capital is the prefect, appointed by the president and subject to confirmation by the Senate. The prefecture of Brasilia consists of several secretariats (departments): the secretariats of the prefect, finances, internal affairs and security, education and cultural matters, health, transport, and public works. There is also a collegial organ—the municipal council, whose members are elected by the population. The federal district police is subordinate to the prefect.

The construction of the city was begun in 1957 in accordance with a special clause in the Brazilian Constitution of 1891 providing for the transfer of the capital from Rio de Janeiro to a point close to the geographical center of the country. The official ceremony for the transfer of the capital to Brasília took place on Apr. 21, 1960.

The creation of Brasilia was a bold urban experiment: the novelty and originality of the planning and building of the town and the accurate organization of the transportation routes are combined with a somewhat contrived effect in the general architectural concept. The general plan, adopted in 1957, was prepared by the architect L. Costa. The plan of the town resembles the outline of an airplane. The “wings,” with a spread of over 12 km, are the residential areas. They are divided into blocks of apartment buildings and private houses, and each group of four blocks forms a microdistrict with shops, a school, and a church. In the “fuselage,” on squares descending from the railroad station to the lake, are government and public buildings—the presidential palace, the National Congress building, the cathedral, and others—executed by the architect O. Niemeyer and others. These are characterized by their architectural originality.


Fainberg, L. “Novaia stolitsa Brazilii.” Sovetskaia etnografiia, 1960, no. 4.
Khait, V., and O. Ianitskii. “Braziliia stroit novuiu stolitsu.” In the collection Sovetskaia arkhitektura, no. 13. Moscow, 1961.
Niemeyer, O. Moi opyt stroitel’ stva Brazilii. Moscow, 1963.
Stolitsy stran mira. Moscow, 1966.
Arnau, F. Brasilia. Stuttgart, 1961.
Stäubli, W. Brasilia. London, 1966.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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