Curitiba is a metropolitan area in Brazil
Inhabitants: 3,375,000 (World Rank 108)
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Curitiba (pron. IPA: [kuɾi'tibɐ] or IPA: [kuɾi'tʃibɐ]) is the capital city of the Brazilian state of Paraná. The city has the largest population and also the largest economy in Southern Brazil. The population of Curitiba numbers approximately 1.8 million people (7th largest nationwide) and the latest GDP figures for the city surpass US$17 billion (ranking 4th nationwide) according to IBGE .
Its metropolitan area comprises 26 municipalities with a total population of over 3.5 million (IBGE estimate in 2006). Curitiba is an important cultural, political and economic center in the country. The city is sits on a plateau at 932 m (3057 ft) above sea level. It is located at 105 km (65 mi) west of the sea port of Paranaguá and hosts the Afonso Pena International Airport.
One theory about the name "Curitiba" comes from the Tupi words kurí tyba, "many pine" due to the large number of Brazilian Pines (Araucaria angustifolia), in the region prior to its foundation. The Portuguese who founded a village in 1693 gave it the name of "Vila da Nossa Senhora da Luz dos Pinhais" (Our Lady of the Light in the Pine Forest). The name was changed to "Curitiba" in 1721. Curitiba officially became a town in 1812, spelling its name as Curityba. An alternative spelling also came up: Coritiba. This spelling looked to become dominant for it was used in press and state documents, but a state decree in 1919 settled the dispute by spelling the city name Curitiba.
Growth was based on the cattle trade, being half way between cattle breeding country to the South and markets to the North. Waves of European immigrants started arriving after 1850, mainly Germans, Italians, Poles and Ukrainians contributing to the economic and cultural development of the city.
Curitiba hosts the Universidade Federal do Paraná (Federal University of Paraná), the first in Brazil, was established in Curitiba in 1913, the same year in which electric streetcars were first deployed.