Fortaleza is the state capital of Ceará, located in Northeastern Brazil. It belongs to the Metropolitan mesoregion of Fortaleza and microregion of Fortaleza. Distant 2285 km (1420 miles) from Brasilia, the federal capital, the city has developed on the banks of the creek Pajeú, and its toponymy is an allusion to Fort Schoonenborch, which gave rise to the city, built by the Dutch during their second stay in place between 1649 and 1654. The motto of Fortaleza, present in itscoat of arms is the Latin word Fortitudine, which in means “strength, value, courage."
It is located on the Atlantic coast, at an average altitude of sixteen meters, with 34 km of beaches. Fortaleza has 314,930 km² and 2,609,716 inhabitants estimated in 2016, and also the biggest population density among the country’s capital with 8,286.6/km². It is the largest city in Ceará in population and the fifth in Brazil. The metropolitan area of Fortaleza is the sixth most populous in Brazil and the first in the North and Northeast regions, with 4,019,213 inhabitants in 2016. It is the northeastern city with the largest area of regional influence and has the third largest urban network in Brazil in population, behind only São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Fortaleza in 2013 was the twelfth richest city in the country in GDP and second in the Northeast, with 49 billion reais (US$ 21 billion). It also has the third richest metropolitan area in the North and Northeast regions. It is an important industrial and commercial center of Brazil, the eighth nation’s largest municipal purchasing power. According to the Ministry of Tourism, the city reached the marks of second most desired destination of Brazil and fourth Brazilian city that receives more tourists. The BR-116, the most important highway of the country, starts in Fortaleza. The municipality is part of the Common Market of Mercosur Cities, and also the Brazilian capital which is closest to Europe, 5608 km (3484 miles) from Lisbon, Portugal.
To the north of the city lies the Atlantic Ocean; to the south are the municipalities of Pacatuba, Eusébio, Maracanaú and Itaitinga; to the east is the municipality of Aquiraz and the Atlantic Ocean; and to the west is the municipality of Caucaia. Residents of the city are known as Fortalezenses. Fortaleza is one of the three leading cities in the Northeast region together with Recife and Salvador.