Brazil's capital---Brasilia---is the most modernistic city in the world. Built 18 years ago some 760?
Brazil's capital---Brasilia---is the most modernistic city in the world. Built 18 years ago some 760 miles (1,223 kilometres) inland from Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia has created new jobs, relieved the pressure on Rio, provided a showcase for Brazil's architectural genius and opened up the vast Brazilian inland.
But behind its large-than-life buildings, Brasilia, like most Brazilian cities, harbours enormous shanty towns which belie the space-age faced and point up the widely differing life-styles of the country's privileged and poor.
Brasilia's slum areas-known as "favalas"---are occupied by more than 150,000 construction workers and their families. The shanty towns have grown rapidly over the years around the houses built for Brasilia's original construction force.
There is almost no water supply, sewage, electricity, medical care or school teachers---in stark contract with Brasilia's main form of accommodation, the "super blocks" which house up to three thousand people each.
Some of the satellite towns are up to 15 miles (24 kilometres) from Brasilia and many of the construction workers make their way into the city by bus to jobs which pay as little as GBP 25 sterling (62 dollars U.S.) per month.
Brasilia cost some $500 million U.S. (GBP 200 million sterling) to build---much of the money going into the modernistic buildings designed by Oscar Niermeyer. The city boasts spacious government palaces, 157 square miles (406 square kilometres) of artificial lakes, broad avenues and plush residential quarters.
All major government departments are headquartered in the city and over the years there has been an accelerating drive to make Brasilia operate as the administrative capital.
But for all its advantages, no-one really wants to go there, and many of the burocrats and technicians who live in Brasilia commute regularly to the former capital--Rio de Janeiro, for its beaches and night-life. As the people of Rio put it: "brasilia is like Heaven. Everybody wants to go there---but not yet."