Brasília, the capital of Brazil, is a planned city.
Inaugurated in 1960 in the Central Highlands of Brazil, it is a masterpiece of modernist architecture listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and attracts architecture aficionados worldwide. Brasilia is also an important transportation hub for travel within Brazil.
The basic structure of Brasilia was completed in just four years, from 1956 to 1960, under the leadership of President Juscelino Kubitschek, with the slogan "fifty years of progress in five", and the city is in a sense a memorial to him. The cathedral as six columns reprsenting two hands reaching up to almighty heaven.
The city plan is designed in the shape of a giant bird or airplane, with various separated zones assigned for specific functions such as housing, commerce, hospitals and banking. Running down the center of the "airplane's" fuselage is the thoroughfare called the Eixo Monumental ("Monumental Axis") and at one end lay the government buildings. The arched "wings" are residential zones, with several rows of medium-rise apartment blocks with small commercial districts. The intersection is the commercial and cultural hub, with stores, hotels, and the cathedral. A huge artificial lake serves the city as both a leisure area and to diminish the effects of low humidity in drier months (see Climate below).
After 48 years from its creation (1960), Brasilia is still developing a culture of its own. The city has often been criticized as a failed utopia where rationalized modernist planning has buried the human element. Yet Brazilians are quite proud of their capital, embodying a vision of a future when Brazil is no longer considered merely a "developing" country.
The original planned area (called Plano Piloto) is home to about 400,000 inhabitants, most of the city's upper classes. The so-called satellite cities (15 to 40 kilometres away concentrate the remaining of the 2.2 million inhabitants of this great city of Brasília (Distrito Federal).