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Jan 25 - São Paulo founded by missionaries

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

Today in 1554 a small group of Jesuit missionaries, built a mission on top of a steep hill on the Piratiningha plains . As part of the mission they founded the Colégio de São Paulo de Piratininga. Now, with a population of over 21 million, it is the fourth biggest city in the world after Tokyo, Delhi and Shanghai and a cosmopolitan, melting pot city. This is the story of the rise of Brasils biggest city and its origins.


A group of Jesuit missionaries built a mission on top of a steep hill on the Piratiningha plains . As part of the mission they founded the Colégio de São Paulo de Piratininga on January 25, 1554. Around the mission, grew up the Portuguese village of São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga which is now the most populous city in Brazil, With a population of over 21 million it is the fourth biggest city in the world after Tokyo, Dehli and Shanghai with the largest GDP in the Southern Hemisphere. Sao Paolo is classified as an Alpha Global city, making it a primary node in the global economic network. A cosmopolitan, melting pot city, it is home to the largest Arab, Italian, Japanese, and Portuguese diasporas, and also the largest Jewish population in Brazil, with about 75,000 Jews.

Before the arrival of the missionaries the Piratininga plains, were inhabited by the Tupi people, such as the Guarani tribe. The region was divided into chiefdoms at the time of encounter with the Europeans. The Jesuits were lead by a Portugese priest Manuel da Nóbrega and Spanish priest José de Anchieta. Their letters back to Rome provide invaluable historical records of the birth and growth of such an important city. The original college Sao Paolo, was founded today on the feast day of the celebration of the conversion of the Apostle Paul of Tarsus. For the next two centuries, São Paulo developed as a poor and isolated, the only village in Brazil's interior, and travel was too difficult for many to reach the area because of frequent raids along it by the natice people. The Jesuits were expelled from São Paulo in 1640 because of their opposition to the domestic slave trade. However in 1681, the Marquis de Cascais, moved the capital of the colony to the village of St. Paul and its fortunes changed. After Brazil became independent from Portugal in 1822, São Paulo was named as an Imperial City. A law school was founded at the Convent of São Francisco, and the influx of students and teachers gave a new impetus to the city's growth. The expansion of coffee production yielded good revenue. And then São Paulo was connected to the port of Santos by Railroad. São Paulo became the point of convergence of all railroads from the interior of the state.

Most of the people of São Paulo self-identify as Catholic – but there are dozens of different Protestant denominations which is growing in size and influence. With more than one hundred thousand Buddhists, and a considerable Muslim, Jewish, and Mormon presence and a growing interest in indigenous Afro-Brazilian religions the city is changing rapidly. But overpopulation offers significant challenges although Crime rates are less than half the national rate, they are still considerably higher than other global cities. The two major rivers crossing the city, are highly polluted and air quality is slowly increasing from a low base. Vehicle restrictions were introduced to reduce air pollution during wintertime and now is all year-round in the central area. There is an anti-billboard push to clean up the city, with some more than 15,000 billboards, signs and towering metal panels being dismantled by authorities.