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Fortaleza (fŏrtəlĕˈzə) [key], city (1996 pop. 1,967,365), capital of Ceará state, NE Brazil, a port on the Atlantic Ocean. The city, which is bisected by the Paejú River, is often called Ceará by foreigners. Fortaleza is a commercial and industrial city, a tourist center, and a processing and shipping center for the products of Brazil's interior (cotton, coffee, hides, carnauba wax, oiticica oil, rum, and fruits). Textiles and clothing are manufactured, and the city is known for its handicrafts, especially lace making and hammock weaving. Fortaleza [Port., = fortress] was founded in 1609 and became a center of the great sugar plantations of NE Brazil in colonial times. It was occupied by the Dutch from 1637 to 1654. The city grew after 1808, when the ports of NE Brazil were opened to international trade. Fortaleza has a state university.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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