São Paulo is considered the financial capital of Brazil, as it is the location for the headquarters of major corporations, of banks and financial institutions. São Paulo is Brazil’s highest GDP city and the 10th largest in the World.
São Paulo ‘s economy is going through a deep transformation. Once a city with a strong industrial character, the economy has followed the global trend of shifting to the tertiary sector of the economy, focusing on services.
The city is unique among Brazilian cities for its large number of foreign corporations. 63% of all the international companies with business in Brazil have their head offices in São Paulo.
São Paulo has the largest concentration of German businesses worldwide. São Paulo is now among the ten most expensive cities in the World ahead of London, Paris, Milan and New York City.
The Portuguese village of São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga was founded as a religious mission and theJesuit Colégio de São Paulo de Piratininga on January 25, 1554. The inhabitants of São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga, called Paulistanos, were very poor.
Some men started explorations, called Bandeiras, in search of precious metals and stones, runaway slaves, and to capture Amerindians to sell in the domestic slave trade. The men were known as the bandeirantes.
For the next two centuries, São Paulo developed as a poor and isolated village that survived largely through the cultivation of crops by the labor of natives. For a long time, São Paulo was the only village in Brazil’s interior, as travel was too difficult. In the 17th century, São Paulo was still one of the poorest regions of the Portuguese colony.
Because they were extremely poor, the Paulistas could not afford African slaves, as did other Portuguese colonists. The discovery of gold in the region of Minas Gerais, in the 1690s, brought attention and new settlers to São Paulo.
The town became a centre for the bandeirantes, intrepid explorers who marched into unknown lands in search for gold, diamonds, precious stones, and Indians to enslave. Around the 1720’s, gold was found by the pioneers in the regions near what are now Cuiabá and Goiania.
When the gold ran out in the late 18th century, São Paulo shifted to growing sugar cane. After Brazil became independent from Portugal in 1822, as declared by Emperor Pedro I where the Monument of Ipiranga is located, he named São Paulo as an Imperial City.
The expansion of coffee production was a major factor in the growth of São Paulo, as it became the region’s chief export crop and yielded good revenue. São Paulo became the point of convergence of all railroads from the interior of the state.
Coffee was the economic engine for major economic and population growth in the State of São Paulo. In 1888, the Golden Law was sanctioned by Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil, declaring abolished the slavery institution in Brazil.
As a consequence of this law, and following governmental stimulus towards the increase of immigration, the province began to receive a large number of immigrants, largely Italians, Japanese and Portuguese peasants, many of whom settled in the capital.
São Paulo is considered the most multicultural city in Brazil. Since 1870 to 2010, approximately 2.3 million immigrants arrived in the state, from all parts of the World.
The Italian community is one of the strongest, with a presence throughout the city. Of the 9 million inhabitants of São Paulo, 50% have full or partial Italian ancestry. São Paulo has more descendants of Italians than any other Italian city.