São Paulo (map) is the largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world and the most populous city in Brazil, the Americas, the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere.
In 2016, inhabitants of the city were native to over 200 different countries. São Paulo is a cosmopolitan, melting pot city, home to the largest Arab, Italian, Japanese, and Portuguese diasporas, with examples including ethnic neighborhoods of Mercado (map), Bixiga (map), and Liberdade (map) respectively. São Paulo is home to the largest Japanese population outside Japan.
São Paulo is the most visited city of Brazil, but mostly because of business and event tourism, with many of the visitors not taking much effort to explore the city. Those who do so may, however, discover one of the most complex and fascinating cities of the world, where even nearby areas may look and feel like a different city.
! Visitors should avoid walking in deserted areas at night, or at least avoid walking alone. Buses are reasonably safe, but waiting alone at a bus stop at night is not. The metro is always safe, but commuter trains that go to peripheral areas can be dangerous late at night. Avoid using expensive clothes and jewelry that make you stand out.
*Downtown (map) The birthplace and administrative center of the city, containing most of the city’s historical heritage and showcasing the overwhelming variety of the city’s architecture. It is certainly intimidatingly run-down at many places, but has an unmatched variety of cultural attractions.
The *Avenida Paulista (map), considered by many as the city’s main landmark, is between the Center, West, and South-Central regions. It is one of the city’s main business centres as well as one of the main cultural and entertainment areas.
Same-sex civil unions have been legal in the whole country since May 5, 2011, while same-sex marriage in São Paulo was legalized on December 18, 2012. Since 1997, the city has hosted the annual São Paulo Gay Pride Parade, considered the biggest pride parade in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records with over 5 million participants, and typically rivalling the New York City Pride March for the record.
São Paulo is known for its rapidly changing weather. Locals say that all four seasons can be experienced in one day, similar to Melbourne, Australia.