São Paulo, Brazil, the largest city in South America and the capital of São Paulo state. It lies on a hilly plateau in southeastern Brazil, some 2,700 feet (820 m) above sea level and 220 miles (350 km) southwest of Rio de Janeiro. The climate is mild, with monthly temperatures averaging between 60° and 70° F. (16° and 21° C.).
Although the city lacks the scenic beauty of Rio de Janeiro, it is in many ways equally impressive. Downtown São Paulo, centering on the area known as the Triângulo (Triangle), consists of block after block of towering buildings, most of them constructed since 1950. Industrial districts surround the downtown; vast residential areas and suburbs lie farther out.
São Paulo ranks as the leading commercial and industrial center of South America. One of the principal industries is the making of motor vehicles. Other large industries are those producing textiles, chemicals, machinery, and a wide variety of consumer items such as clothing, appliances, and tires. With its location in one of Brazil's most productive agricultural regions, São Paulo has many firms that process coffee, cotton, sugar, and other crops.
Many of the roads and railways in southern Brazil converge at São Paulo. There is heavy traffic between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and between São Paulo and its port city, Santos, on the Atlantic. A railway and an expressway make the steep descent to the port, 35 miles (56 km) to the southeast. Two major airports serve São Paulo. The city has a subway system.
São Paulo's parks and squares are among its chief attractions. At one corner of the Triângulo is Patriarch Plaza, surrounded by banks, offices, and shops. Several blocks to the west beyond the broad, tree-lined Avenida Anhangabaú is the large Plaza of the Republic, in the heart of a major shopping district. South of the Triângulo is Avenida Paulista, lined with postmodern skyscrapers and the site of the São Paulo Art Museum, which has one of the continent's finest collections of western art. Further to the south lies Ibirapuéra Park. In the park are a planetarium, a sports stadium, and several museums; one, the Museum of Contemporary Art, is the site of the internationally important Bienal art competition.
The University of São Paulo, Mackenzie University, and Pontifical Catholic University are the principal institutions of higher learning. The Butantan Institute conducts research on snake venom and produces antidotes.