Belo Horizonte (a Portuguese name meaning "beautiful horizon", pronounced 'bɛ.ləʊ - əʊ.ɹiː.'zɒn.teɪ) is the third largest metropolitan area and fifth largest city in Brazil (after São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Fortaleza). It is the capital of Minas Gerais state, located in the southeastern region of the country. With a population of almost 2.4 million and over 5 million in the official metropolitan area, Belo Horizonte — or "Beagá" as it is more familiarly known from the sound of its initials BH in Portuguese — is a place of intense economical and cultural activity. It has a good infrastructure for national and international events.
The first settlements in the region occurred in the early 1700s, but the city as it is known today was planned and constructed in the 1890s, in order to replace Ouro Preto as the capital of Minas Gerais. It is nowadays notorious for the contrast between contemporary and classical buildings, being in fact the location of many modern Brazilian architectural icons, most notably the Pampulha Church.
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