Curitiba is the capital and largest city of the Brazilian state of Paraná. The city's population numbers approximately 1,760,500 people as of 2010, making it the eighth most populous city in the country, and the largest in Brazil's South Region. Its metropolitan area, called Curitiba Metropolitan Area (Regiao Metropolitana de Curitiba, in Portuguese), comprises 26 municipalities with a total population of over 3.2 million (IBGE estimate in 2010), making it the seventh most populous city in the country.
Curitiba is a cultural, political, and economic centre in the country and in Latin America. The city sits on a plateau at 932 metres (3,058 ft) above sea level. It is located 105 kilometres (65 mi) west of the sea port of Paranaguá and is served by the Afonso Pena International and Bacacheri airports. The city hosts the Federal University of Paraná, established in 1912.
In the 1700s Curitiba possessed a favorable location between cattle-breeding country and marketplaces, leading to a successful cattle trade and the city's first major expansion. Later, between 1850 and 1950, it grew due to logging and agricultural expansion in the Paraná State (first Araucaria logging, later mate and coffee cultivation and in the 1970s wheat, corn and soybean cultivation). In the 1850s waves of European immigrants arrived in Curitiba, mainly Germans, Italians, Poles and Ukrainians, contributing to the economic and cultural development of the city. Nowadays, only smaller numbers of foreign immigrants arrive, primarily from Middle Eastern and other Latin American countries.
The biggest city expansion occurred after the 1950s, with an innovative urban planning that changed the population size from some hundreds of thousands to more than a million people. Curitiba's current economy is based on industry and services and is the fourth largest economy in Brazil. The economy growth occurred in parallel to a substantial inward flow of Brazilians from other cities of