Latin America's Tokyo
The state of São Paulo is considered the "economic motor" of Brazil, generating 30 percent of the nation's GNP. Its capital city, also called São Paulo, is the largest city in Brazil and all of Latin America -- the greater metropolitan area has 22 million inhabitants. It is vast and diverse, with everything from botecos-unpretentious sidewalk bars for lazy conversation or piquant banter and a cool caipirinha, the national drink-to a plethora of museums and art galleries and restaurants from various traditions. In addition, music venues for all tastes, from chorinho, samba, and Música Popular Brasileira (also called "MPB") in the Vila Madalena to jazz in Higienópolis, hip-hop and rap in Butantã and various electronica clubs all over the city feature national and international stars as well as local virtuosos. The literature scene is also in full bloom, with the opening of the new Museu da Língua Portuguesa at the Estação da Luz next to the Pinocateca do Estado and its planetarium of poetry, where the words of the nation's greatest poems are projected like stars onto the domed ceiling while recordings of musicians and poets recite their interpretations. Free music in one of São Paulo's many parks is also a favored weekend attraction. The efficient bus and subway system is useful for reaching the major neighborhoods of interest for visitors: downtown, Avenida Paulista, Jardins, Vila Madalena, and the thriving Japanese neighborhood of Liberdade.