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Juiz de Fora (Judge Outside) (also known by its initials, "J.F.") is a city in the southeastern Brazilianmarker state of Minas Geraismarker, located close to the state border with Rio de Janeiromarker. According to 2006 estimates the current population is about 509,125 inhabitants. The geographical area of the municipality is 1,437 km².

The city's location was determinant for its economic and demographic development, for it is placed between the three most important financial and economic metropolises of southeast Brazil (and also the three largest urban sprawls of the country): Rio de Janeiro (189 km), Belo Horizonte (260 km) and São Paulo (486 km). Major highways connect Juiz de Fora with these three metropolitan areas, the most important -and crucial for the city's recent growth- being the BR 040, which connects Brasíliamarker, Rio de Janeiromarker, and Belo Horizontemarker. Running throughout the city, the Paraibuna river is a major tributary of the Paraíba do Sulmarker river, in which basin lies the core of Brazilian heavy and high-technology industries.


Although lying close to tropical latitudes, the climate is relatively mild. The altitude of between 700 and 900 meters makes the weather usually cooler and rainier than the lower surrounding areas.The climate is classified as Tropical Altitude, with two distinct seasons, one hotter and rainier (October to April) and one cooler and drier (May to September). The average annual temperature is around 19 °C with a maximum of 24 °C and a minimum of 15 °C. It is very humid with average humidity of 80%. The annual rainfall varies between 1,300 mm and 1,500 mm.

Industry, Commerce, and Culture

Juiz de Fora is the second most important industrial center in the state of Minas Geraismarker, despite being the fourth largest in terms of population. It was once the state's largest city, position which was held up until the beginning of the 20th century (it held the second position until the 1990s). There are important steel mills and automotive factories (Mercedes-Benz being the most famous) in the city, along with several textile factories.

The city is also an important trade center, with considerable area of influence, being considered the capital of the Zona da Mata region of the state. It has three shopping malls, several hyper-marts and a myriad of small shops that sell clothes and attract customers from a wide area around the city.

The massive presence of immigrants - especially from Italymarker, Germanymarker, Syriamarker and Lebanonmarker - throughout its history has given the city a cosmopolitan spirit and diverse cuisine. Walking down Avenida Rio Branco, (a broad and straight avenue several kilometers long) one can find typical German, Italian, Arabic, Portuguese and Indian restaurants, as well as traditional Brazilian and vegetarian cuisine.

Juiz de Fora is an important regional cultural center, the only town in south-east Minas Gerais (one of the few outside the state's capital city metropolitan complex) to have permanently functional cinemas, theatres, music venues and light entertainment. There is a nationally important museum (Museu Mariano Procópio) and a Philharmonic Orchestra (Orquestra Filarmônica Pró-Musica). The city also hosts a yearly classical music festival, the Festival Internacional de Música Brasileira Colonial e Música Antiga (International Festival of Brazilian Colonial Music and Early Music). It is home to the "Meninos Cantores da Academia" the second oldest choir in this category in Brazil. Cultural life is also boosted by a Federal University and several private-owned colleges; making it a popular destination for students. Some of the courses at the Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora are reputedly among the best in Brazil.

The cultural life of Juiz de Fora is marked by great eclecticism, which can be seen in its architecture. Art Nouveau buildings dating from the first decade of the 20th century are intermingled with those in Art Déco style from the mid-20th century, as well as the architectural art works by Niemeyer.

Important roads:

Important railroads:
  • MRS-Logística.


Juiz de Fora in 1893.
Federal University of Juiz de Fora
The origins of Juiz de Fora trace back to the beginnings of the 18th century, when a road called "Caminho Novo" (New Way) was opened, linking Rio de Janeiromarker to the gold rush area of Minas Geraismarker. The region was covered with dense forest (thus its name since, "Zona da Mata", Forest Zone). Despite the opening of the new route, the area remained largely uninhabited, and most of its scarce settling was centered around the road itself. The first permanent inhabitants of the municipality were merchants and farmers who supplied the travelers's needs on the long road from the harbor to the gold region and vice-versa.

Further development would only take place after the decline of gold mining in the central zone of Minas Geraismarker. The capital previously invested in the mines was now invested in coffee plantations, and the region of Zona da Mata became a fertile ground to invest. The position of the village then called Santo Antônio do Paraibunamarker was favorable due to the road connection with the capital of the country and its harbour.

In 1850, the small village was officially elevated to city status. Progress increased with the building of the modern União e Indústria (Union and Industry) road in 1861 to replace the Caminho Novo, its name reflecting the newfound wealth of the city, for industry replaced coffee-related agriculture as its economic heart. Five years later a new railroad line reached the city and in 1889 the first hydroelectric powerplant of Latin America was built on the Paraibuna river, on the outskirts of the city, along União Indústria.

As both foreign and domestic capital fueled the industry boom, the city became a major center (it then became the largest urban area of the state). It was such so that in the first decade of the 20th century, Juiz de Fora was among the main textile and industrial centers in South America, and in Brazilmarker particularly, the city's wealth was second to few centers (such as São Paulomarker and Rio de Janeiromarker). As the coffee rush frontier moved southweswards, it reached the state of São Paulomarker and its immensely fertile plateaus. As the State became the richest in the federation, industry flourished, as had happened to Juiz de Fora itself. The city of Juiz de Fora saw itself, then, as the only major industrial center in a state that was beig much surpassed by São Paulomarker in industrial output and worse still, much of the wealth generated by the state (a large bulk by Juiz de Fora itself) was being used in the building of the new state capital, Belo Horizontemarker (replacing Ouro Pretomarker, at the center of the gold region), founded by the end of the 19th century and intended to be the largest of the state, following the brazilian and latin-american tradition of centralization. The Great Depression of the 30's worsened the city's decadence, which would only be overcome four decades later. By the 1940s, the city had lost its nation-wide influence, due to the continued growth of Belo Horizonte and the loss of industry.

The city's decadence can be seen in the figures for its population, which remained stagnant from the early 1930s to the late 1960s. By the mid-70's, the city started to experience new growth, which follows to this day. This new era began with the stabilizing of a federal university (UFJF) in the city and the decision by the Brazilian military junta, (1964-1985) to promote the city as a major military center. This sparked a phenomenon rarely experienced by post-industrial towns: the industrial rebirth of the city, this time following Brazilian industrialization itself, based on heavy-industry, such as steel and engineering.

Recently, the city seems to be experiencing a new time in its history, again following the new boom in Brazilian economy, and is reinventing itself as a major center for services (such as the telecommunication, with an important call center) and learning (following the federal university, private colleges have been stabilized in thee city).

Today Juiz de Fora is an important commercial center for the surrounding region and is the core of an unofficial metropolitan area of more than 1 million inhabitants.


The population, which was 238,510 in 1970 with 7.6% living in rural areas is estimated to be 513,619 in 2005 with less than 1 percent living in rural areas. At this growth rate the population is estimated to pass 570,000 by 2010.

The population of Juiz de Fora since the first census, in 1872:

1872 - 18,800

1890 - 22,600

1920 - 118,500

1940 - 118,400

1950 - 111,300

1960 - 125,000

1970 - 238,500

1980 - 305,800

1991 - 385,100

1996 - 424,000

2000 - 456,400

2002 - 471,693

2005 - 501,153

2006 - 509,109

2007 - 513,348

2008 - 520,612

Famous People From Juiz de Fora


Juiz de Fora is home of Tupi Football Club. Tupi is the 1932 runner-up champion of the Minas Gerais State Cup, and has won several city championships. Tupi won the 2001 Minas Gerais Module II First Division Championship, was 3rd place in Campeonato Mineiro 2008 and 2008 Taça Minas Gerais. It is widely regarded as one of the most important teams of the state, despite lacking national prestige.


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