São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, with a municipality population of 12.1 million, and about 21.3 million in its metropolitan region - the second most populous of the Southern Hemisphere. It is the capital of the Southeastern state of São Paulo, and also a beehive of activity that offers a jovial nightlife and an intense cultural experience. São Paulo is South America's major economic center and possesses the 10th largest GDP in the world, though poverty, especially in the suburbs, is still widespread due to the blatant social inequality. Historically attractive to immigrants and to Brazilians from other states, it has a unique cultural identity formed by combining Portuguese and African roots (common to the entire country) with other influences, in particular Italian, Arab and Japanese.
São Paulo, or Sampa as it is also often called, is also probably one of the most underrated cities tourism-wise, often overshadowed by other places in the Brazilian sun & beach circuit such as Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. It is in fact a great city to explore, with an impressive (and almost intimidating) skyline, unpredictable neighbourhoods and architecture, a vibrant culture and arts (in particular street art) scene, not to mention the world-class restaurants and diverse regional and international cuisine available to all tastes. If there is a major attraction to this city, it is the excellent quality of its restaurants and the variety of cultural activities on display.
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