With its 11 million inhabitants –20 million, if we include the suburbs– and a GDP of over 300 billion dollars, São Paulo is South America’s main industrial and financial hub. Some 6 million vehicles travel its gigantic network of highways, avenues, tunnels and viaducts. Away from the traffic, countless passengers are transported underground by different subway lines, while up in the air a swarm of helicopters wait to land on the rooftop of one skyscraper or another.
The city exudes an extraordinary intensity; it is thoroughly multicultural and absorbs any outside influence –customs, dress, food and even words– just as naturally as a rainforest assimilates new species. However, such ease should not give rise to confusion: far from passively adapting to fashion trends, São Paulo transforms them to its advantage, which perhaps explains the Latin motto that adorns its flag: non ducor, duco –“I am not led, I lead”.