Around 50 years ago Brasília became the capital of Brazil. The distances between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro - where the biggest part of the population live - from Brasília are big enough to have silently influenced the destine of the country in my opinion.

It's still difficult to protest in Brazil. Most people can't go to the capital with ease. For a lot of people even the capital of their own states lies hundreds of kilometers away.

Not only that: having the national political institutions isolated makes it difficult to know what's being decided there hence you can't even protest because you are not aware of the changes about to take place.
Another possible consequence of the moving was the weakening of political power of the aristocratic elite(in control since the beginning), which can explain the spread and increase of socialist ideals. Compared to the US I think the Brazilian elite doesn't have much political power anymore and I think the reason for this is Brasília.

Social media has given the population the possibility of uniting to show their discontent while protesting locally. But this is the case only now. I wonder how big was the impact of having taken the national political institutions away from the population and how it could be measured.

Any insight on this issue would be welcomed! I find this subject very interesting and would like to analyse it in the future with real data. Maybe I'll start by relating economic development to the distance of the population to the capital for each country.


1 Answer 1


Interesting question, but actually a very difficult one to analyse in a data-driven way since we don't have access to an alternative world in which Rio de Janeiro remained the capital of Brazil. It is also difficult because you are looking for data about what didn't happen - e.g. protests that probably would have arisen, but which never happened because the capital was too far away.

The best you can do is probably to collect individual historical accounts of people writing about how they felt they were empowered or disempowered by the isolation of Brasilia.

You might try looking at whether similar trends have been observed in Nigeria, Pakistan or other developing countries which have opted in the last century to build new capital cities deliberately placed away from existing population centres. Going back further into the past, you could look at the histories of Canberra and Washington D.C.

Perhaps when we have had a few more years of the internet, with its effect of abolishing distance, you could track the prevalence of relevant key words on the internet in order to study whether the frequency of complaints about the political elite "living in a Brasilia bubble" decreases - although the myriad other factors that might change this are likely to confuse matters.

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