With over 2 million residents, Fortaleza is a large city but it has a very fun, convivial attitude. It is also the capital of the Ceara state and is sometimes called Ceara by visitors. It has a strong industrial and commercial base as well as well as a lucrative shipping business. Throughout the year, it has great, tropical weather and its beaches attract locals and visitors alike. In fact, the city is designed to highlight the beach, with its buildings lining the coast line. However, within the city, there are some intriguing colonial buildings, as well as the Mercado Central which exhibits much of the local art. The city is a victim of urban sprawl with traffic and noise. Must-see areas are Praia de Meireles and Praia do Futuro which have hosts of up-scale restaurants, hip bars and luxury hotels where youth and jet setters party and dance till the early morning hours. It is actually rather infamous for its abundant nightlife.

Fortaleza is also a good exhibition of the mix of cultures in Brazil, from indigenous, Portuguese, African, Jewish, Dutch, and other European roots. Brazil provides an ideal setting in which to learn how social, political, and economic forces shape development.

Fortaleza is also famous for its native arts and crafts. For instance, the markets exhibit pottery, impressive lacework, embroidery and leather.