Porto Alegre's hallmark is the hospitality of its people, a trait that has been acknowledged over and over by visitors, earning it the nickname "Smile City." The capital of one of Brazil's wealthiest states, it has many streets lined with jacaranda trees that create violet tunnels when in full spring bloom.
The city was founded on the banks of the Rio Guaíba in 1772 by immigrants from the Azores. Despite its name, the Guaíba isn't actually a river but a 50-km-long (31-mile-long) estuary, fed by four rivers that merge a few miles upstream from the city and leading to the Atlantic through the Lagoa dos Patos. Thanks to this ocean access, Porto Alegre is the most important port city in the South.