Santarém (Portuguese pronunciation: [sɐ̃taˈɾẽj]) is a municipality in the western part of the state of Pará in Brazil. Located at the confluence of the Tapajós and Amazon Rivers, it has become a popular tourist destination. It is the second-most important city in the state, and the financial and economic center of the western part of the state. It leads the Santarém Metropolitan Area, made up of Santarém, Belterra and Mojuí dos Campos. It was once home to the Tapajós Indians, a tribe of Native Americans after whom the river was named. They were the leaders of a large, agricultural chiefdom that flourished before the arrival of Europeans. It is located some 800 km (500 mi) from the two largest cities in the Brazilian Amazon: Manaus, upriver in the state of Amazonas, and the Pará state capital Belém, located downriver at the mouth of the Amazon on the Atlantic Ocean. Santarém has an estimated population of 299,419 people (2012 Census), and is the third most populous city of the state. The city occupies an area of 22 887,087 km2² (14 304,42 sq mi), of which 77 km2 are urban areas. The city was founded by Portuguese colonists in 1661 as New Santarém (after the city in Portugal). It is one of the oldest cities in the Brazilian Amazon. This is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santarém. Because of the crystalline waters of the Tapajós River, Santarém has more than 100 km (62 mi) of natural beaches, such as those of the village of Alter do Chão, known as the "Caribbean in Brazil." The Guardian ranked the latter beach as one of the most beautiful in Brazil and the most beautiful beach on fresh water. Alter do Chão is also home to Sairé, one of the most important folklore festivals of the region, which is held annually in September. Some political activists have lobbied to create a new Brazilian state by dividing the enormous state of Pará into western and eastern regions. The new state to be established in the west would be called Tapajós, with Santarém serving as the capital. Wikipedia
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