The city of Ribeirão Preto

Ribeirão Preto was chosen to house the Law School of Ribeirão Preto because it is an economically important region in Brazil – it has the 24th largest GDP in Brazil. In the past, Ribeirão Preto was a center for coffee production, which was responsible for a great deal of the city’s development in the first half of the 20th century. Despite its agricultural production now being only a fraction of what it used to be, Ribeirão is still where agriculturists, businessmen and politicians converge to in order to discuss and draw up new policies for this sector.


Ribeirão Preto is located in one of the country’s most well-developed regions, being one of the State of São Paulo’s richest cities. The city stands out due to its diversified economy and its elevated living standard (considering income, consumption and life expectancy). The per capita income is similar to some Mediterranean countries and twice as large as the Brazilian average.


It is located 313 km away from the State’s capital and is very close to important consumption centers. High quality transport, communications and infrastructure ensure easy access to these areas. It is a typically urban city, and its strong economy is supported by agribusiness, commerce and the service industry.




The city was founded by farmers from southeast State of São Paulo in June 1856. They came in search of good weather and soil that was suitable for coffee farming. Eventually, their choice proved to be a correct one and the region’s fertile soil turned the region into the most productive coffee farming area in Brazil.


The quick development of coffee farming brought wealth and progress to the city, which, around 1880, became the world’s largest coffee producer. Coffee, or “green gold”, as it was called at the time, was responsible for a sort of “gold rush” in the region, which attracted workers and adventurers from around the world. The end of slavery created a strong demand for manpower and the “coffee lords”, as the coffee farmers were known, boosted European immigration – mainly from Italy, but also from Portugal, Spain and Germany – to Ribeirão Preto. Later, after the stock market crash of 1929, several of these immigrants bought farms from their former employers, who were now debt-ridden.




After the 1929 New York Stock Exchange crash Ribeirão Preto’s economy, which relied on a single exportation product, collapsed and the city was forced to adapt to a new situation. Due to its location, relatively far from other large urban centers in Brazil, the city found its new economic calling in the service industry and commercial sector, which developed in response to local and regional demands.


The second economic boom in Ribeirão Preto’s history happened after the 1970’s Oil Crisis (in 1973 and 1979). The increase in oil prices forced Brazil to find alternative fuels and the solution was the fuel alcohol program, or Pró-Álcool, as it was called. Pró-Álcool led to the development of new technology which allowed ethanol (sugar cane alcohol) to be used and reduced pollutant emissions. Because of Pró-Álcool, Ribeirão Preto region agriculturists were subsidized by the government, in order to increase sugar cane production. High productivity in the Ribeirão Preto area quickly put the region ahead as the largest ethanol and sugar producer in the world, making it responsible for 30% of the ethanol fuel production in Brazil.


Besides sugar and ethanol, Ribeirão Preto’s main products are: orange juice, cotton, rice, meat, dairy products, textiles, machinery, steel, furniture, construction materials, agrochemicals, pharmaceutical products and beer. The city now hosts “Agrishow”, an international agricultural event that happens every year.




In the early 20th century and throughout its first three decades, Ribeirão Preto was a wealthy city, with many mansions inspired by the European style, cabarets and even two opera houses. One of them – Teatro Carlos Gomes (in homage to the Brazilian opera writer Carlos Gomes) – was demolished in 1949; the other one, however, was built in 1920 and withstood the test of time, going through refurbishing and modernization processes in the 90’s – the “Pedro II Theater”, named after Emperor Dom Pedro II. Its ceiling, after being completely destroyed in a 1980 fire, was reconstructed and got a new design by Japanese Brazilian artist Tomie Ohtake. Pedro II Theater is now the third largest opera theater in Brazil and houses the Ribeirão Preto Symphonic Orchestra, one of the oldest and most important ones in Brazil.


The city’s first factory, Antarctica, was opened in 1911. This company was responsible for building the Pedro II Theater, and the opening of their factory led to many other breweries being opened in the city. One of them, named Pinguim, became particularly famous and made Ribeirão Preto famous across the country for the quality of its draft beer (“chopp”, in Brazilian Portuguese). Many people say that Pinguim had the best draft beer in the country, and it became so popular that it is now one of the symbols for the city.


The city has a hot climate, which makes people go out at night to chat and enjoy cold beers in several different bars. Because of this, the city is filled with bars or “botecos”, which can be found almost anywhere.


Annually, the city is host to a series of events, such as Agrishow (International Fair for Agricultural Technology in Action), the Ribeirão Preto National Book Fair (the second largest outdoor fair in Brazil) and Stock Car Brazil, among others.

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Phone: +55 16 3315-0115