SÃO PAULO IS THE largest city in Brazil and serves as the capital of the state of São Paulo. With a metropolitan area population nearing 20 million at the start of the 21st century, São Paulo is the biggest city in and 1 of the fastest-growing urban areas in the world. The city is the industrial center of Brazil, located about 30 mile (48 kilometer) inland from the city of Santos, which serves as São Paulo’s Atlantic Ocean port. Jesuit missionaries founded São Paulo in 1554 as a small Native American settlement, the first in highland Brazil. The Jesuits hoped to use the settlement as a base to convert the region’s native inhabitants to Christianity. The name of the city is due to the fact that they established the city on January 25, the anniversary of the conversion of Saint Paul. São Paulo grew slowly at first, reaching a population of just 300 by the end of the 16th century. The settlement gained the status of a township in 1560. In its first century of existence, there was much Native American influence in São Paulo. The basic housing structure was an indigenous-style straw-covered lodge. Residents ate local foods, slept in hammocks rather than beds, and established unions with Native American women.