Belem, a suburb of Lisbon, Portugal, on the Tagus, S. W. of the city. It derives its name from the church of Our Lady of Bethlehem, built here by King Emanuel in 1499, on the return of Vasco da Gama from his expedition to India around the Cape of Good Hope. This magnificent structure was erected on the site of the chapel in which Da Gama and his companions passed the night in prayer previous to embarkation. The stone is a carbonate of lime obtained in the vicinity, and was originally white, but is now of a rich golden hue. The whole building stands on piles of pine, lielem was formerly a separate town. It contains a Gothic church, in which is the tomb of the royal family of Portugal. It has also an old fortress, of singularly picturesque appearance, called Torre de Belem, which rises from the bank of the Tagus, and with its batteries commands that river. This quarter of the city contains a royal palace and the residences of many persons of note.
Tower of Belem.
Belem (commonly called Para), a city and seaport of Brazil, capital of the province of Grao Para, on the bay of Guajani, right bank of the estuary of the Rio Para, 75 m. from the Atlantic, and 1,500 m. N. N. W. of Rio de Janeiro; lat. 1° 28's., lon. 48° 30'W.; pop. about 35,000, of whom in 1871 2,500 were slaves. It was founded in 1616 by Francisco Caldei-ra Castello Branco, is the fourth commercial city in the empire, and one of the best built, and remarkable for the number and magnifi-Cence of its public edifices, especially the cathedral, the church of Sao Joao Baptista, the governor's palace, and some others. The houses, mostly of stone, are very neat, and many of them even handsome; but the streets, though regular, are with few exceptions badly payed. The city is divided into two parts, the old and new, the latter having long streets planted with palms or mangabeiras. From July to November high winds prevail, tinging people and buildings with the red dust from the macadamized thoroughfares, and violent thunder storms are of frequent occurrence. Vet the climate is not regarded as unhealthy; the thermometer ranges from 76° to 86° F., and the heat is tempered by refreshing sea breezes.
The prevailing maladies are intermittent fevers, and certain affections of the stomach and liver, produced by the water used in the city from wells containing deleterious matter proceeding from animal and vegetable detritus. The meat and vegetables are also of very inferior quality. The harbor is defended by several forts; though capable of admitting vessels of any draft, it is difficult of approach, and the bed is said to be gradually silting up. The surrounding country is extremely fertile, yielding abundant crops of rice, coffee, cotton, tapioca, etc, which, with sarsaparilla, cacao, balsam copaiba and other drugs, isinglass, Maranhao chestnuts, india rubber, hides and leather, form the principal exports. Of these india rubber is by far the most important. The exports for 1870 amounted to $7,643,394 60, $6,000,000 of which were of india rubber alone; but the precedence is likely to be taken before long by cacao. The imports did not exceed $5,000,000. Belem bids fair to become before many years the chief commercial city of northern Brazil. Nine lines of steamers ply fortnightly between it and the upper Amazon and intermediate points; two lines of ocean steamers touch here monthly to and from Europe, and one to and from New York; and there is besides a prosperous coasting trade.