Porto Alegre is the largest city in southern Brazil, and is the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, which borders Uruguay and Argentina. Located on the Guaiba River, the city was founded in 1742 by immigrants from the Azores. Since the 19th century, it has welcomed people from other parts of the world, particularly Germany, Poland, Spain and Italy. Located at the junction of five rivers, it has become an major river port as well as one of Brazil's main industrial and commercial centres. Porto Alegre has a population of about 1,500,000 inhabitants. The city is the seat of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (1934) and a Catholic university (1948).
The Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) opened its doors in 1931, and was officially constituted in 1948. Today, over 30,000 students follow courses in a range of disciplines onhe modern and attractive campus. The university also has its own teaching hospital and a major conference, or events, centre, which will host the ninth assembly.