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Favela is a term commonly used in Brazil to describe areas such as shanty towns or slums. The term favela comes from the Morro de Favela hillside in Rio de Janeiro, where freed slaves first established a community of squatters in the 1890s.

A favela is fundamentally different from a slum or tenement, primarily in terms of its origin and location. Since Brazil contains a large number of impoverished areas, the word favela is often used interchangeably with these other terms.

Shanty towns are units of irregular self-constructed housing that are occupied illegally. They are usually on lands belonging to third parties, and most often located on the urban periphery. Residences are built without a license and with little or no sanitation. Favelas are often characterized by an almost total absence of numbered streets, sanitation networks, electricity, telephone service, or plumbing.

These areas of irregular and poor quality housing are often crowded onto hillsides. Accidents in such areas, caused primarily by heavy rainfall, are frequent. Favelas are often troubled by drug-related crime and gang warfare. There are rumors that common social codes in favelas forbid residents from engaging in criminal activity while inside their own favela. Favelas are often considered a disgrace within Brazil.

The first favelas were founded in the late 1890s by freed slaves who were forced to serve in the army and then denied places to live when they returned to Rio de Janeiro, then the capital of Brazil. During Brazil's rural exodus period in the 1960s, many people from rural areas came to the cities looking for work. When these immigrants found that they could not maintain a decent standard of living in the developed cities, even with permanent jobs, they were forced to live in the favelas. The number of favelas tripled and the number of people living as squatters in Rio de Janeiro rose almost 500 percent.

People that live in favelas, known as favelados, are often very poor. Many live below the poverty line on less than US$100 per month. Brazil's favelas can be seen as a consequence of the unequal distribution of wealth in the country.

The most famous favelas are those in and around Rio de Janeiro, where they provide a dramatic illustration of the gap between poverty and wealth, positioned side-by-side with the luxurious apartment buildings and mansions of Rio's elite. Several hills in Rio are plastered with favelas. In 2004, it was estimated that 30% of Rio's population lives within favelas. São Paulo also has a large number of favelas.

The 2002 film City of God placed a spotlight on favelas, chronicling the cycle of poverty, violence, and despair in a Rio de Janeiro slum.

See also

External links

  • Pousada Favelinha (http://favelinha.com), A project which enables visitors to stay safely inside a favela in Rio.
  • Squattercity (http://squattercity.blogspot.com), a blog manned by a writer who spent time in Rocinha, the largest and most urbanized favela in Rio de Janeiro, plus other squatter communities around the world.de:Favela

es:Chabola fr:Favela pt:favela


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