Rio de Janeiro

This article is about the city called Rio de Janeiro. For the state with the same name, see Rio de Janeiro (state).
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Ipanema beach
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A NASA satellite image of Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro (meaning River of January in Portuguese) is the name of both a state and a city in southeastern Brazil. The city is famous for the hotel-lined tourist beaches Copacabana and Ipanema, for the giant statue of Jesus, known as Christ the Redeemer ("Cristo Redentor") on the Corcovado mountain, and for its yearly Carnival celebration. It also has the biggest forest inside an urban region, called "Floresta da Tijuca". The current mayor is Cesar Maia.

Rio de Janeiro is located at 22 degrees, 54 minutes south latitude, 43 degrees 14 minutes west longitude (Template:Coor dm). The population of the city proper of Rio de Janeiro is about 6,150,000 (as of 2004), occupying an area of 1256 km? (485 sq. miles). The larger metropolitan area population is estimated at 10-13 million. It's Brazil's second-largest city after S㯠Paulo and used to be the country's capital until 1960, when Bras�a took its place.



The area where Rio de Janeiro is now was reached by Portuguese explorers in an expedition led by Italian Amerigo Vespucci in January of 1501. Since the Europeans thought at first the Bay of Guanabara was actually the mouth of a river, they called it "Rio de Janeiro", which means January River.

The city wasn't founded until March 1st, 1565 by Portuguese knight Estᣩo de Sᬠwho called it S㯠Sebasti㯠do Rio de Janeiro (San Sebastian of the January River), in honor of then King Sebastian I of Portugal. For centuries, the settlement was commonly called S㯠Sebasti㯠- or even St. Sebastian - instead of the currently popular, second half of its name. It was frequently attacked by pirates and privateers, especially by then enemies of Portugal, such as the Netherlands and France. In the late 16th century, the Portuguese crown began treating the village as strategic location for Atlantic transit of ships between Brazil, the African colonies, and Europe. Fortresses were built and an alliance was formed with nearby native tribes to defend the settlement against invaders - neighbor [[Niter󩝝, for instance, was founded by a native chief for supporting defense.

The exact place of Rio's foundation is at the feet of now world famous Sugar Loaf mountain (P㯭de-A纣ar). Later, the whole city was moved within a palicade on top of a hill, imitating the medieval European strategy of defense of fortified castles - the place was since then called Morro do Castelo (Castle Hill). Therefore, the city developed from current Downtown (Centro, see below) to southwards and then westwards, an urban movement which lasts until nowadays.

Until early 18th century, the city was threaten or invaded by several - mostly French - pirates and buccaneers, such as Jean-Fran篩s Duclerc, Ren頄uguay-Trouin, and Nicolas de Villegaignon. After 1720, when the Portuguese found gold and diamonds in the neighbor captaincy of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro became much more useful port to transport out the wealth than farther Salvador. In 1763, the colonial administration in Portuguese America was moved to Rio.

The city remained mostly a colonial capital until 1808, when the Portuguese Royal Family and most of the Lisbon nobles, fleeing from Napoleon's invasion of Portugal, moved in. The kingdom's capital was transfered to Rio, which then became the only European capital outside of Europe. Since there was no physical space nor urban structure to accommodate hundreds of noblemen who arrived suddenly, many inhabitants were simply evicted from their homes.

When Prince Pedro proclaimed the independence of Brazil in 1822, he decided to keep Rio de Janeiro as the capital of his new empire, yet the city region was losing importance - economic and political - to S㯠Paulo.

Rio was maintained as Brazilian capital after the military overthrew the monarchy and imposed a republic in 1889. However, plans for moving the nation's seat city to the territorial center were considered, until president Juscelino Kubitschek was elected in 1955 and took office in 1956 with a promise to build a new capital. Though many thought it was campaign rhetoric, Kubitschek managed to have Bras�a built, at great cost, by 1960. On April 21st that year, the capital of Brazil was officially moved from Rio to Bras�a.

Between 1960 and 1975, Rio was a city-state (such as Hamburg in Germany) under the name State of Guanabara (after the bay it borders). But, for administrative and political reasons, a presidential decree known as A Fus㯧' (The Fusion) removed the city's federative status and merged it with the state of Rio de Janeiro in 1975. Even today some cariocas claim the return of municipal autonomy.

City districts

The city is commonly divided into the historic downtown (Centro); the tourist-friendly South Zone, with world-famous beaches; the industrial North Zone; the West Zone; and the newer Barra da Tijuca region.


Centro is the historic downtown of the city. Sites of interest include both the historic Church of the Candelaria and the modern-style cathedral, the Municipal Theater, and several museums. Centro remains the heart of the city's business community. The "Bondinho", a trolley car, leaves from a downtown station, crosses a former Roman-style aqueduct - the "Arcos da Carioca" built in 1750 and converted to a tram viaduct in 1896 - and rambles through the hilly streets of the Santa Teresa neighbourhood nearby.

South Zone

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A view of Ipanema from Corcovado. The Cagarras Islands can be seen on the background

The southern zone of Rio de Janeiro is composed of several districts, amongst them are S㯠Conrado, Leblon, Ipanema, Arpoador, Copacabana, Leme, Botafogo and Flamengo which composes Rio's famous beach coastline.

The neighbourhood of Copacabana beach boasts one of the world's most spectacular New Year's Eve parties, as more than two million revellers crowd onto the sands to watch the firework display. As of 2001, the fireworks have been launched from boats, to further guarantee the safety of the event.

Passing Copacabana and Leme, on the district of Urca lies the Sugarloaf Mountain ("P㯠de A纣ar"), whose name characterises the famous hump rising out of the sea. The top can be reached via cable car, accessible from the Hill of Urca ("Morro da Urca"), and offers views second only to Corcovado mountain. The tallest mountain in the city, however, at 842 meters, is the Pedra da Gᶥa (Topsail Rock) in S㯠Conrado. Hang gliding is a popular activity in a nearby peak - after a short flight, they land on the Praia do Pepino beach in S㯠Conrado.

Since 1961, the Tijuca forest is a National Park.

North Zone

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A picture of the north zone of Rio de Janeiro taken from NASA's Landsat 7

The North Zone of Rio is home to the Maracan㠳tadium, still the world's highest capacity football venue, able to hold nearly 200,000 people (however, the biggest stadium of any type is located in Prague, Czech Republic, yet it is not suitable for football). In modern times, the capacity has been reduced to conform with modern safety regulations, and the introduction of seating for all fans. Currently undergoing renovation, it will eventually hold around 120,000. Maracan㠷ill be the site for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and soccer competition of the 2007 Pan American Games.

West Zone

The West Zone is the metropolitan region which is most distant from the Center of Rio de Janeiro. It includes Barra da Tijuca, JacarepaguᬠCampo Grande, Santa Cruz and Bangu. Barra da Tijuca remains an area of accelerated growth, attracting mainly the richer sector of the population, whereas neighbouring districts within the West Zone reveal stark differences between social classes. The area has industrial zones, but some agricultural areas still remain in its wide area. Beyond the neighbourhoods of Barra da Tijuca and Jacarepagua, another district which has exhibited good economic growth is that of Campo Grande. Some modalities of sports of the Pan-American Games of 2007 will be held in the Mi飩mo da Silva Sports Center, nicknamed the "Algod㯦quot; Gymnasium, and others in the ʹalo del Cima Stadium, in Campo Grande.

Barra da Tijuca

To the west of the older zones is Barra da Tijuca, a flat expanse of formerly undeveloped coastal land, which is currently experiencing a wave of new construction. High rise apartments and sprawling shopping malls give the area a far more Americanized feel than the crowded city center (Centro). The urban planning of the area, made in the late 1960s, resembles that of North American suburbs, though mixing housed zones with residential skyscrappers. This has attracted businesses to move to the area to take advantage of this. The large beaches of Barra da Tijuca are also popular with the city's residents. Barra da Tijuca is the home of Pan-American Village for the 2007 Pan American Games.


Main article: Favela

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A Rio de Janeiro favela

Rio is a city of contrasts, and though much of the city clearly ranks alongside the world's most modern metropolises, a significant percentage of the city's 13 million inhabitants do still live in areas of poorer quality housing. The worst of these poorer areas are the slums and shanty towns known as favelas, often crowded onto the hillsides where sturdy buildings are difficult to build, and accidents, mainly from heavy rainfall, are frequent. The favelas are troubled by widespread drug related crime and gang warfare and other poverty-related social issues.


The carnival in Rio de Janeiro has many choices including the famous Escolas de Samba parades in the samb󤲯mo and the popular "blocos de carnaval" that parade in almost every corner of the city. The most famous ones are the following:

  • Cord㯠do bola preta: Parades in the center of the city, it is one of the most traditional "bloco de carnaval".
  • Ipanema's Gand: Gay parade that goes through the ipanema beach.
  • Suvaco do Cristo: Band that parades in the Botanic Garden, right below the Redeemer statue's arm. The name in English translates to "Christ's armpit", and was chosen for that reason.
  • Carmelitas: Band that was supposedly created by nuns, but in fact it is just an alegory of the band. It parades in the hills of Santa Teresa, which have very nice views.


Rio de Janeiro is host to four traditional Brazilian football clubs: Flamengo, Botafogo, Fluminense and Vasco.



The city will host the 2007 Pan American Games from July 13-29, 2007. Copacabana beach will be the site of the triathlon and beach volleyball with yachting competitions held in Guanabara Bay. The city is building a new stadium near the [[Maracan㝝, to hold 45,000 people. It will be named after Brazilian ex-FIFA president Jo㯠Havelange. Rio de Janeiro was also a candidate for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

In one episode of The Simpsons, the family went to Rio. The episode angered several tourist officials and they threatened to sue the producers of the show.

Rio has also been used as a backdrop for many films such as, 007 Moonraker (1979), Blame it on Rio (1984), Bossa Nova (2000), and City of God (2002).

The Harbor of Rio de Janeiro was declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World by CNN.

Rio de Janeiro is also the paradise for rock climbers, with hundreds of routes all over the town, raging from easy boulders to highly technical big walls climbs, all inside the city. The most famous Rio's granite mountain, Sugar Loaf (Pao-de-A絣ar), is an example, with routes from easy 3rd grade (american 5.4, french 3) to really hard 9th grade (5.13/8b) up to 280 meters.

See also

External links


da:Rio de Janeiro de:Rio de Janeiro es:Rio de Janeiro eo:Rio-de-Ĵanejro fr:Rio de Janeiro ga:Rio de Janeiro gl:Rio de Janeiro nl:Rio de Janeiro ja:リオデジャネイロ市 no:Rio de Janeiro pl:Rio de Janeiro pt:Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro) ro:Rio de Janiero sl:Rio de Janeiro fi:Rio de Janeiro ru:Рио-де-Жанейро (город) sv:Rio de Janeiro


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