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Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Getting There
Getting Around
Public Safety
Health Care
Parks and Recreation
Performing Arts
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
Famous Citizens
For Further Study

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, South America

Founded: Spanish navigator Vicente Yáñez Pinzón is credited with being the first known European to sight Brazil when he landed near present-day Recife on January 26, 1500. The Portuguese Estácio de Sá founded the city in 1565 after expelling the French.
Location: On a flat and narrow coastal plain, between the foothills of the Brazilian Highlands and the Atlantic Ocean, on the shore of Guanabara Bay, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the tropical zone in South America.
Time Zone: 3 pm = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: African, White, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian
Latitude and Longitude: 22°54'S, 43°10'W
Coastline: 78 km (50 mi)
Climate : Rio is in a tropical zone, and the weather is typically hot and humid. Cool ocean breezes temper the temperatures in the area.
Temperature: Summer months of December to March are very hot, with temperatures sometimes exceeding 35 to 39°C (95 to 100°F). During the rest of the year, temperatures range between 20 to 30°C (68 and 86°F). The annual average temperature is 23°C (73°F).
Average Annual Precipitation: 1,080 mm (43 in), but some of the higher elevations get more than 60 inches.
Government: Mayor and municipal council
Weights and Measures: Standard metric
Monetary Units: the Real (about 1.78 per one US dollar)
Telephone Area Codes: Country code: 55; city code: 21

1. Introduction

Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city in Brazil, is often called Cidade Maravilhosa, the Marvelous City. Squeezed by the Atlantic Ocean and the verdant hills of Brazil, Rio's dramatic natural setting has impressed visitors for decades. The energy of its residents is legendary. No one dances more exquisitely or parties longer than the cariocas (residents of Rio). Even within Brazil, cariocas are known as fun, sensual, and easygoing. Their main playgrounds are the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, names that easily roll off the tongue. Yet, Rio is a great city of extremes, often cruel in its indifference to the poor. Next to five-star hotels, the poorest cariocas live in cardboard houses. The great favelas, shantytowns, reach high into the hills, where many residents are lost to poverty, drug abuse, and a life of crime. In the early 1990s, cariocas were shaken from their complacency to social problems when the media reported that corrupt police officerspaid by business ownerswere murdering homeless children. The city lost its luster, as well as many of its tourists. In one of the most famous incidents, roaming bands of youths from the favelas descended on Copacabana Beach, robbing tourists and cariocas alike. Cidade Maravilhosa (marvelous city)? Perhaps only in geography. Yet, cariocas no longer appear complacent about their problems. The city is slowly trying to regain its streets from criminals and years of decay. Many favelas now have basic city services. Its social problems are daunting, but cariocas have an uncharacteristic optimism.

2. Getting There

Between the mountains and the sea, Rio is located on the western shore of Guanabara Bay. On a flat and narrow coastal plain adjacent to the foothills of the Brazilian Highlands, Rio is one of the most important transportation hubs in the country. Most international visitors arrive in Rio, one of the best-known international cities in the world.


Rio's imposing natural setting has its drawbacks. The city snakes along the coast and the mountains, and so do its streets. Cariocas are well known for aggressive driving, and navigating the city's roads is difficult for drivers unfamiliar with the terrain. Rio is connected by highway to major Brazilian cities.

Bus and Railroad Service

There is rail service to São Paulo and Belo Horizonte. Many bus companies offer international travel to the neighboring countries of Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina.

Rio de Janeiro Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 5,600,000
Area: 1,255 sq km (485 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: African, White, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian
Nicknames: Rio de Janeiro is Portuguese for "river of January." They thought the large entrance of what is now known as Guanabara Bay was the mouth of a river. In Brazil, Rio is known as the Cidade Maravilhosa, the Marvelous City. Its residents are called cariocas. The word is of Tupi Indian origin (kari'oka, white house or house of white man).

Metropolitan Area

Population: 10,556,000
Description: City of Rio and 16 other municipalities
Area: Over 5,384 sq km (over 2,079 sq mi)
World population rank 1: 19
Percentage of national population 2: 6.2%
Average yearly growth rate: 0.7%
Ethnic composition: African, White, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian

  1. The Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of Brazil's total population living in the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area.


Two airports serve the city: Galeão for domestic and international services and Santos Dumont for domestic airlines.

3. Getting Around

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

Rio opened the first of two underground metro lines in 1979 and plans to continue expanding the system to alleviate traffic congestion. Two lines connect some parts of the city. An extensive bus system accounts for about 70 percent of all passenger trips. There are many taxis and thousands of private automobiles. Rail connects Rio to its suburbs and satellite cities. Motorboats, ferries, and hydrofoils serve communities across Guanabara Bay.


Many visitors go to Rio strictly to enjoy the world-renowned beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. Others go to take part in the internationally famous Carnival and Carnival parade, celebrated for five days preceding Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent), attracting thousands of visitors. However, there are many other sights to see in the Marvelous City.

One of the most visited sites in Rio is Mount Corcovado, with its Christ the Redeemer statue. Another is Sugar Loaf, offering an impressive view of the city below. Many people go to the Quinta da Boa Vista, the park that is home to the National Museum, and the Zoological Garden. Also popular are the Botanical Gardens and Tijuca National Park, located in the Forest of Tijuca; the National Museum of Fine Arts; the Museum of Modern Art; and the Indian Museum.

4. People

During most of the twentieth century, Rio de Janeiro grew rapidly, mostly with Brazilian migrants from the states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, and Espírito Santo. Growth began to level off in 1960 when Rio lost its status as the nation's capital. About two-thirds of Rio's residents are of African descent, a reflection of the nation's early history when millions of African slaves were brought to the New World to work on plantations. By the mid-1800s, there were two-and-a-half million slaves in Brazil.

Like the nation, Rio is ethnically diverse, with widespread racial mixing. Many of the city's residents are of Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish roots. While the country prides itself on its racial harmony and tolerance, racial issues are much more complicated. In Rio, and Brazilian society in general, whites are better off economically and enjoy more privilege. In something as simple as television programming and advertising, blacks and native Brazilians are greatly outnumbered. In Rio, mostly whites live in the wealthier enclaves of Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon, while mostly blacks live in the favelas that surround the city.

Although separated by class and race, Brazilians have many things in common. The dominant language is Portuguese. Most are Catholic, although many follow Afro-Brazilian religions like Umbanda and Condomble. All races dance to the same beat of the samba and other Afro-Brazilian sounds. The beach, especially in Rio, is the great equalizer. Here, where just about everybody wears skimpy swimsuits, it is difficult to pinpoint the elite from the poor masses.

5. Neighborhoods

Geography and class define Rio's neighborhoods. The rich live close to the water. The great masses of poor people have been pushed high into the hills. There, the poor have built favelas, shantytowns that lack basic necessities like water, electricity, and paved roads. Cariocas have also redefined their space periodically. As the city grew over difficult terrain, they leveled hills or bored tunnels through them. They reclaimed parts of Guanabara Bay to make room for the growing city.

Today, Rio is divided into three distinct zones. The traditional historical center is sandwiched by the eastern base of the Serra de Carioca and Guanabara Bay. The Serra is a small coastal mountain range that runs east-west and cuts the city in half. West and north of the historic center is the northern zone, a large urban area of mostly low-income housing, and factories. The southern zone, with the fashionable Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, and Gávea neighborhoods, is home to middle-class and wealthy cariocas. As the favelas inched closer down the slopes, many wealthy people abandoned the southern-zone neighborhoods. Copacabana, Leblon, and Ipanema experienced slight population decreases in the last decade of the twentieth century. Many wealthier residents have moved to Barra da Tijuca, further west along the coast. It is considered one of the city's most fashionable neighborhoods.

City Fact Comparison
Indicator Atlanta Cairo Rome Beijing
(United States) (Egypt) (Italy) (China)
Population of urban area1 10,556,000 10,772,000 2,688,000 12,033,000
Date the city was founded 1565 AD 969 753 BC 723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy) $142 $193 $172 $129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) $62 $56 $59 $62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.) $15 $14 $15 $16
Total daily costs $219 $173 $246 $207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city 16 13 20 11
Largest newspaper O Globo Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar La Repubblica Renmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper 266,546 1,159,450 754,930 3,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established 1925 1944 1976 1948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.

Many of the favelas have become established neighborhoods with basic city services. From 1991 to 1996, the number of households in the city increased from 1.6 million to 1.7 million. The occupancy rate went down, from 3.4 people per household to 3.3.

6. History

Long before Europeans arrived in what is now Brazil, the area was populated by many different groups of native people, including the Arawak and Carib. The Spanish navigator Vicente Yáñez Pinzón (c.1460c.1524) is credited with being the first known European to sight Brazil when he landed near present-day Recife on January 26, 1500.

The Spaniards didn't make a claim to the territory as it was assigned to Portugal under the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494). Under papal authority, the agreement divided the New World between Spain and Portugal. In theory, the other European countries were not allowed to colonize the New World.

In April 1500, apparently blown off course, Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvarez Cabral (c.1467c.1520) reached Brazil and formally claimed the area for Portugal. Explorers sighted what is now Rio in 1502, but the Portuguese didn't build any permanent settlements. By 1530, with other European nations eager to establish a foothold in the New World, the Portuguese monarchy strengthened its hold on Brazil, dividing the territory into 15 captaincies (administrative districts), each under the jurisdiction of powerful members of the court.

If it hadn't been for French inter-lopers, Rio may have never developed as a city. Salvador and Sao Paulo were founded several years before the Portuguese took any interest in the Rio area. While the Portuguese frantically built forts to keep other countries at bay, the French began to test Brazil's defenses. French traders were after the valuable brazil wood, for which the country is now named. By the mid-1550s, they founded a settlement on one of the islands of Guanabara Bay and called it La France Antarctique (Antarctic France).

Portugal's monarchy sent Estácio de Sá, a nephew of Governor Mem de Sá of Brazil, to get rid of the French in 1565. For the next two years, the Portuguese and French waged bloody battles in what is now Rio de Janeiro. De Sá was killed during one of the skirmishes, but the French were finally ousted from the area in 1567. By 1568, Rio had begun to take formal shape with the construction of a citadel. As in many other early colonies, Rio survived by farming, especially sugarcane. By 1660, Rio had attained some degree of importance and was named the seat of government for the southern captaincies. About 8,000 peoplemostly Indian and black slaves who were forced to work in the plantationslived in the city.

The discovery of gold, diamonds, silver, and other precious minerals in what is now the state of Minas Gerais (general mines), northwest of Rio, boosted the city's fortunes during the 1700s. The Portuguese moved their capital city from Salvador to Rio in 1763, a symbol of its growing importance. Rio grew rapidly, with thousands of European immigrants attracted by diamonds and gold. By the late 1700s, Rio expanded beyond its protective walls.

Rio's growth faltered a bit by the 1790s. Dependent on an export economy, the city was facing formidable competition for its sugar from other colonies in the Americas, and the mines were showing signs of declining production. In just a few years, the value of exports shipped through Rio's port was cut in half. Yet, Rio would not stay down for too long.

During the Napoleonic wars (17991815), Portugal remained faithful to England, earning France's scorn. Napoleon Bonaparte's troops invaded Portugal. Maria I (r. 17771816) and her son, the future João VI, escaped to Brazil and established a government in exile in Rio de Janeiro in 1808. Outside the city, coffee production had replaced sugar as a main crop, and Rio was again on its way to economic recovery. With the monarchs in town, Rio reinvented itself, growing in population and in beauty. Older buildings were restored; hundreds of new mansions and smaller living quarters were built; streets were paved and lighted. More land was reclaimed. The monarchs established the Royal Press, the Royal Library, and the Botanical Gardens, among many others. In 1808, the city's first newspaper was published.

With the death of Maria I, who had been insane for the last 24 years of her life, her son João VI (r. 18161826) became king. João was initially popular in Rio and the rest of Brazil. Some Cariocas, perhaps sensing his importance to the city, did not want him to return to Portugal, where liberals demanded an end to the monarchy. Under growing political pressure, João accepted greatly diminished powers and returned to rule Portugal in 1821. His son, Pedro I (17981834; r. 182231), stayed in Brazil. Portugal attempted to reassert its authority over Brazil. But with British aid, Pedro declared Brazil's independence and became emperor in 1822. By now, Rio had grown to more than 100,000 people. Pedro ruled until 1831 when he abdicated in favor of Pedro II (18251891), the five-year-old heir-apparent. By 1840, Pedro II was old enough to rule and was named emperor. Under his leadership, Brazil continued to thrive with coffee, sugar, cotton, and rubber exports. Pedro II's administration oversaw the continued modernization of Rio. Rail, gas lighting, telephone, and steamboat service to other cities were all in place by the 1870s. However, Pedro would not last. He was against slavery and abolished it in 1888. The move cost him. He was overthrown in 1889, and a republic replaced the monarchy. Rio, which already had more than 500,000 residents, was named the capital of the republic.

During the early years of the republic, Rio de Janeiro changed dramatically. The federal government set out to modernize the city, first bringing tropical diseases like yellow fever under control. By 1920, the city was becoming an important industrial center with a population that exceeded one million people. The city grew by reclaiming land from Guanabara Bay and leveling hills. By 1940, Rio had grown to nearly two million people with no signs of slowing down. By then, the government could no longer control growth. Skyscrapers and large apartment buildings replaced homes and small buildings. Poorer residents were pushed further into the fringes of the city. Rio was now under siege from national interests. Many of Brazil's politicians wanted to develop the vast interior of the country. In 1957, Brazilians began to build the city of Brazilia, which replaced Rio as the national capital in 1960.

Yet Rio remained an important center of politics, culture, and business. By the 1960s, the beachside residential areas of Copacabana and Ipanema were among the most desirable addresses in the world. Its importance would in time turn against the city. Because it offered so many more opportunities than other cities and towns, Rio continued to grow as Brazilians without jobs or education continued to move into the city. They built massive favelas ( shantytowns) and contributed to massive social problems that continue to affect the city. Rio is no longer growing through massive immigration, but serious urban problems, like crime, overcrowding, and pollution, continue to plague the city.

7. Government

The city is governed by a prefeito (mayor). The government is divided into several departments, each administered by a secretary who answers to the mayor, who is elected to a four-year term. The Municipal Chamber, whose members are elected proportionally from Rio's 24 administrative regions, dictates legislation. The city is divided into five planning areas and 158 neighborhoods.

8. Public Safety

In February 2000, Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso called for immediate action to curb crime after his wife's car was stolen. His presidential car had been stolen three months earlier. Compared to the atrocious public safety situation in Brazil, the theft of these cars was minor but symbolic of how crime touches all people throughout the country.

In the 1990s, crime gangs controlled entire Rio neighborhoods. Corrupt police officers, hired by business owners, murdered homeless children and engaged in other criminal activity. By 1994, Rio had one of the highest murder rates in the world, at 61 per 100,000 people. While most crimes were directed at cariocas, tourists also suffered. The city saw a steady decline in the number of international visitors in the 1980s and early 1990s, deterred by highly publicized crimes against tourists. Rio authorities created a special police force to protect tourists and have tried to underplay the crime situation.

Whether Cardoso's call for action will bring any changes remains to be seen. One of Brazil's largest problems is the unrelenting poverty of its people, which is only augmented in cities like Rio, where shantytowns are built next to wealthy enclaves.

9. Economy

Only São Paulo is more economically important than Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. With a major port and international airport, Rio is an important industrial, financial, and commercial center. The city has a large tourism industry that appears to be bouncing back after years of decline. Rio remains the economic engine for a large regional area that extends for several hundred kilometers (miles).

Rio's factories produce processed foods, textiles, furniture, chemicals, petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, and metal products. The manufacture of electronics and computers has begun to play a major role in the economy. The city is a leading financial and banking center. The country's most active stock market, the Bolsa da Valores do Brasil, is located in Rio.

10. Environment

Guanabara Bay is highly polluted. Throughout the year, many of Rio's beaches, including the internationally known beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, are off limits to swimmers because of high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. Poor sanitation in the favelas lead to the proliferation of many diseases.

11. Shopping

Rio is an important retail center. It has major shopping centers and countless small shops that specialize in different products. There are many street vendors. In Copacabana and Ipanema, street vendors sell men's and women's swim suits, towels, sunglasses, and just about anything needed on the beach. Some small boutiques specialize in native art from throughout Brazil.

12. Education

Brazil was expected to enter the twenty-first century with an illiteracy rate of 16 percent despite massive efforts to educate the population. About 25 percent of the poorest children do not attend school. In Rio, those numbers are better, with literacy rates at about 90 percent for people over ten years of age. Yet, many children in the favelas do not go to school, and thousands of homeless children lack any opportunity to better their lives.

In Rio, there are 1,033 primary schools with 25,594 teachers and 667,788 students (1995). There are 370 secondary schools with 9,699 teachers and 227,892 students. There are 53 college preparatory schools with 14,864 teachers and 154,447 students. The city has six major universities and 47 private schools of higher learning. The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, which offer graduate courses, and the State University of Rio de Janeiro are located in the city.

13. Health Care

The city has made major improvements in health, dramatically reducing high infant mortality rates in a short number of years, from 75.3 to 36 deaths per 1,000 births between 1980 and 1987. The overall life expectancy has also increased, from 45 to 63 years between 1940 and 1980. Mortality rates have decreased by improving sanitary conditions throughout the city. Yet, some of those gains have been offset by increases in violence and accidents. There are more than 300 hospitals with 25,872 beds in metropolitan Rio.

14. Media

Rio remains one of the most important publishing centers in Brazil. The country's first newspaper, Gazeta do Rio de Janeiro, was published in Rio on September 10, 1808. Two of the country's leading newspapers today, O Globo and Jornal do Brazil, are published in Rio. Several daily and weekly newspapers, including the business daily Jornal do Commercio, are also published in the city. There are seven television stations and numerous AM and FM radio stations.

15. Sports

Capable of holding 200,000 people, Maracanã stadium is a symbol of Rio's passion for sports. There are more than 130 sports associations in the city, several professional teams, and thousands of cariocas playing soccer, volleyball, and many other sports on any given day. Rio is host to several international events each year in surfing, beach volleyball, car, motorcycle, and horse racing.

On weekends, the sprawling Copacabana beach is crowded with teams playing soccer on the sand. Brazilians are passionate about volleyball. The women's national team won the gold medal in the Barcelona Olympics in 1988. Cariocas have even managed to combine their passion for soccer and volleyball into one gamefutevolei. It is played on the sand with players kicking the ball over the net instead of using their hands.

16. Parks and Recreation

With more than 78 kilometers (48 miles) of coastline and 72 beaches, playing in the sand and water are among the most important recreational activities in Rio. The city has 33 parks and three natural reserves. It has 20 areas classified under environmental protection, ten permanent preservation areas, and three areas of ecological interest.

Samba schools are a popular source of recreation, especially in the favelas. The schools act as neighborhood clubs where residents come to meet each other, learn how to dance, and work together.

17. Performing Arts

Rio is an important center for the arts. The city is home to the Companhia de Balé Clássico do Teatro Municipal, the ballet company, and the Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira, the symphony orchestra. The nationally renowned School of Music is part of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. The Municipal Theater hosts ballet and operas. There are many theater groups in the city and dozens of cultural centers. Rio hosts many musical events, including jazz, dance, and cinema festivals. Rio has more than 60 art galleries, 75 bookstores and libraries, and dozens of cinemas, clubs and dance halls.

18. Libraries and Museums

The city's National Library was founded in 1810 to house the remains of the Royal Library of Ajuda, brought to Brazil from Portugal after the 1755 earthquake in Lisbon. There are many other libraries in the city.

Despite losing its title as capital city, Rio remained a center of culture after 1960. The Brazilian Academy of Letters and the Brazilian Academy of Sciences are in the city. The National Museum of Fine Arts was founded in 1818 and houses important twentieth-century works by leading Brazilian artists. The National Museum has a large collection of pre-Columbian ceramics, dinosaur fossils, and stuffed wildlife. Rio also hosts the National Historical Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Indian Museum.

19. Tourism

International arrivals increased from 8.3 million passengers in 1994 to 10.3 million in 1998 at Rio's international airport. Domestic arrivals rose from 34.7 million to 63.7 million. Visitors come to the Cidade Maravilhosa for its beaches, restaurants, music, exhilarating city life, and the annual Carnival, one of the world's most famous festivals.

Celebrated for five days preceding Ash Wednesday, Carnival attracts thousands of visitors. While it is a national holiday, Carnival is often associated with Rio, which is consistently more exuberant than its neighbors. It is there that the major Carnival parade is held. Samba schools from the favelas and other Rio neighborhoods practice for months to prepare for the festival.

On the night of December 31, Copacabana hosts hundreds of thousands of people who come to celebrate the New Year. According to tradition, people dress in white for good luck and offer a white flower to Yemanjá, the goddess of the seas. Residents party well into the morning hours.

One of the most visited sites in Rio is Mount Corcovado, 704 meters (2,310 feet) high. On top, is Christ the Redeemer, a massive 907-metric-ton (1,000-ton), 30-meter (98-foot) statue standing with welcoming outstretched arms over Rio. Another frequently visited site is Sugar Loaf, which reaches a height of 395 meters (1,296 feet). At the entrance of Guanabara Bay, Sugar Loaf is only reachable by cable car. It offers impressive views of the city below. Many people go to the Quinta da Boa Vista, a park that is home to the National Museum, and the Zoological Garden. The historic Botanical Gardens (1808) and the Tijuca National Park are located in the Forest of Tijuca.

20. Holidays and Festivals


Carnival (five days before Ash Wednesday)

Tiradentes Day

May Day

Corpus Christi

Independence Day

Our Lady of Aparecida Day

All Soul ' s Day
Proclamation Day

21. Famous Citizens

Olavo Bilac (18651918), Brazilian poet.

Fernando Affonso Collor de Mello (b. 1949), became Brazil's youngest president in 1990, with his promise to cut inflation and reform the economy, but was impeached in 1992 by the Chamber of Deputies on charges of corruption.

Afonso Henriques de Lima Barreto (18811922), novelist and journalist.

Antonio Carlos Jobim (192794), composer, guitarist, and pianist, who pioneered the musical style known as bossa nova (new wave).

Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (18391908), great master of Brazilian literature.

Oscar Niemeyer Soares Filho (b. 1907), one of Brazil's most important modern architects, known for the fluid lines of his buildings.

Heitor Villa-Lobos (18871959), important twentieth-century composer, self-trained and influenced by the music of Native American people, credited with revolutionizing musical training in public schools.

22. For Further Study


Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. [Online] Available (accessed February 5, 2000).

Rio de Janeiro Modern Museum of Art. [Online] Available (accessed February 5, 2000).

University of Texas Latin American Network Information Center. [Online] Available (accessed February 5, 2000).

Government Offices

Embassy of Brazil
3006 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Government of Rio de Janeiro. [Online] Available (accessed February 5, 2000).

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Ministry of Sport and Tourism. [Online] Available (accessed February 5, 2000).


O Globo. [Online] Available (accessed February 5, 2000).

Jornal do Brazil. [Online] Available (accessed February 5, 2000).

Jornal do Commercio. [Online] Available (accessed February 5, 2000).


Burns, E. Bradford. A History of Brazil. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

Fausto, Boris. A Concise History of Brazil. London: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Gay, Robert . Popular Organization and Democracy in Rio de Janeiro: A Tale of Two Favelas. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994.

Levine, Robert M., and John C. Crocitti. The Brazil Reader. Raleigh: Duke University Press, 1999.

McGowan, Chris, and Ricardo Pessanha . The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova, and the Popular Music of Brazil. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997.

Rojas-Lombardi, Felipe. The Traveler's Guide to Latin American Customs and Manners. New York: St. Martins Press, 1991.

Skidmore, Thomas E. Brazil: Five Centuries of Change. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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Rio de Janeiro (city, Brazil)

Rio de Janeiro (rē´ō də zhänā´rō, Port. rē´ŏŏ ŧħĬ zhənĕē´rŏŏ) [Port.,=river of January], city (1990 pop. 5,533,011; 1995 metropolitan area est. pop. 10,181,000), capital of Rio de Janeiro state, SE Brazil, on Guanabara Bay of the Atlantic Ocean. The second largest city and former capital of Brazil, it is the cultural center of the country and a financial, commercial, communications, and transportation hub. It has an international airport and a subway. Rio, as it is popularly known, has one of the world's most beautiful natural harbors. It is surrounded by low mountain ranges whose spurs extend almost to the waterside, thus dividing the city. Among its natural landmarks are Sugar Loaf Mt. (1,296 ft/395 m); Corcovado peak (2,310 ft/704 m), site of a colossal statue of Jesus; and the hills of Tijuca (3,350 ft/1,021 m) and Gávea (2,760 ft/841 m).

The city acquired its modern outline in the early 1900s, and extensive public sanitation and remodeling are continuing. Hills have been leveled, tunnels bored (the longest underground urban highway, linking the northern and southern sections of the city, opened in 1968), parts of the bay filled, parks laid out, and beautiful palm-lined drives built to connect the various districts. Favellas, or slums, are interspersed throughout the city; they have been plagued by drug-gang-related crime since the late 20th cent., but a concerted federal, state, and local effort to break gang power began in 2010.


Rio's harbor is deep enough for the largest vessels to come alongside the wharves, which lie near the city center. Through the port flows the major portion of Brazil's imports and exports (iron ore, manganese, coffee, cotton, meat, and hides). Rio is also a distribution center for the coastal trade. The city's manufactures include textiles, foodstuffs, household appliances, cigarettes, chemicals, leather goods, metal products, and printed material. There are two major airports.

Rio's climate is warm and humid, and although the city remains a major tourist center, its success has been hampered by a serious crime problem. Of particular attraction are the crescent-shaped beaches, especially Ipanéma and the Copacabana, with its mosaic sidewalks. The most popular holiday is the pre-Lenten carnival, with its colorful street processions and reveling Cariocas (citizens of Rio).

Points of Interest

Examples of Rio's famous modern architecture are the ministry of education, the Brazilian press association headquarters, and the museum of modern art. More recent buildings of interest include the Cidade das Artes (2013), home of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, and the Rio Museum of Art (2013). Older buildings house the national library, the municipal opera house, and several museums. The Itamarati Palace is also noteworthy. Foremost among educational institutions are the Univ. of Guanabara (formed 1920 as the Univ. of Rio de Janeiro), the Univ. of Brazil, now partly housed in University City on Guanabara Bay, and the Catholic Univ.; there are also military and naval academies and the Oswaldo Cruz biological research center and other scientific institutes. Notable churches include the ornate Candelária Church, the 18th-century Church of Nossa Senhora da Glória, the 17th-century Franciscan convent, and a 16th-century Benedictine monastery. Rio has beautiful subtropical parks, including the Quinta da Boa Vista (a former estate of the emperors) and the botanical garden (founded 1808). The sports stadium is one of the world's largest.


According to tradition, the Rio de Janeiro area was visited in Jan., 1502, by Portuguese explorers who believed Guanabara Bay to be the mouth of a river; it was therefore named Rio de Janeiro. It is more likely that the region was discovered in 1504 by Gonçalo Coelho. In 1555 the French Huguenots established a colony, but they were driven out (1560–67) by Mem de Sá, governor-general of the Portuguese colony of Brazil. At the same time the city of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro was founded by Mem de Sá's cousin. The settlement was captured and held for ransom by the French in 1711. Rio gained importance in the 18th cent., when it was designated the shipping point for all gold from the interior. It replaced Bahia (now Salvador) as the capital of Brazil in 1763 and subsequently became capital of the exiled royal court of Portugal (1808–21), the Brazilian empire (1822), and the federal republic (1889). It was superseded as capital by Brasília in 1960. In 2009 the city was chosen to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.


See J. E. Periman, The Myth of Marginality: Urban Poverty and Politics in Rio De Janeiro (1976); B. Weber, O Rio de Janeiro (1986); C. Pickard, The Insider's Guide to Rio de Janeiro (1986); J. Perlman, Favela: Four Decades of Living on the Edge in Rio de Janeiro (2010).

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Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro City on Guanabara Bay, se Brazil. Discovered by Europeans in 1502, it was later colonized by the French, then the Portuguese. By the 18th century, it was a major outlet for gold mined in the hinterland. In 1763, it became the seat of the viceroy. and then Brazil's capital (1834–1960). The second-largest city in Brazil, Rio is its commercial and industrial centre. Its climate and beaches make it a popular tourist resort. There are large shanty towns surrounding the city. Industries: coffee, sugar refining, shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, publishing and printing, engineering, textiles. Pop. (2000) 5,850,544; 10,894,156 (metropolitan).

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Rio de Janeiro (state, Brazil)

Rio de Janeiro (rē´ō də zhänā´rō, Port. rē´ŏŏ ŧħĬ zhənĕē´rŏŏ), state (1996 pop. 13,316,455), 16,568 sq mi (42,911 sq km), SE Brazil, on the Atlantic Ocean. The capital is Rio de Janeiro.

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Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiroarrow, barrow, farrow, harrow, Jarrow, marrow, narrow, sparrow, taro, tarot, Varro, yarrow •gabbro • Avogadro • Afro • aggro •macro • cilantro • Castro •wheelbarrow •Faro, Kilimanjaro, Pissarro, Pizarro, Tupamaro •Pedro • allegro • hedgerow • velcro •escrow •metro, retro •electro • Jethro •bolero, caballero, dinero, Faeroe, pharaoh, ranchero, sombrero, torero •scarecrow • Ebro •Montenegro, Negro •repro • in vitro • Pyrrho • synchro •windrow • impro • intro • bistro •Babygro • McEnroe •biro, Cairo, giro, gyro, tyro •fibro • micro • maestro •borrow, Corot, morrow, sorrow, tomorrow •cockcrow • cointreau •Moro, Sapporo, Thoreau •Mindoro • Yamoussoukro •Woodrow •burro, burrow, furrow •upthrow •De Niro, hero, Nero, Pierrot, Pinero, Rio de Janeiro, sub-zero, zero •bureau, chiaroscuro, Douro, enduro, euro, Ishiguro, Oruro, Truro •Politburo • guacharo • Diderot •vigoro • Prospero • Cicero • in utero •Devereux • Jivaro • overthrow

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