Guanabara Bay

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Guanabara Bay

Guanabara Bay, Brazil's second-largest bay, located in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Its area is 165 square miles, and it measures 18 miles north to south. When the Portuguese navigator André Gonçalves first entered the bay on what is widely believed to be 1 January 1502, he thought he had discovered the outlet of an immense river, which he named the Rio de Janeiro, after the month of his arrival. The land on the bay's western shore adopted the name when the city of Rio de Janeiro was founded in 1567. Famous for its natural beauty, Guanabara Bay has one of the world's best locations for port facilities. Protection from wind and surf is insured by the small size of its entrance (1,650 yards), the depth of its water, and the surrounding mountains. Since the mid-nineteenth century the bay has held one of the busiest ports of Brazil's central-south coast. At the beginning of the 1990s it was a focal point for ecological campaigns to detoxify its polluted waters.

In January 2000 a pipeline run by the state oil giant Petrobras broke, spewing more than a million gallons of crude oil into the bay and coating scores of marine birds, fish, and other animals. This oil spill, which initially had been reported as minor, turned out to be the bay's second-biggest environmental disaster until 2001.

See alsoBrazil, Geography; Rio de Janeiro (City).


Additional Bibliography

Hetzel, Bia, Silvia Negreiros, and Hugo Moss. Guanabara Bay. Río de Janeiro: Manati, 2000.

Negreiros, José A., and Jack Liebof. Treze mil luas sobre a Guanabara. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Record, 1995.

Sedrez, Lise Fernanda. "The Bay of All Beauties": State and Environment in Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1875–1975. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, 2004.

                                        Sueann Caulfield