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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).
Ipanema beach
Ipanema beach

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. The population of the city proper of Rio de Janeiro is about 6,150,000 (as of 2004), occupying an area of 1256 km² (485 sq. miles). The larger metropolitan area population is estimated at 10-13 million. It's Brazil's second-largest city after São Paulo and used to be the country's capital until 1960, when Brasília took its place.


City districts

The city is commonly divided into the historic downtown (Centro), the more touristic 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, and rambles through the hilly streets of the Santa Teresa neighborhood nearby.

South Zone

A view of Ipanema from Corcovado. The can be seen on the background
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 São Conrado , Leblon, Ipanema, Arpoador, Copacabana and Leme, which composes Rio's famous beach coastline.

The neighborhood 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 ("Pão de Açúcar"), 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 842m, is the Pedra da Gávea (Topsail Rock) in São Conrado. Hang gliding is a popular activity on a nearby peak - after a short flight, they land on the Praia do Pepino beach in São Conrado.

Since 1961, the Tijuca forest is a National Park.

North Zone

A picture of the north zone of Rio de Janeiro taken from NASA's Landsat 7
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 Maracanã stadium, 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. Maracanã will 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, Jacarepaguá, Campo 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 Miécimo da Silva Sports Center, nicknamed the "Algodão" Gymnasium, and others in the Ítalo 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.


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 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 "sambódromo" and the popular "blocos de carnaval" that parade in almost every corner of the city. The most famous ones are the following:

  • Cordão 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 Maracanã, to hold 45,000 people. It will be named after Brazilian ex-FIFA president João 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, 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-Açucar), 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

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