Rio De Janeiro

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With 8 million people occupying an area of 485 square miles, Rio is the second largest city in Brazil. The many districts in the city are distributed in three major areas: Centre, South and North (suburbs). The more affluent South comprises the area between the hills and the sea, from the Centre to the western limits of the city. The North and the suburbs spread from the Centre to the northern and eastern limits . The great majority of tourist attractions and trendy shopping districts are concentrated in the Centre and the South.

The city centre is the financial and business district of Rio, where most historic buildings are located. Crowded and packed with skyscrapers, the Centre is the home of the Municipal Theatre, the Modern Arts Museum, the National Arts Museum and the Sambódromo, where the Carnival parades happen every year.

Santa Teresa and Glória
A quiet district set on a hillside, Santa Teresa is the place chosen by many artists to set up their studios, and the chosen hideaway of the (in)famous Ronnie Biggs. It can be reached by car or tram, through the Lapa tramway, and has a few inexpensive restaurants and attractions like the Ruins Park, with one of the best views of the Bay, and the Chácara do Céu Museum. The adjoining district of Glória has one of the most charming churches in Rio, the 18th century baroque Glória do Outeiro Church.

Flamengo and Catete
Highly populated areas, not too expensive to live in. The Republic Museum is in Catete, and the National Monument to the Victims of the Second World War and the Santos Dumont Airport are closer to the Centre, at the end of the Aterro do Flamengo.

Laranjeiras and Cosme Velho
Mostly residential, with a multitude of trees and green areas. These two districts are located between Flamengo, the Corcovado and the Rebouças tunnel. The Guanabara Palace, seat of the state government, is in Laranjeiras, and closer to the entrance of the tunnel, in Cosme Velho, are the colonial-style houses of the Largo do Boticário and the railway station for the train that goes up Corcovado.

A residential and business district at the same time, Botafogo is the passage between the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake and the Guanabara Bay. The main attractions are the Home of Rui Barbosa, a neo-classic museum, the Indian Museum and the Villa Lobos Museum.

Strictly residential, quiet and secluded, Urca is one of the most pleasant districts in Rio, set between the Sugar Loaf and the 17th century São João Fortress. Fishermen are part of the scenery here, and the district is also home of the Yacht Club.

Copacabana and Leme
With a large population, high rises and a world-famous beach, Copacabana is where the turn of the year fireworks happen, and it has the most eclectic nightlife in Rio, with strip clubs, bars, elegant restaurants and hotels, like the Copacabana Palace Hotel. At the end of Copacabana sits the Copacabana Fort, with a beautiful view and a nice museum.

The utmost trend-setter in Rio, with elegant shops, restaurants and bars, and home of the famous Girl from Ipanema. The Devil and Arpoador beaches are some of the few areas where surfing is allowed outside of Barra da Tijuca.

One of the most beautiful views in Rio, with good restaurants and bars, and a few food kiosks. The lake shore is also a large public sports complex, with a bicycle and jogging track, tennis and football courts and a skate and roller skate bowl. The are also some private clubs and public parks where free open air shows and concerts happen frequently.

The most sophisticated and expensive district in Rio, with large mansions, elegant flats, and a few late night restaurants, bookshops and supermarkets.

Gávea and Jardim Botânico
Very sought after residential districts, with quiet streets and lots of green. Gávea is the home of the Planetarium and the City Park with its Historic Museum. The Botanical Garden is in its namesake Jardim Botânico.

São Conrado
Ensconced between the mountain and a beautiful beach, São Conrado shows a contrast between very expensive flats and houses and Rocinha, the largest slum in Rio. Taking off from the Pedra da Gávea mountain to land on the beach, hang-gliders are a permanent fixture in the skies of São Conrado.

Barra and Recreio dos Bandeirantes
The Brazilian California, with large avenues, long distances and large condos, Barra is the home of the Chico Mendes Park, a protected area for wild animals like birds and alligators. The largest shopping centre in Rio, Barrashopping, is in Barra, as well as the Riocentro convention centre and the motor racing track, the Autódromo, located in the outskirts of Barra, close to Jacarepaguá. The beaches in Barra are the cleanest in Rio, with areas for surfing and scuba diving.

Floresta da Tijuca
A tropical forest in the middle of Rio, with winding roads that go through the trees and overhang over a thousand feet where the most spectacular views of the city and the sea can be seen. Besides the awesome landscape, there are some places worth seeing, like the Emperor Table, the Chinese View and the Açude Museum.

North and the Suburbs
A series of industrial and residential districts, much less expensive then the South, where the Maracanã Stadium, the Zoo, the Museu da Fauna, the International Airport and the Penha Church are located.

History of Rio De Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro was founded in 1565 by the Portuguese as a village by the Sugar Loaf, a stronghold to defend the territory against foreign invaders after the expulsion of the French settlers. The full name of the city, São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, is a tribute to the Portuguese king. In 1567 the village was moved to Morro do Castelo; by this time the population amounted to only 3000 people, most of them indians. The main industries then were fishing, especially whales, and sugar, with large sugar cane plantations and processing plants that extended from Gávea and the Rodrigo de Freitas lake to the suburbs.

At the end of the 17th century, the gold rush in Minas Gerais, north-west of Rio, gave a boost to the city development. There was a substantial increase in immigration from Portugal, that made the city the main port in the Colony. This also attracted a legion of French pirates and smugglers, who invaded the city in 1710 and 1711, when they were finally expelled. The city boomed at an amazing pace, and the increase in population forced a fast infrastructure development to support this growth. The most famous aqueduct in Rio, the Lapa Arcs, was opened in 1793. The structure is so solid that it is used today as a tramway connecting the district of Santa Teresa to the city centre.

The arrival of the Portuguese Royal Family in 1808 turned Rio into the temporary capital of Portugal, and the population increased to 70000 people. The geographical spread of this population through the various districts according to their social and economical standing that still prevails happened at that time. The more affluent families established themselves in the areas between the sea and the hills, known today as the Zona Sul, and the poorer families went beyond the hills, the Zona Norte. This time also marks the creation of the Botanical Garden, the Royal Library and the Customs House (today Casa França-Brasil).

In 1815 Rio de Janeiro was officially declared the capital of Brazil. In 1821 the Royal Family moved back to Portugal, leaving the Prince Dom Pedro I to rule the colony. In 1822, after rebelling against orders to return to Portugal, Dom Pedro I declared Brazil independent from Portugal, and became the first Emperor of Brazil. The palace known as Paço Imperial was the crown seat in Rio.

The first congressional assembly in Brazil was created in Rio in 1823, gathered where the Tiradentes Palace is now. In 1831 Dom Pedro I abdicated, but his son, Dom Pedro II, was not recognised as the ruling Emperor until 1840. It was under Dom Pedro II that Rio de Janeiro suffered significant improvements: between 1854 and 1862 the city received gas lighting, water and sewage services, transatlantic wire and telephone systems. Transport also underwent many developments, with the utilisation of trams, trains and ferry boats. In 1884 the railway that goes up the Corcovado hill was inaugurated, and the opening, in 1892, of the tunnel between Botafogo and Copacabana initiated the migration of the more affluent families to the seaside.
The end of slavery in 1888 and the extinction of the monarchy in 1889 brought a significant growth in the manufacturing industry, with a subsequent decline in agriculture.

The early 20th century brought many improvements to the city centre, with the opening of Rio Branco and Beira-Mar avenues and the construction of the Municipal Theatre, the Arts School and the National Library. In the thirties and forties the population spread along the seaside, occupying the areas of Ipanema and Leblon, and the skyscrapers started to fill the landscape of the residential districts as well as the city centre.

In the sixties the capital was transferred to Brasilia, but Rio remained as the cultural capital of Brazil, and the capital of the Guanabara state. In the sixties and seventies there were big changes to the landscape of Rio, with the creation of the Aterro do Flamengo, the opening of tunnels connecting the South and the North, the Rio-Niterói bridge and the underground.

In 1975 the Guanabara state was extinct, and Rio became the capital of the surrounding Rio de Janeiro state.


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