Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most visited cities in the Southern Hemisphere and is known for its natural settings, Carnival, samba, bossa nova, and balneario beaches, such as Barra da Tijuca, Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon. In addition to the beaches, some of the most famous landmarks include the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado mountain, named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; Sugarloaf Mountain with its cable car; the Sambódromo (Sambadrome), a permanent grandstand-lined parade avenue which is used during Carnival; and Maracanã Stadium, one of the world’s largest football stadiums.
Rio de Janeiro was established in 1502, two years after the first Portuguese arrived in Brazil. They entered by Guanabara’s Bay, which they thought was a river (rio) and named the city São Sebastião, King of Portugal, do Rio de Janeiro (River of January). Brazil achieved independence in 1889, and was named the capital and remained such for almost 200 years. In the 1960’s, the capital was moved to Brasilia. The territory was converted into Guanabara state, which formed an enclave in Rio de Janeiro state. In March 1975 the two states were fused as the state of Rio de Janeiro. The city of Rio de Janeiro became one of the 14 municipalities of the Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro, or Greater Rio, and was designated the capital of the reorganized state.
At the end of the 19th century, the city’s population exploded due to European immigration and internal migration (mostly former slaves from the coffee and sugar regions). By 1900 Rio boasted more than 800.000 inhabitants, a quarter of them foreign born.
The early 1920s to the late 1950s was one of Rio’s golden ages. With the inauguration of grand luxury resort hotels, the Glória in 1922 and the Copacabana Palace in 1923, Rio became a romantic destination for celebrities and international high society. In some ways, Rio’s quasi-mythic status as a tropical arcadia spans its entire history, but in the 1940s and ’50s its reputation as the urban Eden of Latin America was cemented as the world was introduced to Carmen Miranda, a Rio icon.
For more information