"Welcome to the City of God" Top 5 Page for this destination Rio de Janeiro by racheljapi

Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide: 3,659 reviews and 6,495 photos

History of Rio

The Colonial Period

The site of Rio de Janeiro was founded by Portuguese explorers as they entered Guanabara Bay on the first of January, 1502. Since the bay was considered the mouth of a river, the city was named in honor of the day, Rio de Janeiro, or River of January. French traders also settled in the Guanabara Bay area, in an attempt to gain an economic and strategic foothold in Brazil. After two years of battles (1565-67), the French were expelled and the site of Rio was moved up onto a hill, later known as Castle Hill, for protection form further invasions. Rio grew on the exporting of sugar cane, grown on the surrounding plains. Eventually gold and diamonds were found in the Mines Gerais area, causing a economic shift to occur and Rio to reap the benefits. Many Europeans moved here after this discovery and in 1763 the capital was moved from Salvador to Rio, further increasing its prominence.

With increased competition in the sugar cane market from other South American countries and the resource depleted mines not producing what they had, Rio de Janeiro fell into an economic crisis. At the turn of the 19th century, Rio's exports were less than half of what they had been forty years previous. This began to turn around with the exporting of coffee and the resettling of the Portuguese royal family in Rio. Their thirteen year stay in Rio catapulted it into new prominence. New buildings and many infrastructure improvements had taken place during this period. After the departure of the royal family, Brazil became an independent nation.

Independent Rio

During the period, Rio adopted public transportation in the form of horse drawn trolleys. These allowed for expansion further away from the city and into Botafogo to the south and Sao Cristovao and Tijuca the north and west. Steamboat service was introduced between Rio and Niteroi to the east. Rio was not only the political center of Brazil, being the capital, but also the economic and cultural center too. It was home to most newspapers, leading artists and writers and was the busiest port in Brazil. The railroad was expanding into the hinterland to transfer more goods through Rio.

Rio As Capital To the Republic Of Brazil

In 1889, Brazil became a republic and Rio remained the political capital. In the following years, Rio began to take the shape of a modern city. The Central Zone was destroyed to make way for newer buildings and widened avenues. Land reclamation was essential to the rebuilding of the Central Business District. Hills were being destroyed and used as infill to develop swampy land. The separation of the three zones were becoming more defined. The north became highly industrial and working class, while the wealthy moved south. The street cars were electrified and were the most prominent form of transportation.

After World War II, the city began to assume the form of a modern city. The street cars were replaced by automobiles and skyscrapers began to define the core. It was felt that for Rio to compete in the world market, it must look the part. Freeways were completed and so was a seven mile bridge between Rio and Niteroi. The shift from an agricultural based economy to an industrial economy occurred creating a mixed blessing. This caused a massive increase in the population of Rio. Though more people were needed to fill the spots in the industries, there was and is a surplus of labor and the influx of poor, unskilled laborers continued. This put intense pressure on the resources of Rio and continues even today. The poor are forced into favelas along the steep hillsides or out around the periphery of the city.

Rio Today

In the 1960's, the capital was moved from Rio to Brasilia, in an effort to decentralize the power found in Rio. All the jobs associated with such political power transfered to the interior of the country. This, along with a slowing economy and increased economic pressure from Sao Paulo, Rio is trying to redefine its role in the Brazilian economy.

Favela info followed by strange facts

For facts and info about favelas check out this link: http://www.macalester.edu/courses/geog61/chad/thefavel.htm

Favelas are a fact of life here. Many Cariocas realize the difficult conditions that people who live in favelas have to face. Along with that it is understood that the great majority of those people are good people. A favela is a place with drug lords, crime, and chaos but it is also a home to many people. Keep that in mind. When you go on your "favela tours" keep in mind that these are real people living their day to day life. A favela is not a zoo for people from first world countries to quickly drive thru so they can say they've been there. You have to actually live or visit consistanty a place to really know it and it's people. And contrary to popular belief, the people of the favela see no money from these tours. If anyone sees the money it's the drug lord. Why don't you guys just hand your purses directly to them? Now I'll get off my soap box :-)

Strange facts:

* The independence of Brazil from Portugal may have started due to a fight between the Portuguese King and his son who was in charge of Brazil... hmmmm

* Brazil has the 2nd highest number of airports in the world.

* The 2nd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th largest sports stadiums on Earth are located in Brazil.

* Brazil has the 2nd highest number of airports in the world.

* Brazil is the only country in the New World to have been the seat of government for a European country.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:weather, sites, food, drink, exchange rate, people, beach
  • Cons:Crime but it's safe as long as you're smart
  • In a nutshell:GO! You must go! It's a have to in everyone's life!
  • Last visit to Rio de Janeiro: Feb 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (87)

Comments (72)

  • Hermanater's Profile Photo
    Sep 14, 2010 at 6:09 AM

    Happy Birthday.....Someday, I will make it to Brazil. Looks like such an amazing country.

  • Elisabcn's Profile Photo
    Jun 26, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    Nice tips and pics! I must see the Chiquita banana lady Museum and the swans in lagao. Yes, I must :-)) Thanks for sharing

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Feb 25, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    Nice page! Lots of great information on things to do and accommodations and lovely photos too!

  • IONE-CRUZ's Profile Photo
    Feb 13, 2010 at 10:22 AM

    Hi! I lived in Rio for 45 years, and can tell you that in Brazil drugs are not allowed anywhere. You cannot "smoke something ilegal" on the beach or any place else. The cops are doing their work!

  • devzan_45's Profile Photo
    Nov 28, 2008 at 9:19 AM

    Hi Rachel, Very informative info. for new/first time visitor. I am visiting Rio. next Feb. and hope to follow your tips.

  • anacapa's Profile Photo
    Oct 7, 2008 at 5:39 PM

    Thanks Rachel for the amazing tips! You've helped me find my hostel in Rio! Thanks!!

  • JohnniOmani's Profile Photo
    Feb 16, 2008 at 1:31 PM

    Hi Rachel, great info on Rio :) nice work. I am looking forward to it next month, cheers from the Bahamas John

  • derk59's Profile Photo
    Dec 21, 2007 at 7:07 AM

    Ahhh, Rio. I spent NYE 2002 there....amazing. I wish I had your excellent tips back then. I am headed to Natal today...can't wait to be back in Brasil.

  • Nov 20, 2007 at 2:29 PM

    Rachel, thank you for the great tips! I can't wait to get there. I will be visiting my brother and spending New Years in Rio at Stone of a Beach Hostel. Soooo excited!!!!

  • sachara's Profile Photo
    Sep 3, 2007 at 12:52 AM

    Rachel, really great insider tips ! Very interesting and useful for when I will come back to Rio some day....

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