Rio de Janeiro informationRio de Janeiro meaning the River of January, commonly referred to as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America. It is the 6th largest city in the Americas with the population of 6.3 million inhabitants.
The city was the capital of Brazil for nearly two centuries, from 1763 till 1815 during the Portuguese colonial era, from1815 until 1821 the capital of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves. It gained independence in1822. Rio de Janeiro was Brazil's capital until 1960, when Brasília took its place. Residents of the city are known as Cariocas. It is also known as the Cidade Maravilhosa or Marvelous City.
Rio de Janeiro locationRio de Janeiro is located on a strip of the Brazilian Atlantic Coast, at the coordinates: 22°54'30'’ S 43°11'47' W. The city was founded along Guanabara Bay (Baia de Guanabara), the entrance to the bay being marked by the famous headland named Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar).
The Centre (Centro) of the town, the city's nucleus is located on the plains of the western coast of Guanabara Bay. The North Zone (Zona Norte) of the city extends to the northwestern plains, hills and mountains. The South Zone (Zona Sul) of the city extends to the beaches lining the open sea, divided from the centre of the town by coastal mountains and southern slopes of the Brazilian Highlands. The area of the city Rio de Janeiro is occupying 1,260 square kilometers (486.5 sq mi), while its metropolitan area is occupying about 4,557.3 sq km (1,759.6 sq mi). The population of the greater metropolitan area is estimated at about 12,387,000, the municipality population amounts to 6,323,037 inhabitants.
Rio de Janeiro weatherRio has a tropical climate and is often characterized by long periods of rain from December to March. Temperatures above 40°C (104° F) are common inland during summers but usually do not last long. Along the coast, high temperatures are moderated by the summer breeze, blowing alternately onshore and offshore. Strong summer showers can provoke floods and bad landslides. Cold weather fronts from Antarctica can reach the city during autumn and winter. At that time the weather changes are frequent. Rainfalls are greater in the mountainous area than along the coast.
The average annual minimum temperature is 21 °C (70 °F), the average annual maximum temperature is 27 °C (81 °F), and the average annual temperature is 23 °C (73 °F). The average annual precipitation amounts to 1,175 mm. Temperatures vary according to elevation, distance from the coast, and type of vegetation. Winters are rather mild with less rain than in summers. Average annual temperature of the sea is 23–24 °C (73–75 °F).
Rio de Janeiro historyA Portuguese expedition led by explorer and captain Gaspar de Lemos discovered Guanabara Bay on January 1, 1502. They named the site Rio de Janeiro – The January River. The Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci was a member of the same expedition. The region was already inhabited by the Tupi, Puri, Botocudo and Maxakalí peoples.
In 1555, one of the islands of Guanabara Bay was occupied by 500 French colonists under the French admiral Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon who had Fort Coligny built on an island in the attempt to establish a French Colony.
The city of Rio de Janeiro was founded by the Portuguese on March 1st, 1565 and was named São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, in honor of St. Sebastian. Until the 18th century the city was threatened or invaded by several conquerors – French, pirates and West Indies buccaneers. In the late 17th century, Rio de Janeiro became an important port for exporting gold, precious stones and sugar.
In 1808 during the Napoleon’s invasion of Portugal, the Portuguese royal family together with the gentry escaping from Portugal moved to Rio de Janeiro. The city became the capital of the Portugese kingdom, the only European capital outside Europe. Lots of African slaves were transported to Rio de Janeiro. At the beginning of 19th century there were 220,000 slaves in the city. The independence of Brazil was proclaimed in 1822. Rio de Janeiro became the capital of the new empire. In 1889 Brazil was proclaimed a Republic. Rio remained the capital of the state. The city was largely limited to the neighborhood now known as the historic Downtown Business District along the Guanabara Bay. Expansion of the city began at the beginning of the 20th century, when the first tunnel was built under the mountains located between Botafogo and the neighborhood now known as Copacabana. Botafogo is a district famous for its natural beauties. The Copacabana Palace Hotel is a luxury hotel whose fame helped Rio to gain the reputation of a beach party town.
On April 21st, 1889 the capital of Brazil was officially moved from Rio de Janeiro to Brasília. Rio will be the first South American city to host the 2016 Olympic Games and the second Latin American city after Mexico City where the Olympic Games were held in 1968.
Rio de Janeiro is the main cultural center of Brazil. Its outstanding architecture is emphasized in its churches and buildings dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries as well as modern 20th century buildings and structures. The city’s architecture was influenced through centuries by Portuguese, English, and French paragons.
Rio de Janeiro tourist attractionsRio de Janeiro is the most visited city in southern hemisphere, known for its natural settings, carnival celebrations, samba, Bossa Nova, and its superb beaches such as Copacabana, Barra da Tijuca, Ipanema, and Leblon. Some of the most famous landmarks in addition to the beaches include the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) built at the top of Corcovado Mountain, proclaimed one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) with its cable car; the Sambódromo, the world famous parade avenue where one of the most attractive events takes place every year – The Rio Carnival. Tourists’ visits include the Maracanã Stadium , one of the world's largest football stadiums. The 2016 Summer Olympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro, the event that will attract thousands and thousands of visitors and sports fans.
In Rio there are important cultural landmarks, like the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library in Portuguese), the seventh largest library in the world, its collections include over 9 million items; the Theatro do Rio, Built on principles of 20th century; the National Museum of Fine Arts; the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden; the Imperial Square; the Brazilian Academy of Letters; the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro and the Natural History Museum.
Rio de Janeiro is the greatest resort and tourist attraction in Brazil. Almost three million foreign tourists visit this unique city every year. Rio boasts with world-class hotels, 80 km of beautiful beaches and the famous Corcovado and Sugarloaf Mountains.
There are a number of beaches and related attractions within Rio, but Arpoador, Copacabana and Ipanema are without doubt the most famous. Each beach stretches back into its lively promenade, where you will find shopping opportunities, bars and restaurants, while on the beach, swimming, water sports and sunbathing are all popular pastimes. Copacabana is the busiest beach, while Leblon Beach is a favourite with families.
Rio de Janeiro's Botanical Gardens are in between Christ the Redeemer and Leblon Beach. They are also scenically located on the edge of Tijuca Forest. The gardens were first planted at the beginning of the 19th century by Prince Regent Dom Joao and have developed into some of the most beautiful gardens in the whole of Brazil. There are thousands of plants and floral attractions, as well as refreshments and cafés. Tourists will find that the best time to visit the Jardim Botanico is during the week, in order to avoid the weekend crowds.
It was designed to be the headquarters for the captains of Brazil's army during Portuguese rule and did not become a palace until King Joao VI ascended to the throne. The Paço Imperial was home to Dom Pedro I and II, but once the monarchy was overthrown, it was demoted to the city's main post office. The building was restored in 1980, when it was turned into a concert hall, and has since been maintained regularly and now stands proudly alongside a movie theatre, restaurant and coffee shop.
Statue of Christ the Redeemer
Possibly the most famous monument in the whole of Brazil, Christ the Redeemer is a 38-metre / 125-foot high statue of Christ with his arms spread out, embracing the city. It is situated at the peak of Corcovado Mountain, where it has stood since 1931. The views across the city and of the coastline are impressive and provide the perfect backdrop to this imposing national symbol.
When compared with other landmarks in the city of Rio de Janeiro, the Metropolitan Cathedral is something of a new addition. It was inaugurated in 1976 after 12 years of construction and consists of an enormous cone, complete with four beautiful stained-glass windows. The cathedral interior is spacious, with enough room to fit over 20,000 people inside, and is home to many paintings, sculptures and murals which were completed by local artists. You will also find a number of historical artefacts dating back literally hundreds of years.
Maracana Stadium is a highlight for some tourists. It is home to Brazilian football and famous throughout the world for hosting some of the world's best footballers. The stadium is enormous with room for 100,000 fans to watch a match, which ensures an incredible atmosphere for every game. Dating back to 1950, the stadium was completely renovated as recently as 2007.
Rio's National Museum boasts a number of artefacts which date back centuries. Showpieces include coins, cannons and religious art. The museum itself is housed in a pink Baroque palace which was once home to the Brazilian monarchy. Many of the items on display were once a part of the personal collections of Emperor Pedro II and Empress Teresa, who were keen botanists and archaeologists.
Museum of Modern Art
As well as a permanent collection, the Museum of Modern Art regularly showcases talent from around the country in temporary exhibitions which focus on contemporary art, up and coming artists and photography. Unfortunately, much of the early work which was displayed here was destroyed by a fire in 1970, but since then the museum has been steadily restocked with quality pieces.