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Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is Brazil's most famous city, and many people believe it is the most beautiful as well. Rio has a majestic beauty, with urban areas nestled between a magnificent bay and dazzling beaches on one side, and an abruptly rising mountain range, covered by a luxuriant tropical forest, on the other. This unique landscape justifies Rio's fame as the "Marvelous City".

The city was discovered on January (“Janeiro”, in Portuguese) 1502 by Portuguese navigators who mistook the entrance of Guanabara Bay for the mouth of a river (“Rio”, in Portuguese). In 1763 the colonial capital of Brazil was transferred from Salvador to Rio. In 1808, as Napoleon's armies began the invasion of Portugal, the Portuguese monarchy was transferred there. After the Brazilian Independence, in 1822, Rio became the capital of the country, and remained so until 1960, when Brasília was inaugurated.

People born in Rio are known as "cariocas". The carioca is known for his warm character, the welcoming way he treats foreigners and his permanent fondness for new friendships.

Cariocas are enthusiastic about sports in general, and about soccer in a special way. Rio hosts the world’s largest soccer stadium, called Maracanã (pronounced "marakanan"), with a capacity of 200,000 seats. Some of Rio’s teams are among the best in the world, such as Flamengo, Vasco da Gama, Fluminense and Botafogo.

These are well known soccer teams from Rio. Click on the logos to see their websites (in Portuguese)


Beaches in Rio are so beautiful that they have inspired thousands of songs. Take "The Girl from Ipanema" for example, a song by Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes. This song depicts a gorgeous young lady who walks to the beach of Ipanema and charms all the onlookers.

Other beaches are equally famous, such as Copacabana and Leblon. With its worldwide famous beaches open to all and a wonderful weather throughout the year, Rio de Janeiro is a city always ready to receive the millions of tourists who visit it every year.

Rio de Janeiro is also famous for its Carnival. Despite the fact that Carnival is celebrated all around Brazil, in Rio the celebration is known as “the world’s largest party”, involving literally thousands of people who go to the “Sambódromo”, an avenue specially built to host Carnival. 

But the Sambódromo is just a small part of a huge celebration. During the three days of Carnival, the whole city is filled with music, singing, dancing and many "desfiles"- street parades of brilliantly costumed dancers performing the samba.

Rio provides some of the best known Brazilian postcards, such as the Sugarloaf, Corcovado (a huge statue of Christ with arms wide open), the Tijuca Forest, Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon and the unparalleled fireworks of the New Year’s Day Celebration.

With its 6 million inhabitants, Rio is also an industrial and financial center, as well as a producer of foodstuffs, building materials, electrical equipment, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and textiles.