Record ID: 161

Site Name

Rio de Janeiro


Seaport - other


city (1990 pop. 5,533,011), (cap.) Rio de Janeiro state, SE Brazil, on Guanabara Bay of the Atlantic Ocean; 22�54'S 43�14'W. Popularly known as Rio. The second-largest city and former capital of Brazil, it is the cultural center of the country and a financial, commercial, and transportation hub. It includes the suburbs of Nil�polis, Igua�u, and Realengo. Major airports (2, including Duque de Caxias Internatl. to N) and subway system. One of the world�s most beautiful natural harbors surrounded by low mt. ranges whose spurs extend almost to the waterside, thus dividing the city. The harbor is deep enough for even the largest vessels to come alongside the wharves, which lie near the city�s center. The major portion of Brazil�s imports, as well as its exports (iron ore, manganese, coffee, cotton, meat, and hides), flow through the port of Rio. Mfg. includes textiles, foodstuffs, household appliances, cigarettes, chemicals, leather goods, metal products, and printed material; also a distribution center for the coastal trade. Natural landmarks include: Sugar Loaf Mt. (1,296 ft/395 m); Corcovado peak (2,310 ft/704 m), site of a colossal statue of Christ; and the hills of Tijuca (3,350 ft/1,021 m) and G�vea (2,760 ft/841 m). The city acquired its modern outline in the early 1900s, and extensive public sanitation and remodeling continue. Hills have been leveled, tunnels bored (the longest underground urban highway, linking the N and S sections of the city, opened in 1968), parts of the bay filled, parks laid out, and palm-lined drives built to connect the various districts. Favellas , or slums, are interspersed throughout the city. Climate is warm and humid. Rio is a world-reknowned tourist center, noted for its crescent-shaped beaches (especially Ipan�ma, and Copacabana with its famous mosaic sidewalks). The most popular holiday is the pre-Lenten carnival, with colorful street processions and reveling Cariocas (citizens of Rio). The sports stadium is one of the world�s largest. Examples of Rio�s famous modern architecture are the ministry of education, the Brazilian press association hq., and the Mus. of Modern Art. Older bldgs. house the natl. lib., the municipal opera house, and several museums. The Itamarati Palace is also noteworthy. Foremost among educational institutions are the Univ. of Guanabara (formed 1920 as the Univ. of Rio de Janeiro), the Univ. of Brazil (1937), now partly housed in the Univ. City on Guanabara Bay, and the Catholic Univ. (1958); there are also military and naval academies, the Oswaldo Cruz biological research center, and other scientific institutes. Notable churches include the ornate Candel�ria Church, the 18th-cent. Church of Nossa Senhora da Gl�ria, the 17th-cent. Franciscan convent, and a 16th-cent. Benedictine monastery. Rio has beautiful subtropical parks, including the Quinta da Boa Vista (a former estate of the emperors) and the botanical garden (founded 1808). According to tradition, the city received its name from a visit in Jan. 1502 by Port. explorers who believed Guanabara Bay to be the mouth of a river. It is more likely that the region was discovered in 1504 by Gon�alo Coelho. In 1555 the Fr. Huguenots est. a colony, but were driven out (1560�1567) by Mem de S�, governor-general of the Port. colony of Brazil. At the same time the city of S�o Sebasti�o do Rio de Janeiro was founded by Mem de S�s cousin. The settlement was captured and held for ransom by the French in 1711. In the 18th cent. it was designated the shipping point for all gold from the interior, thus gaining importance. It replaced Bahia (now Salvador) as the capital of Brazil in 1763 and subsequently became the capital of the exiled royal court of Portugal (1808�1821), the Brazilian empire (1822), and the federal republic (1889). It was superseded as the capital by Bras�lia in 1960.