Rio de Janeiro or the “Marvelous City” as it is fondly called is the second largest city in Brazil with a population of 7 million people. It occupies 485 sq. miles with 31 miles of shoreline.
Rio de Janeiro – The second largest city in Brazil
The Portuguese first came to Rio in 1502 when Americo Vespucio and Andre Gonçalves sailed into the Guanabara Bay. The area officially became Rio de Janeiro on March 1, 1565. It was Brazil’s capital from 1763-1815 and then capital of the United Kingdom of Portugal from 1815-1821 and finally an independent nation from 1822-1960.
The population density of Rio is 12,382 people per square miles with just over 14 million people in the total metropolitan area. The city is comprised of 4 districts. Centro is located in downtown Rio. South Zone has the most famous beaches and is where most of the touristic sights and hotel rooms are. Zona Norte is home of the Maracana Stadium. Zona Oeste is where Barra da Tijuca and Recreio are, and it’s famous for it’s beaches and shopping areas. Rio is the second largest financial and industrial city in Brazil just behind São Paulo. Its main industries include petroleum, pharmaceuticals, furniture, clothing, textiles, processed food and chemicals. More tourists visit Rio yearly than any other part of Brazil.
Cariocas means “white house” and was the name given by natives to the houses built by the Portuguese settlers. The music style Bossa Nova was discovered by the musicians of Rio. The locals are obsessed with working out and work out stations can be found along the beaches. Favorite pastimes include soccer and foot volley.
All major credit cards are accepted just about everywhere in Rio. Use a phone card to make international calls as hotels have some of the highest rates. ATMs are located throughout the city and banks are usually open from 10am to 4pm Monday through Friday. Bring an adapter for your electrical appliances. Shopping hours are usually 9am to 7pm during the week and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays with the exception of the malls that are open Monday through Saturday 10am to 10pm. Rio is one of the largest Catholic communities so most stores are closed on Sunday.