The most famous Brazilian symbol, Rio de Janeiro, lives up to its fame. Located between mountains, covered with forests, boasting more than 90 kilometers of beaches, the city offers visitors a wide array of attractions. Beautiful beaches, hills and parks, an immense variety of nature, together with countless cultural and leisure activities; all this makes the Cidade Maravilhosa, or Marvelous City, as Rio is called, a sought-after destination by tourists from all around the world.
The city’s residents, known as Cariocas, are also a major part of the attraction. Rio is the happiest city in the world, a title bestowed upon it by Forbes in 2009. We have the friendliest and liveliest people on the planet. These are people with energy, who believe in their dreams, who find unity in diversity, and create the explosion of passion and beauty that is Mardi Gras, or , as it is known locally. The spirit of the Carioca is our most valuable trait, and it is what makes this city even more marvelous.
The mixture of origins, cultures and classes in Rio has represented an enormous, diverse and colorful Brazil since the very beginning. Portuguese, Germans, Italians, Indians and Africans are all part of who we are. The historical factors of land exploration, late colonization and slave labor created the basis for a variety of problems the city now faces.
The large land area was difficult to settle, due to an abundance of hills and other geographical challenges. The history of Rio presents an ongoing struggle of urbanization. The rapid growth of the population led the city to grow without planning for much of its history.
Today, the Cidade Maravilhosa is the capital of the state, and the second largest metropolis in Brazil, with more than six million inhabitants. Its many advantages come face to face with serious problems of social inequality.
The shantytowns, called favelas, built right next to luxurious neighborhoods, show this reality. Today, residents of these communities account for 20% of the population in Rio. They still suffer from many problems, but are gradually integrated into the city through urbanization, social and police programs.
The city is home to both poverty and wealth. Next to the poorest areas in the city are the headquarters of two of the largest Brazilian companies, Petrobras and Vale. The municipality has a large number of universities and institutes, and is the second largest research and development hub in Brazil. However, there are not enough public high schools, which often leaves young people with few options besides crime and drug trafficking.
Rio has thousands of strong and weak points. Its public transportation system is problematic, but it has all the infrastructure of a major international tourist center, with a large network of hotels, restaurants, stores, bars and night clubs. It suffers from flooding, but also offers beautiful beaches framed by an immense chain of mountains.
The city’s natural assets, cultural effervescence and historical importance also represent competitive advantages for the development of local economic centers. The state of Rio has the largest oil & gas production hub in Brazil. In addition, the city is home to most audiovisual companies in Brazil, and is also a major center for the steelmaking, automobile, pharmaceutical, textile and food industries.
Outdoor sports activities, major events, and the fantastic Maracanã stadium are also important parts of the city. Copacabana Beach and its famous sidewalk, Ipanema Beach and Pedra da Gávea (Gávea Rock) welcome residents and tourists with their beautiful sunsets. Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain), with its cable cars going up and down the mountainside, is another memorable attraction. The mansions, large shopping malls, wide avenues, favelas and winding streets make the city complete, presenting all the contrasts that Rio de Janeiro is known for.
The city’s energy spills over to its bars, night clubs and cultural centers. Rio has to be seen and felt; the smiles, the beautiful people, the mixtures, the improvisation, the unique way of life enjoyed by the Cariocas, who know how to take things as they come. Our arms are open, just like those of the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue, to receive our visitors.