Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil, on the South Atlantic coast. Rio is famous for its breathtaking landscape, its laid-back beach culture and its annual carnival. The "Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea" has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The harbour of Rio de Janeiro is comprised of a unique entry from the ocean that makes it appear as the mouth of a river. Additionally, the harbor is surrounded by spectacular geographic features including Sugarloaf mountain at 395 meters (1,296 feet), Corcovado Peak at 704 meters (2,310 feet), and the hills of Tijuca at 1,021 meters (3,350 feet). These features work together to collectively make the harbor one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Rio de Janeiro hosted many of the 2014 FIFA World Cup games, including the final. It also hosted the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, becoming the first South American city to host the Summer Olympics.
It is a common mistake to think of Rio as Brazil's capital, a distinction it lost on April 21, 1960 when Brasilia became the capital. Beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema, the Christ The Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) statue, the stadium of Maracanã and Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) are all well-known sights of what the inhabitants call the "marvelous city" (cidade maravilhosa), and are also among the first images to pop up in travelers´ minds, along with the Carnaval celebration.
The South Zone holds most of Rio's landmarks and world-famous beaches, in an area of only 43.87 km² (17 sq miles). Many of them are within walking distance of each other (for instance, the Sugarloaf lies about 8 km (5 miles) from Copacabana beach). Most hotels and hostels are located in this part of the city, which is compressed between the Tijuca Range (Maciço da Tijuca) and the sea. There are important places in other regions as well, such as Maracanã stadium in the North Zone and the many fascinating buildings in the Centre.
Sadly, most people also know Rio for its violence and crime, especially related to drugs. And social problems, as slums or favelas, areas of poor-quality housing and living; these slums are usually located on the city's many mountain slopes, juxtaposed with middle-class neighbourhoods.
Rio was founded in 1565 by the Portuguese as a fortification against French privateers who trafficked wood and goods from Brazil. Piracy played a major role in the city's history, and there are still colonial fortresses to be visited (check below). The Portuguese fought the French for nearly 10 years, both sides having rival native tribes as allies. For the next two centuries it was an unimportant outpost of the Portuguese Empire, until gold, diamonds, and ore were found in Minas Gerais in 1720. Then, as the nearest port, Rio became the port for these minerals and replaced Salvador as the main city in the colony in 1763. When Napoleon invaded Portugal, the Royal Family moved to Brazil and made Rio capital of the Kingdom (so it was the only city outside Europe to be capital of a European country). When Brazil became independent in 1822, it adopted Monarchy as its form of government (with Emperors Pedro I and Pedro II). Many historians and Brazilians from other places say cariocas are nostalgic of the Royal and Imperial times, which is reflected in many place names and shop names. In 2009, the city won their bid to host the games of the XXXI Olympics in the summer of 2016. This was the fifth bid by the city, whose 1936, 1940, 2004, and 2012 bids lost.
The climate of the city of Rio de Janeiro is semi-humid tropical. According to the amount of rainfall, there are two seasons: a hot and rainy season, which runs from September to April, and a dry season, which runs from June to August. The amount of rainfall per year is approximately 1200 mm (47.2 inches), raining about 90 days per year. The city usually receives about 2080 hours of sunshine a year. In December and January, the heat and humidity are usually constant, reaching up to 40º C (104º F), but even with the rains, this season is the high tourist season. During winter in the southern hemisphere, temperatures in Rio are usually milder, rainfall decreases, and average temperatures are typically 19° C (66° F) to maximums of 25° C (77° F).
Sourced from Wikivoyage. Text is available under the CC-by-SA 3.0 license.