Rio, as the formal state of Rio de Janeiro is more commonly known, is one of the world’s most popular and loved destinations. Its vibrancy and culture permeates every aspect of this Brazilian hotspot.
Its capital city is São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, which is the second largest city in the entire country of Brazil and the sixth largest in both North and South America.
It is the only state to be bordered by all the other states in the same macroregion. These are Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo and São Paulo. It is also bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. This state has a total area of 43 653 square kilometres.
Beach and Mountains at Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.
Interestingly, Rio de Janeiro receives more visitors every year than any other area in the Southern Hemisphere, making tourism a major contributor to the economy and way of life of the residents of this state. The largest cities in this state include:
Rio de Janeiro
Duque de Caxias
São João de Meriti
Campos dos Goytacazes
Although originally inhabited by native tribes, Rio de Janeiro is considered to have been ‘discovered’ when Portuguese explorers encountered Guanabara Bay on 1 January 1502. The name Rio de Janeiro means “River of January”, and is based upon finding this destination on this date. It would be some 53 years later that one of the islands of Guanabara Bay was colonised and occupied by 500 French settlers.
Today, this island is known as Villegagnon Island. Then, on 1 March 1565, the Portuguese established the city of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, while Guanabara Bay was called Rio de Janeiro.
During the 1600’s, Rio became a convenient port for the transport of gold and precious stones. For this reason, the colonial administration was moved to the area in 1763 from Salvador. In 1808, the city saw an influx of Portuguese royal family and associated Lisbon nobles, who were escaping the Napoleonic invasion in their homeland. These ones ousted those who were occupying homes and territory within Rio to take over their established abodes. With these noblemen and royals came hundreds of thousands of slaves, who crossed the ocean from Africa.
When Brazil gained its independence from European rule in 1822, Rio de Janeiro remained its capital city. Since then, it has continued to grow in order to accommodate the ever-increasing population and industrial needs of its residents. One of this city’s greatest moments to date was to be one the official Host Cities™ of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™.
Beach of Bananal, located in the Big Island, coast south of Rio de Janeiro.
Rio de Janeiro comprises a coastal plain and a plateau. The coast stretches for 635 kilometres and is a popular retreat for tourists and locals alike. There are several bays that make up the coastline, and impressive slopes that rise from the shore towards the inland. This varied topography makes for an array of plant- and animal life, giving the state an undeniable beauty and depth. This mountainous state was once very forested, but much of this dense vegetation was sadly destroyed to make space for urban development. The climate of Rio de Janeiro is distinctly tropical, meaning that it is hot and humid.
The industrial sector makes up for the largest proportion of the state’s contribution to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), followed closely by the services sector.
Beautiful and frequented tourist attractions in the state include:
Cathedral São Sebastião
The Sugarloaf Mountains
The Statue of Christ Redeemer
Tijuca National Park
Botanical Gardens (Jardim Botanico)
Barra da Tijuca Beach – the longest beach in the country