Rio de Janeiro



Area 1.182 Km2
Population 5.857.904 (1996)
Area Code 021
Time zone GMT -3 hours
Voltage 110 V


Average Temperatures

Months January April June September
ºC ºC ºC ºC
Highest 40 27,5 24 25,4
Average 32,2 23,2 20,3 22,4
Lowest 24,4 21,3 17,7 20

Rio de Janeiro is Brazil's best known postcard. Its image is closely linked with the Sugarloaf and Corcovado Mountains, football, samba and the attractive tanned and vivacious people. The Rio of the postcards is also the capital of the state of the same name - an exuberant state with a captivating natural beauty, shaped by its unusual geography and by the effervescence of its inhabitants who manage to combine the art of working and playing to the absolute maximum. For almost two and a half centuries, from 1716 to 1960, the city of Rio de Janeiro has been the capital of the Colony, the Empire and the Brazilian Republic.


Like a prima donna it has reigned over politics, the economy, culture and as the centre of the country's financial and social scene. With the transfer of the capital to Brasília in 1960, Rio lost its political status but not its charm or the title of "fabulous city". It has retained its integrity as a centre of culture and tourism and has continued to be the main gateway for incoming foreign visitors.

Tucked between the mountains and the sea, Rio de Janeiro is an unusual city on account of its geography and is certainly the part of Brazil that is best-known world-wide. At the very mention of the country even those with only the slightest knowledge of Brazil, automatically associate it with the "fabulous city". The capital of Rio de Janeiro is endowed with a natural beauty that ranges from the beaches that indent the coastline, such as Arpoador, Ipanema and Copacabana, to the peaks that punctuate its landscape, such as the Corcovado and Sugarloaf Mountains.


Rio contains the largest urban forest in the world, the Tijuca Forest, which was completely replanted during the second half of the nineteenth century. The city is still one of the main sources of national culture and is the cradle of three types of Brazilian music - the choro, the samba and the bossa nova. Many attribute the exuberant and infectious gaiety of Rio's citizens to the city's pulsating night-life, just as they attribute the poetry that springs from its corners and the flourishing of the arts to Rio de Janeiro's privileged geography.

Side by side with this picture postcard city is another one set on the hillsides - the land of the overcrowded favelas and poverty but also the birthplace of Brazil's most popular festival, the annual carnival, known as Carnaval. Carnaval draws together rich and poor and all races to enjoy themselves in the clubs and on the streets with the added attraction of the world's largest samba parade that takes place in the Sambódromo, built in 1982 and designed by the Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer.

From sophisticated jewelry and Euro-style clothes to teeny tangas and funky tie-dyed dresses, the shopping choices in Rio are extensive. You can stroll down streets lined with fashionable boutiques, barter with vendors at street fairs, or wander through one of more than two dozen air-conditioned malls. Ipanema is Rio's most fashionable shopping district. In Copacabana you'll find souvenir shops, bookstores, and branches of some of Rio's better shops. If upscale jewelry catches your fancy, head for Avenida Atlântica. Brazil is one of the world's largest producers of gold and the largest supplier of colored gemstones, with important deposits of aquamarines, amethysts, diamonds, emeralds, rubellites, topazes, and tourmalines.

Many areas of the state are just as attractive as its capital. The coastline is one of the most beautiful in Brazil with bays, inlets and beaches of all kinds to suit all tastes. The beaches stretch from the Costa do Sol, north of Rio, to the Costa Verde, south of the capital. Inland, amid the exuberance of the forests is the mountain region with towns such as Teresópolis, Nova Friburgo and Petrópolis, one of Brazil's most important historical towns where the Brazilian Imperial family came to take their ease during the nineteenth century. Also inland is the Itatiaia region where the country's first national park was created in 1937 and the location of the highest point of the state, Pico das Agulhas Negras, rising 2,787 metres high.