Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil, located on the South Atlantic Coast. It is renowned for its stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, bustling nightlife with samba dances, and undoubtedly for their carnival.
Facts about Rio de Janeiro
The name Rio de Janeiro translates to ‘River of January’ in Portuguese but the river doesn’t exist. The explorers mistook the Guanabara Bay as the mouth of a river. It is also nicknamed as ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ meaning the marvelous city.
The city was once a capital of a Portuguese Empire and then became the capital of Brazil from 1763 to 1960. It was replaced by Brasilia in 1960.
The mythical King Momo runs the city for five days a year. A man crowned as King Momo is handed over the keys by the Mayor on the Summer Friday that marks the start of the carnival. He has the key until Ash Wednesday when the carnival is officially over.
Rio Carnival is the largest carnival in the world. More than 3 million tourists come to witness the carnival every year, along with the 5 million locals.
Christ the Redeemer, standing tall at 98 feet, is the largest Art Deco statue in the world. It was also elected as one of the Seven Wonders in 2007.
The statue is at a high risk of getting struck by lightning. A study showed that it gets 2 – 4 direct hits, every year. A tip of the thumb was damaged in 2014.
Street art is legal in Rio. Painters can freely express, and there are some of the most interesting wall graphics in the city. Artists do need permissions from the building’s owner.
Natives and residents of the city are called Cariocas. The word comes from Tupi-Guarani, an indigenous language spoken by the ancient settlers that stayed here.
The stars on the Brazilian flag actually depict the night sky seen from Rio on November 15, 1889. This was the day Brazil declared itself a republic.
The city boasts of the largest urban forest in the whole world. The Tijuca Forest is a place where the forest coexists with the city. It covers an area of 33 square km with pretty waterfalls and lush greenery.
The game of Frescobol or Beach Paddle ball started in Rio. It was played with wooden rackets and tennis balls on the Copacabana Beach.
Rio boasts of amazing wildlife too. An endemic species is the Rio de Janeiro Antwren which is now endangered due to habitat loss.
The black-and-white stone mosaic known as Portuguese pavement can be found on sidewalks in the city. There are QR codes installed into the mosaics at Copacabana which give information to the visitors.
Almost one fourth of the population lives in ‘favelas’ which are slums, as they’re the most affordable housing options here. Also, most of the samba schools are located in the favelas.
In 2006, a research was done by Anya Hohnbaum about the bluest sky in the world. It was scientifically proved that Rio has the bluest sky in the world.
The highest attendance was recorded in the 1950 FIFA World Cup Final, happening at Rio between Brazil and Uruguay. There were almost 2,00,000 people with 1,73,850 paying attendees. Brazilian fans were disappointed as Uruguay won that day.