Friday, November 9, 2007
Rio de Janeiro (IPA: Portuguese: [ˈhiw dʒi ʒʌˈnejɾu], "River of January" English ['ɹioʊ deɪ ʒəˈnɛɹoʊ]) is a major city in southeastern Brazil and the capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro. The city was once the capital of Brazil (1763–1960) and of the Portuguese Empire (1808–1821). Commonly known as just Rio, the city is also nicknamed A Cidade Maravilhosa - "The Marvelous City".
It is famous for its spectacular natural setting, its Carnival celebrations, samba and other music, hotel-lined tourist beaches, such as Copacabana and Ipanema, paved with decorated black and cream swirl pattern mosaics, and also for its huge social disparities, shanty towns, violence and drug traffic. Some of the most famous local landmarks in addition to the beaches include the giant statue of Jesus, known as Christ the Redeemer ('Cristo Redentor') atop Corcovado mountain, which has recently been named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; Sugarloaf mountain (Pão de Açúcar) with its cable car; the Sambódromo, a giant permanent parade stand used during Carnival; and Maracanã stadium, one of the world's largest football stadiums. Rio also boasts the world's largest forest inside an urban area, called Floresta da Tijuca, or 'Tijuca Forest' The population of the larger metropolitan area is estimated at 11-12 million. It was Brazil's capital until 1960, when Brasília took its place. Residents of the city are known as Cariocas. The city's current mayor (2006) is Cesar Maia. The official song of Rio is "Cidade Maravilhosa" (translated as "Marvelous City").
The city is commonly divided into the historic downtown (Centro); the tourist-friendly South Zone, with world-famous beaches; the industrial North Zone; and the West Zone, with the newer Barra da Tijuca district.
( ) Centro (or Downtown in American English) is the historic centre of the city, as well as its financial centre. Sites of interest include the Paço Imperial, built during colonial times to serve as a residence for the Portuguese governors of Brazil; many historic churches, such as the Candelária Church, the colonial Cathedral and the modern-style Rio de Janeiro Cathedral. Around the Cinelândia square there are several landmarks of the Belle Epoque of Rio, such as the Municipal Theatre and the National Library building. Among its several museums, the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts) and the Museu Histórico Nacional (National Historical Museum) are the most important. Other important historical attractions in central Rio include its Passeio Público, an 18th century public garden, as well as the imposing arches of the Arcos da Lapa, a Roman-style aqueduct built around 1750. A bondinho (tram) leaves from a city centre station, crosses the aqueduct (converted to a tram viaduct in 1896) and rambles through the hilly streets of the Santa Teresa neighbourhood nearby.
Downtown remains the heart of the city's business community. Some of the largest companies in Brazil have their head offices here, including Petrobras and Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (the two largest Brazilian corporations).
The North Zone of Rio is home to the Maracanã stadium, once the world's highest capacity football (soccer) venue, able to hold nearly 180,000 people, as it did the World Cup final of 1950. In modern times its capacity has been reduced to conform with modern safety regulations and the stadium has introduced seating for all fans. Currently undergoing renovation, it only has the capacity for 95,000 fans; it will eventually hold around 120,000 people. Maracanã was site for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and football competition of the 2007 Pan-American Games.
Besides the Maracanã, the North Zone of Rio also holds other tourist and historical attractions, such as 'Manguinhos', the home of Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, a centenarian biomedical research institution with a main building fashioned like a Moorish palace, and the beautiful Quinta da Boa Vista, the park where the historical old Imperial Palace is located. Nowadays, the palace hosts the National Museum, specialising in Natural History, Archaeology and Ethnology.
The International Airport of Rio de Janeiro (Galeão – Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport, named after the famous Brazilian musician "Tom" Jobim), the main campus of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro at the Fundão Island, and the Governador Island are also located in the Northern part of Rio. Some of the main neighbourhoods of Rio's north zone are Tijuca -- which shares the Tijuca Rainforest with the South Zone --, Grajaú, Vila Isabel, Méier, São Cristovão and Olaria among others.
The West Zone is the region furthest from the centre of Rio de Janeiro. It includes Barra da Tijuca, Jacarepaguá, Recreio dos Bandeirantes, Vargem Grande, Vargem Pequena, Realengo, Padre Miguel, Bangu, Campo Grande, Jardim Sulacap, and Santa Cruz. Neighbouring districts within the West Zone reveal stark differences between social classes. The area has industrial zones, but some agricultural areas still remain in its wide area.
Westwards from the older zones is Barra da Tijuca, a flat expanse of formerly undeveloped coastal land, which is currently experiencing a wave of new construction. It remains an area of accelerated growth, attracting some of the richer sectors of the population as well as luxury companies. High rise flats and sprawling shopping centres give the area a far more American feel than the crowded city centre. The urban planning of the area, made in the late 1960s, resembles that of United States suburbs, though mixing zones of single-family houses with residential skyscrapers. The beaches of Barra da Tijuca are also popular with the city's residents. Barra da Tijuca is the home of Pan-American Village for the 2007 Pan American Games. Barra da Tijuca now has a tiny, but growing movement for separating Barra from the city of Rio and making Barra a new city.
Beyond the neighbourhoods of Barra da Tijuca and Jacarepaguá, another district that has exhibited economic growth is Campo Grande. Some sports competitions in the Pan-American Games of 2007 will be held in the Miécimo da Silva Sports Centre, nicknamed the 'Algodão' (Cotton) Gymnasium, and others in the Ítalo del Cima Stadium, in Campo Grande.
Rio has a Tropical climate. The average monthly temperatures are shown below, though it is not unusual to reach 40°C in the Summer in inland areas of the city, but in the main tourist areas (south zone, where the beaches are located), the temperature is moderated by the cool seabreezes from the ocean, even during the warmest months. The average mimimum temperature is 21°C, and the average maximum temperature is 27°C. The average yearly precipitation is 1173 mm.
Rio is a city of contrast: there are enormous disparities between rich and poor. Although the city clearly ranks among the world's major metropolises, a significant proportion of the city's 6.5 million inhabitants lives in utmost poverty. The worst of the poorer areas are the slums and shanty towns known as 'favelas'; often crowded onto the hillsides, where sturdy buildings are difficult to build, and accidents, mainly from heavy rainfall, are frequent, killing hundreds of people.
A unique aspect of Rio's favelas is their very close proximity to the city's wealthiest districts. Upper-class neighbourhoods such as Ipanema and Copacabana are squeezed in between the beach and the hills, the latter of which are covered with poor neighbourhoods. Bad public education, a poor health system combined with the saturation of the penitentiary system contribute to the overall poverty and social injustice of the favelas. But then North Zone, the poorest area of Rio that tourists rarely see, gathers the vast majority of Rio's famished and impoverished masses. This social contrast creates a clash between rich and poor, making the South Zone (the wealthy neighborhoods where tourists stay) a very dangerous place where security and violence issues abound.
Rio is one of the most violent cities of the world. . The "War" involves drug-traffic warfare with police fighting against outlaws.
Most of Rio de Janeiro's population is of Portuguese descent, with a large number of people of African descent, and mulattos of mixed Portuguese and African descent. Other important ethnic groups are present in the city, such as Germans, Italians, Spaniards, Arabs, Jews, Asians (mostly Koreans and Japanese) and mixed Amerindians.
The population is composed of people of White European descent (52.5%), of mixed-race descent (35.6%), of Black African descent (11.4%), of Asian or Amerindian descent (0.4%).
The official song of Rio de Janeiro is "Cidade Maravilhosa", which means "marvelous city". The song is considered the "civic anthem" of Rio, and is always the favourite song during Rio's Carnival in February.
Rio was eternalized in the super smash hit song "Garota de Ipanema" (The Girl from Ipanema) composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim and recognized worldwide and recorded by Astrud Gilberto and João Gilberto, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald. This is also the main key song of the Bossa Nova, a musical genre that was born in Rio. A genre unique to Rio and Brazil as a whole is Funk Carioca, a youth phenomenon practiced in usually violent Funk Balls in the poorer areas of greater Rio.
The carnaval is an annual celebration in Brazil held 40 days before Easter and marks the beginning of Lent. Rio de Janeiro has many Carnaval choices, including the famous Escolas de Samba (Samba schools) parades in the sambódromo exhibition centre and the popular 'blocos de carnaval', which parade in almost every corner of the city. The most famous ones are the following:
Cordão do Bola Preta: Parades in the centre of the city. It is one of the most traditional carnavals. In 2006, it gathered 200,000 people in one day.
Suvaco do Cristo: Band that parades in the Botanic Garden, directly below the Redeemer statue's arm. The name, in English, translates as 'Christ's armpit', and was chosen for that reason.
Carmelitas: Band that was supposedly created by nuns, but in fact it is just a theme chosen by the band. It parades in the hills of Santa Teresa, which have very nice views.
Simpatia é Quase Amor: One of the most popular parades in Ipanema. Translates as 'Friendliness is almost love'.
Banda de Ipanema: The most traditional in Ipanema. It attracts a wide range of revellers, including families and a wide spectrum of the gay population (notably spectacular drag queens). Carnaval
Rio de Janeiro is among the biggest cities in South America, but the city is more widely renowned for the various cultural celebrations that are held there every year. The most popular of these is the Carnaval, held two weeks before the traditional Christian fasting of Lent.
People from all over Brazil and from all parts of the world come to Rio to take part and witness the extravaganza. The Carnival brings a lot of people, good food, colour and of course the Samba dance. The celebration of Carnival ends on "Mardi Gras" Tuesday.
Apart from the Carnival, New Year is also a big deal in Rio and is also one of the other major festivals. It's celebrated with several concerts and firework displays all around Rio, the largest one being in Copacabana beach. People wear white clothes, and some of them make offerings to a Candomblé deity called Iemanjá.
Rio also has one of the world's most talked-about nightlife. Rio has a lot of nightclubs where the rich enjoy themselves and party the night away. Clubs like Baronneti, Nuth and Catwalk are some of the country's best known and frequented by celebrities such as Ronaldo, Calvin Klein, Mick Jagger and Naomi Campbell.
Cultural events in Rio de Janeiro
More notable sports events in Rio include the MotoGP Brazilian Grand Prix and the World Beach volleyball finals. Jacarepaguá was the place of Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix into 1978-1990 and the Champ Car event into 1996-1999. WCT/WQS Surf championships were contested on the beaches from 1985-2001. The city has built a new stadium near the Maracanã, to hold 45,000 people. It was named after Brazilian ex-FIFA president João Havelange.
Rio de Janeiro was an applicant city for the 2012 Summer Olympics but failed to make the shortlist of official candidate cities. Copacabana beach would have been the site of the triathlon and beach volleyball, while yachting competitions would have been held in Guanabara Bay. On September 2006, it was announced that Rio would bid for 2016 Summer Olympics. Depending on quantity and quality of bids that the IOC will receive from other NOCs, the IOC will probably announce a shortlist of official candidate cities (Rio was cut at this stage for the 2012 Games) in early 2008, and conduct voting for the host city in 2009.
Sports are a very popular pastime in Rio de Janeiro. The most popular is futebol (soccer). Rio de Janeiro is home to four traditional Brazilian football clubs: Botafogo, Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco.
Other popular sports are beach football, beach american football, beach volleyball, surfing, kitesurfing, hang gliding, motor racing, jiu-jitsu, recreational sailing, beach rugby and competitive rowing. The Brazilian dance/sport/martial art capoeira is also popular. Another sport that is highly popular on the beaches of Rio is called "frescobol" (IPA: [fres.ko.'bɔu̯], matkot), a type of beach tennis.
Rio de Janeiro is also a paradise for rock climbers, with hundreds of routes all over the town, ranging from easy boulders to highly technical big wall climbs, all inside the city. The most famous, Rio's granite mountain, the Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar), is an example, with routes from the easy 3rd grade (American 5.4, French 3) to the extremely difficult 9th grade (5.13/8b), up to 280 metres.
Hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro started in the mid 1970s and quickly proved to be perfectly suited for this town, because of its geography: steep mountains encounter the Atlantic Ocean, which provide excellent take-off locations and great landing zones on the beach. Starting with amateur flights, this activity soon turned into a profitable industry of tandem hang gliding with some very experienced pilots at a cost for a ride around US$100. In the Summer, between December and March, booking in advance is recommended.
Fishing is a very popular activity in Brazil. In Rio de Janeiro, one can expect to catch a plethora of famous Brazilian copperfish, known as peixe de cobre. Many markets sell peixes de cobre and these fish are quite popular for traditional meals.
In Rio de Janeiro, buses are the main means of mass transportation. There are nearly 440 municipal bus lines serving over four million passengers each day, in addition to intercity lines. Although cheap and frequent, Rio's transportation policy has been moving towards trains and subway in order to reduce traffic jams and increase capacity.
Rio de Janeiro has two subway lines (Metro Rio) and several commuter rail lines. Future plans include building a third subway line to Niterói and São Gonçalo, including an underwater tunnel beneath Guanabara Bay to supplement the ferry service currently there.
In Brazil, most interstate transportation is done by road. A large terminal for long-distance buses is in the Santo Cristo neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. There are also two port facilities for cargo and passenger ships (Rio de Janeiro and Sepetiba port).
The City of Rio de Janeiro has five airports.
Galeão - Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport: used for all the international flights and some long-haul domestic flights;
Santos Dumont Regional Airport: Rio de Janeiro's first airport, and formerly the International Airport. It is considered one of the best set airports in whole world because of its location between Sugar Loaf, Corcovado, the Aterro do Flamengo, and Guanabara Bay. Today it is used by the São Paulo – Rio de Janeiro Air Shuttle Service and some flights inside the Rio de Janeiro state, especially to oil-producing cities in the north.
Aeroporto de Jacarepaguá: In the Barra da Tijuca district. It is currently used by Aeroclube do Brasil (Brasil Flying Club) with small aircraft but is planned to be used for the Rio de Janeiro - São Paulo Air Shuttle Service since it is just inside Barra, the city's fastest-growing district.
Campo dos Afonsos: Military airport, where the Brazilian Air Force presents its aerobatic shows. It also holds the MUSAL (Museu Aero-Espacial), one of the largest aviation museums in Latin America.
Santa Cruz Air Base: Military airport. Airports
Flamengo Park - Large park in the Flamengo neighbourhood, beside Guanabara Bay.
Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden – Magnificent park founded in the early 19th century.
Quinta da Boa Vista - Site of the palace used by the emperors of Brazil.
Zoological Garden of Rio de Janeiro - Located in the Quinta da Boa Vista.
Passeio Público - 18th century public garden in central Rio.
Parque Lage – Contains areas of woodland, gardens, aquaria and a children's playground. The School of Visual Art occupies a luxurious early 20th century building faced with Italian marble and tiles. The buildings are protected as national monuments. Parks and squares
Cariocas, as residents of Rio de Janeiro are called in Brazil, have made extensive contributions to Brazil's history, culture, music, literature, education, science, technology etc. – particularly when Rio de Janeiro was the federal capital and a great hub of Brazilian growth and innovation in all these areas. Some important Cariocas, who were born in Rio, are:
Adolfo Lutz, physician and scientist
Bruno Barreto, film director
Carlos Nemer, architect and civil engineer
Carlos Chagas Filho, physician and scientist
Carlos Lacerda, politician, governor of Rio
Carolina Solberg, beach volleyball player
Cartola, composer and singer
Cazuza, composer, poet and singer
Chico Buarque, composer, singer and writer
Bruno Campos, actor
Fernanda Montenegro, actress
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, sociologist, twice president of Brazil
Heitor Villa-Lobos, classic composer and regent
Ismael Silva, composer and singer
Isabel Clark, snowboarder
Ivan Lins, musician, composer and singer
Jô Soares, television entertainer and writer
Jorge Ben Jor, singer and composer
Machado de Assis, writer
Madame Satã, famous outlaw
Marisa Monte, singer and composer
Millôr Fernandes, cartoonist and playwright
Milton Nascimento, singer and composer
Nelson Cavaquinho, composer and singer
Nelson Piquet, racecar driver
Noel Rosa, composer and singer
Oscar Niemeyer, architect
Paulinho da Viola, composer, musician and singer
Paulo Coelho, writer
Emperor D. Pedro II
Pixinguinha, one of the fathers of Chorinho music
Baden Powell, composer and musician (guitar)
Ricardo Arona, MMA fighter
Royce Gracie, jiu-jitsu/MMA fighter
Ronaldo, footballer, most goals scored in World Cups (15)
Sérgio Vieira de Mello, diplomat
Silvio Santos, owner of the SBT television station
Tim Maia, composer and singer
Tom Jobim, composer and musician, one of the creators of Bossa Nova
Vinícius de Moraes, writer, poet, musician and diplomat
Walter Salles, film director
Zico, football manager and former footballer Famous Cariocas
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