Rio de Janeiro

Introduction

Rio de Janeiro (rēˈō də zhänāˈrō, Port. rēˈŏ ħĭ zhənĕēˈrŏ) [key] [Port., = river of January], city (1990 pop. 5,533,011; 1995 metropolitan area est. pop. 10,181,000), capital of Rio de Janeiro state, SE Brazil, on Guanabara Bay of the Atlantic Ocean. The second largest city and former capital of Brazil, it is the cultural center of the country and a financial, commercial, communications, and transportation hub. It has an international airport and a subway. Rio, as it is popularly known, has one of the world's most beautiful natural harbors. It is surrounded by low mountain ranges whose spurs extend almost to the waterside, thus dividing the city. Among its natural landmarks are Sugar Loaf Mt. (1,296 ft/395 m); Corcovado peak (2,310 ft/704 m), site of a colossal statue of Jesus; and the hills of Tijuca (3,350 ft/1,021 m) and Gávea (2,760 ft/841 m).

The city acquired its modern outline in the early 1900s, and extensive public sanitation and remodeling are continuing. Hills have been leveled, tunnels bored (the longest underground urban highway, linking the northern and southern sections of the city, opened in 1968), parts of the bay filled, parks laid out, and beautiful palm-lined drives built to connect the various districts. Favellas, or slums, are interspersed throughout the city; they have been plagued by drug-gang-related crime since the late 20th cent., but a concerted federal, state, and local effort to break gang power began in 2010.

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