Rio de Janeiro commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th largest in the Americas, and 26th in the world. Rio de Janeiro has become a home of a World Heritage Site named “Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea”, as granted by UNESCO on 1 July 2012 in the category Cultural Landscape.
The city was the capital of Brazil for nearly two centuries, from 1763 to 1815 during the Portuguese colonial era, 1815 to 1821 as the capital of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves, and 1822 to 1960 as an independent nation. Rio is nicknamed the Cidade Maravilhosa or “Marvelous City”.
Rio de Janeiro represents the second largest GDP in the country (and 30th largest in the world in 2008), estimated at about R$343 billion (IBGE/2008) (nearly US$201 billion), and is headquarters to two of Brazil’s major companies—Petrobras and Vale, and major oil companies and telephony in Brazil, besides the largest conglomerate of media and communications companies in Latin America, the Globo Organizations. The home of many universities and institutes, it is the second largest center of research and development in Brazil, accounting for 17% of national scientific production—according to 2005 data.
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most visited cities in the southern hemisphere and is known for its natural settings, carnival celebrations, samba,Bossa Nova, balneario beaches such as Barra da Tijuca, Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon. Some of the most famous landmarks in addition to the beaches include the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer (“Cristo Redentor”) atop Corcovado mountain, named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; Sugarloaf mountain (Pão de Açúcar) with its cable car; the Sambódromo, a permanent grandstand-lined parade avenue which is use
Rio de Janeiro is on a strip of Brazil’s Atlantic coast, close to the Tropic of Capricorn, where the shoreline is oriented east–west. Facing largely south, the city was founded on an inlet of this stretch of the coast, Guanabara Bay (Baía de Guanabara), and its entrance is marked by a point of land called Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar)—a “calling card” of the city.
The Centre (Centro), the core of Rio, lies on the plains of the western shore of Guanabara Bay. The greater portion of the city, commonly referred to as the North Zone (Zona Norte), extends to the northwest on plains composed of marine and continental sediments and on hills and several rocky mountains. The South Zone (Zona Sul) of the city, reaching the beaches fringing the open sea, is cut off from the Centre and from the North Zone by coastal mountains. These mountains and hills are offshoots of the Serra do Mar to the northwest, the ancient gneiss-granite mountain chain that forms the southern slopes of the Brazilian Highlands. The large West Zone (Zona Oeste), long cut off by the mountainous terrain, had been made accessible by new roads and tunnels by the end of the 20th century.
The population of the city of Rio de Janeiro, occupying an area of 1,182.3 square kilometres (456.5 sq mi), is about 6,000,000. The population of the greater metropolitan area is estimated at 11–13.5 million. It was Brazil’s capital until 1960, when Brasília took its place. Residents of the city are known as cariocas. The official song of Rio is “Cidade Maravilhosa”, by composer André Filho.d during Carnival; and Maracanã Stadium, one of the world’s largest football stadiums.