Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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On Guanabara Bay on Brazil’s southern Atlantic coast, Rio de Janeiro is the country’s second largest city and its cultural heart. Rio de Janeiro was the capital of the Portuguese colony from 1716. In 1960 the capital status was transferred to the newly built, centrally located Brasília. An economic, financial and tourist centre, the city is the capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro.


The first mention of the city dates from the second Portuguese expedition to the New World in 1502, led by Gaspar de Lemos. Landing in Jan. and believing Guanabara bay to be the mouth of a river, he named the region Rio (river) de Janeiro (Jan.). The first settlers in the area arrived with Admiral Nicholas de Villegaignon in 1555 with the intention of establishing a colony of French Huguenots. The Portuguese governor Mem de Sá tried to expel the French but it was his nephew Estacio de Sá who finally forced the French to leave in the mid-1560s. Once in Portuguese hands, the city began...

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