Boasting one of the world's most iconic cityscapes, it is little wonder that Brazil's second largest city is commonly known as 'cidade maravilhosa' - the marvellous city.
The former capital of Brazil is the country's second largest city, often considered the country's cultural capital and home to over six million Cariocas.
Rio de Janeiro sits on Brazil's Atlantic coast on the western shore of the Guanabara Bay. It was founded in 1565 by the Portuguese and was actually the capital of Portugal for a period in the 19th century being the only European capital outside of Europe. When Brazil gained independence in 1822, Rio de Janeiro was chosen as the capital and remained so until being succeeded by Brasilia in 1960.
The city is famously flanked by the towering Sugarloaf Mountain, rising 396 metres (1,299 ft) above the coast. The name of the mountain references the importance of the sugar cane trade in Brazil's history and specifically its similarity to the sugarloaf - essentially a giant sugar cube.
Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro by Eric Steffen Cariocas are spoilt for choice with Rio playing host to some of the most visited beaches in the world, no less significant than Ipanema, Copacabana and Praia Vermelha.
Ipanema is marked into sections by posts which define the areas of the beach, including Posto 10 where you'll find a game of soccer or frescobal in full flow, while Post 9 is the place to sunbathe. Copacabana's 4 km is divided in a similar fashion with many beachgoers winding up at one of the many kiosks sipping the national drink, a Caipirinha cocktail.
Elsewhere Praia Vermelha, a small and cosy beach beside the Sugarloaf mountain, is ideal for families while the lesser known Arpoador is a popular spot for surfers.
Long regarded as the Carnival Capital of the World, the Rio Caranval takes place every year over five days marking 40 days before Easter. Over half a million international visitors head to the city to take part in the spectacular celebration of dancing, singing and partying to samba music across the cities streets, bars, clubs and squares.
Perhaps the city's most famous landmark is the 30 metre statue, Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) which overlooks the city with its iconic open arms. Constructed between 1922 and 1931 the city has become an emblem of the city. Visiting the monument up close has become significantly easier with escalators, elevators and walkways installed in 2003. With over 5,000 visitors every day, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Brazil.
Temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the year peaking at an average of 30 °C in February while August is the driest month with an average of 30 mm rainfall in the month.
Last updated: 6 February 2015
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