No other South American city is as famous as Rio. Although it isn’t the Brazilian capital, it the destination on top of most travellers’ itineraries when going to Brazil. Situated among mountains and on the Atlantic Ocean, it makes for a spectacular holiday.
Explorers travelled to Rio (as it is commonly known) after one Pedro Alvares claimed to have discovered the land in 1502. These explorers, headed by André Goncçalves, went back to confirm its existence. Once they landed in Guanabara Bay, Goncçalves thought it was the mouth of a river (which in Portuguese is ‘rio’) and the month was January (Janeiro). Hence the name Rio de Janeiro.
Once the Portuguese arrived and made their presence, they had to fight the French for the area who had also arrived and wanted to claim Rio as theirs. After two years of fighting, under rule from Estacio de Sá, the city was securely in Portuguese hands and he is seen as the official founder of Rio.
It is the fifth most populous country in the world making Rio one of the most populous cities on earth. Even though the locals, known as ‘Cariocas’, live in such cramped conditions, they still know how to enjoy themselves. Go to one of the city’s beaches, particularly Copacabana, and you will see them enjoying their laid back culture.