On the 1st of January 1502 the first Portuguese expedition to explore the coast of Brazil arrived here. On entering the Guanabara Bay, and believing it to be the mouth of a great river, they gave it the name Rio de Janeiro (‘river of January’). Later Rio de Janeiro saw other expeditions, and raids by pirates. The Portuguese reacted by sending an armed force under the command of Captain Estácio de Sá, who founded the city of Rio de Janeiro on the 1st of March 1565.
The arrival of the Portuguese Royal Family in 1808, fleeing the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal, increased still further the importance of the city. It moved in sequence from being the headquarters of the Viceroy, to being the capital of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarve, and finally capital of the Empire of Brazil – the latter from 1822, the year of Brazil’s independence. In 1889, with the Proclamation of the Republic, Rio became the capital of the Brazilian federation – a role it kept until 1960 and the inauguration of Brasília.
Water and mountains constitute the basis of the exuberant geography of Rio de Janeiro with its exceptional scenic beauty. The topographic diversity of Rio includes the vegetation. Forests cover hillsides and remaining species of the Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlântica) are preserved in the Tijuca National Park (Parque Nacional da Tijuca).
The vegetation of lowlands, sandbanks and mangroves are preserved in the areas of environmental protection of Grumari and Prainha. Despite having developed into one of the largest urban areas in the world, the city has grown around a big green blotch called Tijuca Forest (Floresta da Tijuca), the largest urban forest in the world, which continues to preserve valuable remnants of its original ecosystems although it was replanted in the 19th century.
The city of Rio de Janeiro is situated at 22°54’23” latitude south and 43°10121” longitude west, in the municipality of the same name; it is the capital of the State of Rio de Janeiro and part of the Southeastern Region of Brazil.
The city’s physical features are products of the mountain range (Serra do Mar), covered by the Mata Atlântica forest. They are characterized by marked contrasts: mountains and sea, forests and beaches, stone walls rising abruptly from extended lowlands, all forming the landscape of rare beauty that has made Rio famous all over the world as the Wonderful City.
The Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon (Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas), one of the most beautiful sceneries in Rio, shaped as a heart and known as the “Heart of Rio”, has an area of 2.4 million square meters. Surrounded by parks, courts for games, kiosks selling food, walking and cycling tracks it is an extremely attractive site.
Measuring 246, 22 km in extension, the coast of Rio is divided into three sectors: Guanabara Bay (Baía de Guanabara), the Atlantic Ocean itself and Sepetiba Bay (Baía de Sepetiba). The coastline is elevated where ramifications of the Tijuca and Pedra Branca Massifs approach the shore; elsewhere it is low. It is straight in the plains, with lovely beaches and sandbanks, and indented near the mountains. From Leblon eastward the seaside strip is more densely populated; to the west it is a region mostly of tourism and leisure.
The climate is tropical, warm and humid, with local variations, due to differences in altitude, vegetation and proximity to the ocean; the average annual temperature is 22° centigrade, with daily averages high in summer.
Rio de Janeiro has been the stage for many of the major events that have shaped Brazil: facts that have marked out the times and left -as part of the country’s history- milestones, cultural heritage, monuments and buildings that are still standing.
For more information see: http://www.rioguiaoficial.com.br/rio-de-janeiro