Rio de Janeiro ( "River of January" ), 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, 6th largest in the Americas and 26th
in the world.
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 from 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 ), estimated at about 140 billion reais (IBGE/2007), and is the headquarters of two
major Brazilian 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 the most visited city in the southern hemisphere and is known for its
natural settings, carnival celebrations, samba, Bossa Nova, balneario beaches such as
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 Sambodromo, a permanent grandstand-lined parade avenue which is used during
Carnival; and Maracana stadium, one of the world's largest football stadiums.
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