Who doesn't think they know Brazil's magic city of beaches, samba, and Carnaval? Rio de Janeiro is all that, of course, and much more. Pico Iyer uncovers a tropical megalopolis whose moods and colors change by the hour
The continuing strength of foreign currencies against the Brazilian Real and the national football team's success in the 2002 World Cup have both helped to make Brazil, and Rio in particular, an increasingly popular and affordable year-round destination. And as the host of the forthcoming Pan American Games in 2007, the city is undergoing considerable regeneration and many new hotels are either built or being built. As well as the city's well-known landmarks of Corcovado and Sugar Loaf mountains, Rio boasts a wealth of attractions and activities, plus great food, music and entertainment - enough to keep a visitor busy for any length of stay.
Situated in southeast Brazil, on the natural port of the Baía de Guanabara (Guanabara Bay), Rio is a city of over 10 million people squeezed between the ocean and the mountains. The cidade maravilhosa (marvellous city) is a melting pot of cultures and peoples in varying degrees of wealth or poverty. In Rio, the rich and poor live together and the exclusive areas stand in stark contrast and close proximity to the slum areas or favelas. But no matter what their background or economic standing, the Cariocas (as the citizens of Rio are known) are characterised by a passion and enthusiasm for life, which is on full show during Rio's famous annual Carnival.
Central to the Carioca lifestyle is the beach. From dawn until dusk and even after dark, the residents of Rio can be found enjoying the long stretches of sandy coastline with which the city is blessed. The beach is not merely a place to absorb the sun's rays but also an important venue for sports, socialising and even business. It is a people-watcher's paradise - clothing is minimal and bodies are bronzed and beautiful. The famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are magnets for Brazilians and tourists alike.
For more information about the tourism please visit the following link (the following site is in Portuguese, by visiting the site and clicking on the English version you will see the site in English):
The official Tourism Site of the Rio Estate Government: RioTur