Rio de Janeiro is a large city of 11.7 million people situated on the south east coast of Brazil in South America. It is the second largest city in Brazil (after São Paulo), and is the 39th largest city in the world. It was the capital city of Brazil up until 1960, when it was replaced by Brasilia.
Rio has experienced rapid growth in recent years because of rural to urban migration. Huge numbers of people have moved from countryside areas into the city, mainly in search of jobs. This has put a great deal of pressure on services and amenities.
Push factors (driving people away from the countryside) include:
Pull factors (attracting people into the city) include the perception of:
Rapid growth of the city has led to a housing shortage. Most of the rural migrants begin their life in Rio in shanty towns called 'favelas'. 19 per cent of the population live in around 600 of these shanty towns. They are found mainly on the edges of the city, on poor quality land that is not suitable for urban development. People here are squatters, with no legal rights to the land they occupy. They live in overcrowded conditions, often in home-made shelters constructed from scavenged materials like timber, tarpaulins and corrugated iron.
The shanty towns have grown spontaneously with no planning, and so have no proper roads, pavements or local services like hospitals. The largest shanty town is called Rocinha, in the south of the city - overlooking the beaches and main tourist hotels.
With the country undergoing rapid development, car ownership has grown and the central business district is very congested with high levels of air pollution. Mountains hem in the city on the coastline, so traffic is confined to a limited number of routes. Buses and trams provide public transport for the residents, and the city has two subway lines. Roads in the favela areas are often just dirt tracks, and most people living here walk to their destinations.
There are few schools in the favelas.
There is a shortage of hospitals and clinics in the favelas, and high levels of illness and disease prevail here.
High levels of crime, violence and drug abuse blight many of the favelas. Street crime is a problem in the tourist areas, although pacification has recently started to improve crime rates.
In the 1990s, the Favela Bairro Project was set up to help improve life in the favelas and upgrade them rather than demolish them, as has happened in other locations. This work has been carried out with government funding to provide facilities like electricity, sewage systems, rubbish collection and public transport.