"Passionate" best captures the wild beauty and heady sensuality that is Rio de Janeiro. For Rio is the Cidade Maravilhosa - the "Marvelous City" that throbs to a samba beat and revels in the hedonism of Carnival. There is no place on Earth like Rio - as the city natives, the famed Cariocas, delight in telling you. The geographical facts read like dry dust: over five million souls live in the city, another four million live in the surrounding suburbs, the metropolis is the cultural center of Brazil. The reality is Rio: the white sand beaches of Copacabana, the swaying palm trees, the immense statue of Christ the Redeemer and always the never-ending rhythm of life lived with passionate intensity.
Founded in the early 16th century, Rio was once the capital of Brazil. The city remains the nation's cultural and spiritual center, an amalgam of Latin and African cultures.