Rio de Janeiro has the second largest economy of Brazil behind only the state of São Paulo.
The state of Rio de Janeiro is located within the Brazilian geopolitical region classified as the Southeast (assigned by IBGE). Rio de Janeiro share borders with all the other states in the same Southeast macroregion: Minas Gerais (N and NW), Espírito Santo (NE) and São Paulo (SW). It is bounded on the east and south by the Atlantic Ocean. Rio de Janeiro has an area of 43,653 km². Its capital is the city of Rio de Janeiro, which was the capital of the Portuguese Colony of Brazil from 1763 to 1815, capital of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves from 1815 to 1822, and capital of independent Brazil from 1822 to 1960.
The state's largest cities are Rio de Janeiro, São Gonçalo, Duque de Caxias, Nova Iguaçu, Belford Roxo, Niterói, São João de Meriti, Campos dos Goytacazes, Petrópolis, Volta Redonda, Magé, Itaboraí, Macaé, Mesquita, Cabo Frio, Nova Friburgo, Barra Mansa and Angra dos Reis.
Rio de Janeiro is the smallest state in the Southeast macroregion and one of the smallest in Brazil. It has, however, the third longest coastline in the country (second only to those of Bahia and Maranhão).
The state is part of the Mata Atlântica biome and is made up of two distinct morphological areas: a coastal plain, known as baixada, and a plateau, which are disposed in parallel fashion from the shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean inland towards Minas Gerais.
The coastline extends 635 kilometers and is formed by the bays of Guanabara, Sepetiba, and Ilha Grande. There are prominent slopes near the ocean, featuring also diverse environments, such as restinga vegetation, bays, lagoons and tropical forests.
Most of the state however consists of highlands, often higher than 1000 m, formed by several mountain chains like the Serra do Mar which separates Rio from the state of São Paulo. The highest point of the state, the Pico das Agulhas Negras (Black Needles Pëak) is located in the Serra da Mantiqueira which forms the physical border with neighbouring Minas Gerais.
Its principal rivers are the Guandu, the Piraí, the Paraíba do Sul, the Macaé and the Muriaé.
Tropical forests used to cover more than 90% of the territory of Rio; large portions were devastated for urbanization and for plantations (coffee, sugar cane); preserved areas can be found in the steepest parts of the mountain chains.
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, famous for its production.
The occasion of the last five days leading up to Lent is annually cause for a great explosion of joy in Rio – a round-the-clock party uniting emotions, creativity, plasticity, colours, sounds and much fantasy. It is the greatest popular party in the world, a unique record of the rich cultural melting pot typical of Brazil. In Rio, it is celebrated in various ways, most famously through the elaborate competition of samba schools comprising thousands of dancers in each school, each of which has composed a new "enredo de samba" (samba script) for the year that is released and popularized by the time Carnaval arrives, thus already recognizable for its lyrics, themes, and rhythms by the energized audience in the bleachers thronging to see the all-night competition of one samba school after another until dawn. Each samba school consists of 'alas' (wings) of samba dancers costumed to carry out one aspect of the theme of the song they all sing. This event began in the 1930s as a diversion for what politicians sought to assuage as an otherwise restive populace. It came to be held on the bleacher-lined Marques du Sapucai for decades until a covered Sambodromo was built in the 1980s.
In other parts of the city, Carnaval festivities include the Banda de Ipanema, a street parade of transvestite costuming that draws its throngs of revelers to the streets of Ipanema. In the city center on the final night of Carnaval, into the wee hours of Quarta Cinza (Ash Wednesday), a very different flavor of street parade is provided by Quilombo (the word given to slave refugee colonies) with authentic African costuming. For others, Carnaval is a time of clubbing in costume in more exclusive locales in the Zona Sul.
The film Black Orpheus is set in the context of Carnaval in Rio.
New Year's Eve
In Rio de Janeiro, a globally unique New Year's Eve celebration involves the whole city population. Local inhabitants and visitors join in flocking to the ocean to celebrate the night of the year when thanks are given and wishes are made to the goddess of the sea, Iemanja. In honor of her traditional garb, celebrants dress in white and bear gifts like flowers, especially white, and even blancmange. At midnight, beachgoers on the typically hot midsummer night, walk into the surf and cast their flowers (and wishes for the coming year) on the lapping waves to be carried out to honor the goddess. Nearby parties, concerts and music last into the dawn, many choosing to sleep it off on the beach on New Year's Day. In recent years, campfires and the oral tradition of shared stories around statues of Iemanja has modernized into massive fireworks displays and to a mega-concert on the famous beach of Copacabana.