Rio de Janeiro, or simply Rio, is the capital of the state of the same name (Brazil's third most populous state), and the second most populous city in Brazil, after Sao Paulo. Rio de Janeiro is the sixth most populous city in the Americas. Part of the city has been designated as a World Heritage Site, named "Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea" as a Cultural Landscape. Founded in 1565 by the Portuguese, the city was initially the seat of the Captaincy of Rio de Janeiro, a domain of the Portuguese Empire. In 1763, it became the capital of the State of Brazil, a state of the Portuguese Empire. In 1808, when the Portuguese Royal Court moved to Brazil, Rio de Janeiro became the seat of the court of Queen Maria I of Portugal. She subsequently, under the leadership of her son the prince regent John VI of Portugal, raised Brazil to the dignity of a kingdom, within the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and Algarves. Rio remained as the capital of the pluricontinental monarchy until 1822, when the Brazilian War of Independence began. This is one of the few instances in history that the capital of a colonizing country officially shifted to a city in one of its colonies. Rio de Janeiro subsequently served as the capital of the independent monarchy, the Empire of Brazil, until 1889, and then the capital of a republican Brazil until 1960 when the capital was transferred to Brasilia.
Rio de Janeiro has the second largest municipal GDP in the country, and 30th-largest in the world. In the city are the headquarters of Brazilian oil, mining, and telecommunications companies, including two of the country's major corporations, Petrobras and Vale, and Latin America's largest telemedia conglomerate, Grupo Globo. The home of many universities and institutes, it is the second-largest center of research and development in Brazil. Despite the high perception of crime, the city actually has a lower incidence of crime than most state capitals in Brazil. Rio de Janeiro is a main cultural hub in Brazil. Its architecture embraces churches and buildings dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries, blending with the world-renowned designs of the 20th century. Rio was home to the Portuguese Imperial family and capital of the country for many years, and was influenced by Portuguese, English, and French architecture.
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most visited cities in the Southern Hemisphere and is known for its natural settings, carnival, samba, bossa nova, and balneario beaches such as Barra da Tijuca, Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon. In addition to the beaches, some of the most famous landmarks include the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado mountain, named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; Sugarloaf Mountain with its cable car; the Sambodromo, a permanent grandstand-lined parade avenue which is used during Carnival; and Maracanã Stadium, one of the world's largest football stadiums. Rio de Janeiro was the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2016 Summer Paralympics, making the city the first South American and Portuguese-speaking city to ever host the events, and the third time the Olympics were held in a Southern Hemisphere city.
Rio de Janeiro is near the west end of a strip of Brazil's Atlantic coast close to the Tropic of Capricorn where the shoreline is oriented east and west; the city thus faces largely south. It was founded at the entrance to an inlet, Guanabara Bay, which is marked by a point of land called Sugar Loaf. The Centro, Rio's downtown core, lies on the plains of the western shore of Guanabara Bay. The greater portion of the city, commonly referred to as the North Zone extends to the northwest on plains composed of marine and continental sediments, and on hills and several rocky mountains. The South Zone of the city, which includes beaches on the open sea, is cut off from the center and from the North Zone by coastal mountains – offshoots of the Serra do Mar, the ancient gneiss-granite mountain chain that forms the southern slopes of the Brazilian Highlands. The large West Zone of the city, long cut off by the mountainous terrain, was made more easily accessible from the South Zone by the construction of roads and tunnels during the 20th century.
The city has parks and ecological reserves such as the Tijuca National Park, the world's first urban forest and UNESCO Environmental Heritage and Biosphere Reserve; Pedra Branca State Park, which houses the highest point of Rio de Janeiro, the peak of Pedra Branca; the Quinta da Boa Vista complex; the Botanical Garden; Rio's Zoo; Parque Lage; and the Passeio Público, the first public park in the Americas. In addition the Flamengo Park is the largest landfill in the city, extending from the center to the south zone, and containing museums and monuments, in addition to much vegetation. Rio de Janeiro is Brazil's primary tourist attraction and resort. It receives the most visitors per year of any city in South America with 2.8 million international tourists a year. The city boasts world-class hotels, like Belmond Copacabana Palace, approximately 80 kilometers of beaches and the famous Corcovado, Sugarloaf mountains and Maracana Stadium. Rio de Janeiro is an international hub of highly active and diverse nightlife with bars, dance bars and nightclubs staying open well past midnight.
The Port of Rio de Janeiro is Brazil's third busiest port in terms of cargo volume, and it is the center for cruise ships. Located on the west coast of the Guanabara Bay, it serves the States of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Espírito Santo. In Rio de Janeiro, buses are the main form of public transportation. There are nearly 440 municipal bus lines serving over four million passengers every day, in addition to intercity lines. Although cheap and frequent, Rio's transportation policy has been moving towards trains and subway in order to reduce surface congestion and increase carrier capacity. The Rio de Janeiro Metro has three subway lines with 58 km (36 mi) and 41 stations plus several commuter rail lines. The Metro is Rio's safest and cleanest form of public transport in the city. The city also has a commuter rail system operated by SuperVia that connects the city of Rio with other locations in Greater Rio de Janeiro with surface trains. It has 8 lines and 270 km (168 mi), with 102 stations. It carries around 750,000 passengers a day on a railroad network comprising 104 stations in 12 cities.