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Afghanistan - Moving stories
Brazil cityscapes - Rio de Janeiro
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Brazil cityscapes - Rio de Janeiro

What images do you have of Brazil? Carnival, football and coffee? Did you know that Brazil is urban, that more than a dozen of its cities have more than a million residents, that migration from the countryside to the cities has been the main trend for the last few years, and that Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo have two of the longest and cleanest subways in the world?

Rio de Janeiro is one of the wolrd's most famous cities. The people of Rio call their city, the cidade maravilhosa, the marvellous city. The story of Rio is a tale of two cities. The Serra divide the city into two halves. To the north, the zona norte is the home to poorer communities that live in the polluted industrial region. Richer residents live between the mountains and the sea in the zona sul. Elsewhere, poorer people live in housing areas built illegally on hillsides or in ravines. These shanty towns or favelas are scattered across the city.

Key questions

  • How has Rio de Janeiro developed?
  • Why do people move to the city?
  • What are the inequalities in Rio de Janerio?
  • Who makes the decisions about the city's future?


These factsheets provide background information to each of the key questions. They can be used together with the associated downloadable activities to investigate each area.


Find out more about the images in the gallery above PDF | MSWORD

Online activity

Want to find out more about the historical development of Rio de Janeiro? Please take a look at this clip.

Downloadable activities

The downloadable activities used with the associated factsheets can be used in the classroom to investigate each area.


  • The Embassy of Brazil: this website has sections on Brazil in the School for primary and secondary schools with useful resources and quizzes
  • Cool Planet: facts and figures about Brazil from Oxfam's website for schools. Information on history, geography and environment and people and society
  • Geography in the News: see the feature about Rocinha favela in Shack Attacks from the website from the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)
  • Mega Cities Project: a non-profit organisation that looks at how communities are working together to decide on solutions to urban problems in Rio de Janeiro

Supported by:

Heritage Lottery Fund Esmee Fairbairn Foundation John Lyon's Charity

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