The second capital of Brazil and the current seat of the state government, the city of Rio de Janeiro is home to the largest Brazilian postcard: Christ the Redeemer, one of the seven wonders of the modern world, and also stands out for its oil sector.
According to paradisdachat, the territory of Rio de Janeiro was baptized on January 1, 1502, when the members of the expedition of Gonçalo Coelho and Américo Vespúcio saw the bay of Guanabara and thought they were in front of the mouth of a river. Almost three decades later, in 1531, Martim Afonso de Souza undertook an expedition to recognize the region. But he was unable to expel the French privateers who, clandestinely, removed brazilwood from the Rio de Janeiro coast.
Concerned about the problem, the governor-general of Brazil, Tomé de Souza, recommended in 1552 that there be a “good and honorable” settlement in those lands, as it was the favorite spot on the Brazilian coast of the French.
In 1555, the authorities established in Salvador were informed that the French, led by Vice Admiral Villegaignon, had founded a colony in Guanabara Bay, Antarctic France . For the defense of the occupied lands, the fort of Coligny was built. In two years, more than three hundred Calvinist (Protestant) settlers arrived.
In 1560, a new governor-general, Mem de Sá, came to power, with express orders to expel the French from Rio de Janeiro. After numerous battles, the French fortifications were destroyed, but many of them remained in the region, aided by the Tamoio Indians.
To take over the Portuguese occupation permanently, Estácio de Sá, nephew of the governor-general, founded the city of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro on the banks of Guanabara Bay. After intense fighting with the tamoios and their French allies, the nucleus was transferred to the castle’s momo. From that point, an area of six square leagues was delimited, which gave rise to the Royal captaincy of Rio de Janeiro.
In the eighteenth century, when the gold cycle began in Minas Gerais, the city of Rio de Janeiro became the main port of entry for supplies to supply the mining region, in addition to being the exit port for the gold that went to the metropolis.
In 1763, the capital was transferred from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro. Despite the decline of mining in the late 18th century, the city once again gained prominence with the arrival of the Portuguese royal family in 1808.
View of Rio de Janeiro and Guanabara Bay. In the foreground, the cable car to the Sugarloaf Mountain, and centered in the background, the statue of Christ the Redeemer.
First economic activities
The arrival of the prince-regent Dom João VI, son of the queen Dona Maria I, brought great impetus to Rio de Janeiro. Colleges and hospitals were built, and the city started to host all administrative and justice bodies.
Although independence was declared in São Paulo, it was in Rio de Janeiro that Dom Pedro I received the crown of emperor of Brazil.
In the interior of the province of Rio de Janeiro, a new and important economic cycle in the country began. The coffee cultivation developed in the Paraíba Fluminense valley provided great prosperity during the second reign. In 1854, the province housed the country’s first railway, which connected the port of Mauá, now Magé, to the so-called root of Serra da Estrela, on the way to Petrópolis.
The coffee plantations occupied then extensive areas next to the municipalities of Barra do Pirai, Valença, Vassouras, Resende, among others. But the abolition of slavery in 1888 contributed to a serious crisis in the sector, which had to face the shortage of labor added to the depletion of the soil.
In parallel with coffee production, the region experienced, from the second half of the 19th century, a strong stimulus to the industrial sector, which allowed it to enter the 20th century with the highest concentration of this sector in Brazil. However, in the second half of the last century, the production of Rio de Janeiro was surpassed by that of the state of São Paulo. Despite this, the state maintained a prominent role in the national industrial sector.
The transfer of capital
Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil from 1763 until 1960, when the seat of national power was transferred to Brasília. The idea of transferring the country’s capital to the interior dates from the 18th century, when the Marquis of Pombal expressed his concern for the safety of the colony’s capital.
His ideas were taken up again in 1821 by statesman José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva, who even suggested the name Brasília. In 1891, the first Constitution of the Republic came to delimit the official place that should have housed the new capital, but the project only came to fruition during the government of Juscelino Kubitschek .