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Copacabana (Rio de Janeiro)

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Title: Copacabana (Rio de Janeiro)  
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Subject: Leme, Rio de Janeiro, Pacifying Police Unit, Fort Copacabana, Bairro de Fátima, Fazenda Botafogo
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Copacabana (Rio de Janeiro)

Copacabana is located in Rio de Janeiro
Location in Rio de Janeiro
Country  Brazil
State Rio de Janeiro (RJ)
Municipality/City Rio de Janeiro
Zone South Zone
Copacabana Beach in 1971
A view of the Copacabana beach from Sugarloaf
The Portuguese pavement wave pattern at Copacabana beach
Map of Copacabana
Copacabana at dusk
Fireworks during the celebrations of the New Year
The waters of Copacabana
Copacabana Beach during World Youth Day 2013.

Copacabana (local and standard Portuguese pronunciation:  or , rarely and in other Brazilian dialects) is a bairro (neighbourhood) located in the South Zone of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is known for its 4 km balneario beach, which is one of the most famous in the world.[1]


The district was originally called Sacopenapã (translated from the Tupi language, it means "the way of the socós (a kind of bird)") until the mid-18th century. It was renamed after the construction of a chapel holding a replica of the Virgen de Copacabana, the patron saint of Bolivia.[2]


Copacabana begins at Princesa Isabel Avenue and ends at Posto Seis (lifeguard watchtower Six). Beyond Copacabana, there are two small beaches: one, inside Fort Copacabana and other, right after it: Diabo ("Devil") Beach. Arpoador beach, where surfers used to go after its perfect waves, comes in the sequence, followed by the famous borough of Ipanema. The area will be one of the four "Olympic Zones" during the 2016 Summer Olympics.

According to Riotur, the Tourism Secretariat of Rio de Janeiro, there are 63 hotels and 10 hostels in Copacabana.[3]

Copacabana Beach

Copacabana beach, located at the Atlantic shore, stretches from Posto Dois (lifeguard watchtower Two) to Posto Seis (lifeguard watchtower Six). Leme is at Posto Um (lifeguard watchtower One). There are historic forts at both ends of Copacabana beach; Fort Copacabana, built in 1914, is at the south end by Posto Seis and Fort Duque de Caxias, built in 1779, at the north end. One curiosity is that the lifeguard watchtower of Posto Seis never existed.[4]

Hotels, restaurants, bars, night clubs and residential buildings dot the promenade.

Copacabana Beach plays host to millions of revellers during the annual New Year's Eve celebrations and, in most years, has been the official venue of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.

The beach is one of the many areas that suffers from the city's poor waste treatment. In its waters, 'fecal coliform bacteria sometimes spike at 16 times the Brazilian government’s “satisfactory” level.' [5]

Panorama of the Copacabana beach.

Copacabana promenade

The Copacabana promenade is a pavement landscape in large scale (4 kilometres long). It was completed in 1970 and has used a black and white Portuguese pavement design since its origin in the 1930s: a geometric wave. The Copacabana promenade was designed by Roberto Burle Marx

Living standard

Copacabana has the 11th highest Human Development Index in Rio, the 2000 census put the HDI of Copacabana at 0.902.[6]

The neighbourhood

According to the IBGE, 160,000 people live in Copacabana and 44,000 or 27.5% of them are 60 years old or older.[7][8] Copacabana covers an area of 7.84 km² which gives the borough a population density of 20,400 people per km².

Residential buildings eleven to thirteen stories high built right next to each other dominate the borough. Houses and two-story buildings are rare.

When Rio was the capital of Brazil this was considered one of the best neighborhoods in the country if not the best. Therefore the sea front apartments are extremely luxurious and classical. In the 1970s the neighborhood descended in the social scales and now is one of the most overcrowded in the planet. [1]


More than 40 different bus routes serve Copacabana,[9] as do three subway Metro stations: Cantagalo, Siqueira Campos and Cardeal Arcoverde.

Three major arteries parallel to each other cut across the entire borough: Avenida Atlântica (Atlantic Avenue), which is a 6-lane, 4 km avenue by the beachside, Nossa Senhora de Copacabana Avenue and Barata Ribeiro/Raul Pompéia Street both of which are 4 lanes and 3.5 km in length. Barata Ribeiro Street changes its name to Raul Pompéia Street after the Sá Freire Alvim Tunnel. Twenty-four streets intersect all three major arteries, and seven other streets intersect some of the three, but not all.

Notable events

  • On 26 April 1949, RMS Magdalena broke in two as she was being towed into Rio de Janeiro harbour. Much of her cargo of oranges was washed up upon the beach.
  • On December 31, 1994, the New Year's Eve celebrations featured a Rod Stewart concert with an attendance of 3.5 million, making it the largest concert crowd ever.[10] More recently, the beach has been a site for huge free concerts unrelated to the year-end festivities. On March 21, 2005, Lenny Kravitz performed there in front of 300,000 people, on a Monday night. On February 18, 2006, a Saturday, The Rolling Stones surpassed that mark by far, attracting over 1.5 million people to the beach.
  • On July 7, 2007, the beach hosted the Macy Gray, O Rappa and Pharrell as the main opening acts, on October 2, 2009, 100,000 people filled the beach for a huge beach party as the IOC announced Rio would be hosting the 2016 Olympics. 11 of the 15 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups have taken place here.
  • On July 28, 2013, the beach hosted the final event of the World Youth Day 2013. About 3 million people including 3 presidents joined Pope Francis when he celebrated the holy mass. This was one of the largest religious gatherings in history.
  • From May till July, 2014 the United Buddy Bears exhibit was held on the Copacabana promenade and attracted more than 1,000,000 people. The presentation consisted of more than 140 bear sculptures, each two metres high and designed by a different artist.[11]

New Year's Eve in Copacabana

The fireworks display in Rio de Janeiro to celebrate New Year's Eve is one of the largest in the world, lasting 15 to 20 minutes. It is estimated that 2 million people go to Copacabana Beach to see the spectacle. The festival also includes a concert that extends throughout the night. The celebration has become one of the biggest tourist attractions of Rio de Janeiro, attracting visitors from all over Brazil as well as from different parts of the world, and the city hotels generally stay fully booked.


New Year's Eve has been celebrated on Copacabana beach since the 1950s when cults of African origin such as Candomblé and Umbanda gathered in small groups dressed in white for ritual celebrations. The first firework display occurred in 1976, sponsored by a hotel on the waterfront and this has been repeated ever since. In the 1990s the city saw it a great opportunity to move around the city - organizing and expanding the event.

An assessment made during the New Year's Eve 1992 highlighted the risks associated with the dispersal of increasing crowd numbers on Copacabana beach after the fireworks display and as from the 1993/94 event concerts have been held on the beach to retain the public.

The result was a success with egress spaced out over a period of 2 hours without the previous turmoil although critics claimed that it denied the spirit of the New Year's tradition of a religious festival with fireworks by the sea. The following year Rod Stewart beat attendance records. Finally, the Tribute to Tom Jobim - with Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque, Paulinho da Viola... - consolidated the shows at the Copacabana Réveillon. There was a need to transform the fireworks display in a show of the same quality. The fireworks display was created by entrepreneurs Ricardo Amaral and Mariu's. From the previous 8–10 minutes the time was extended to 20 minutes and the quality and diversity of the fireworks was improved. A technical problem in fireworks 2000 required the use of ferries from New Year's Eve 2001/02. New Year's Eve began to compete with the Carnival has since 1992 become a tourist attraction in its own right.[12]

Fireworks in Copacabana.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Riotur
  4. ^ FUNCEB - Fundação Cultural Exército Brasileiro
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ Compilação de dados, informações e fatos sobre Copacabana - Copacabana.COM
  7. ^ jsessionid=D87126B13F258E820EA8A71A891194B3?id=8449
  8. ^ Veja Rio on-line
  9. ^ Rio Ônibus
  10. ^ "Rolling Stones hold giant Rio gig". London: BBC News. 19 February 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2009. 
  11. ^ Buddy Bears welcome Rio World Cup, May 2nd, 2014
  12. ^ Diário do Rio - A História do Réveillon de Copacabana

External links

  • History of Copacabana (in English)
  • Copacabana - Tropical Crime Noir
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