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World Cup Wonders: 10 Amazing Facts about Rio!

Brazil are the hosts of the 2014 Fifa World Cup! But besides being known for their love of the greatest game on earth (football), what else are they known for? We take a look at some of the weirdest and wonderful facts about the home of Christ the Redeemer himself, Rio de Janeiro!

1) Rio de Janeiro actually translates to ‘January River’. Although weirdly enough Rio doesn’t actually have a river running through it, the name was given by mistake. Portuguese explorers who arrived in Brazil in 1501 confused the large bay of Brazil for the mouth of a large river, and as they arrived in January, what better name to call it than the January River. 

2) It’s a common misconception that Rio de Janeiro is the capital city of Brazil (much like how many people think that Sydney is the capital of Australia). The capital city is in fact Brasília. 

3) Christ the Redeemer (the large, 30m statue located on Corcovado mountain overlooking Rio) is considered to be 1 of the 7 wonders of the world, alongside the Pyramids, Taj Mahal, Colosseum, Great Wall of China, Chichen Itza and Machu Picchu.

4) Some of the most notable Rio de Janeiro-born football stars include Ronaldo, Romário, Zico and Jairzinho. Although Ronaldinho originates from Brazil, he was born in Porto Alegre, almost 1000 mile southwest of Rio. 

5) Rio is host to the largest party celebration in the world – CARNIVAL! This happens every year just before lent (unfortunately way before the World Cup kicks off). Carnival is renowned for its samba parade through the dedicated ‘sambadrome’, and has been described as being one of, if not the, biggest show on earth! 

6) Although Rio is known as the January River, its nickname is Cidade Maravilhosa (The Marvelous City).

7) Copacabana located on the south coast of the city has one of the highest population densities on the planet at around 25,000 people per km²!

8) One in five people who call Rio de Janeiro ‘home’ live in one of the many favelas (Brazilian slums) throughout the city. 

9) Rio has over 45 miles (74km) of cycle paths, with most running parallel to the long beaches on the coast. 

10) The Maracaná Stadium (with a current seating capacity of 78,838) holds the record for the largest attendance of any football match in history. 199,854 fans turned out for the 1950 World Cup Final between Brazil and Uruguay. The 2014 World Cup final will be held at the Maracaná Stadium, so it will be interesting to see how these figures compare!