Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil (after So Paulo) and has a rapidly expanding population and rapidly growing area due to rapid urbanization.
Changing demographics the city of Rio de Janeiro
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 2.82 million international tourists a year. The city sports world-class hotels, approximately 80 kilometres of beaches and the famous Corcovado and Sugarloaf mountains. While the city had in past had a thriving tourism sector, the industry entered a decline in the last quarter of the 20th century. Annual international airport arrivals dropped from 621,000 to 378,000 and average hotel occupancy dropped to 50% between 1985 and 1993.
The fact that Braslia replaced Rio de Janeiro as the Brazilian capital in 1960 and that So Paulo replaced Rio as the country's commercial, financial and main cultural center during the mid-20th century, has also been cited as a leading cause of the decline. Rio de Janeiro's government has since undertaken to modernise the city's economy, reduce its chronic social inequalities, and improve its commercial standing as part of an initiative for the regeneration of the tourism industry.
The city is an important global LGBT destination, 1 million LGBT tourists visiting each year. The Rua Farme de Amoedo is located in Ipanema, a famous neighborhood in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro. The street and the nearby beach, famous tourist spots, are remarkable for their popularity in the LGBT community. Rio de Janeiro is the most awarded destination by World Travel Awards in the South American category of "best destination".
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 Pblico, 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.
The city has a history as host of major international sports events. The Ginsio do Maracanzinho was the host arena for the official FIBA Basketball World Championship for its 1954 and 1963 editions. Later, the Jacarepagu circuit in Rio de Janeiro was the site for the Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix from 1978 to 1989. Rio de Janeiro also hosted the MotoGP Brazilian Grand Prix from 1995 to 2004 and the Champ Car event from 1996 to 1999. WCT/WQS surfing championships were contested on the beaches from 1985 to 2001. The Rio Champions Cup Tennis tournament is held in the spring. As part of its preparations to host the 2007 Pan American Games, Rio built a new stadium, Estdio Olmpico Joo Havelange, to hold 45,000 people. It was named after Brazilian ex-FIFA president Joo Havelange. The stadium is owned by the city of Rio de Janeiro, but it was rented to Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas for 20 years. Rio de Janeiro has also a multi-purpose arena, the HSBC Arena.
The Brazilian Dance/Sport/Martial art Capoeira is very popular. Other popular sports are basketball, beach football, beach volleyball, Beach American Football, footvolley, surfing, kite surfing, hang gliding, motor racing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, sailing, and competitive rowing. Another sport that is highly popular in beaches of Rio is called "Frescobol" (pronounced [fekobw]), a type of beach tennis. Rio de Janeiro is also paradise for rock climbers, with hundreds of routes all over the city, ranging from easy boulders to highly technical big wall climbs, all inside the city. The most famous, Rio's granite mountain, the Sugar Loaf (Po de Acar), is an example, with routes from the easy third grade (American 5.4, French 3) to the extremely difficult ninth grade (5.13/8b), up to 280 metres (919 feet).
Horse racing events are held Thursday nights and weekend afternoons at the Jockey Club. An impressive place with excellent grass and dirt tracks, it runs the best horses in the nation. Hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro started in the mid-1970s and quickly proved to be well-suited for this town, because of its geography: steep mountains encounter the Atlantic Ocean, which provide excellent take-off locations and great landing zones on the beach.
One of the most popular sea sports in the city is yachting. The main yacht clubs are in Botafogo area that extends halfway between Copacabana and the center of town. Though the most exclusive and interesting is probably the Rio Yacht club, where high society makes it a point to congregate. Most yacht clubs are open to members only and gate crashing is not easy. Copacabana is also a great place to do surfing as well as "Arpoador of Ipanema" beach and "Praia dos Bandeirantes". The sea at these beaches is rough and dangerous, the best surfers from Brazil and other sites of the world come to these beaches to prove themselves.