Rio de Janeiro

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Geography & History

Founded in 1565 by the Portuguese, Rio de Janeiro served as the capital of Brazil for about four centuries (even after gaining its independence from its colonizers), until 1960, when the capital was transferred to Brasília.

As one of the biggest economic and cultural centers of South America, Rio de Janeiro City is located in the heart of the Southeast Region which concentrates 60% of Brazil's GDP. The cosmopolitan metropolis is known worldwide for its beauty and natural resources. Rio provides its residents and visitors with a smooth and pleasant ambience for leisure and work, which combined with its infrastructure, makes it an important center of commerce and services. Hosting many universities and institutes, it is the second-largest center of research and development in Brazil, accounting for 17% of national scientific output according to 2005 data. Occupying an area of 1,261 km2 extension, with a population of over 6 million inhabitants (in 2007), the City of Rio de Janeiro has recognized as one of its greatest virtues, the warmth and hospitality with which its people welcomes its visitors. Part of the city has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012 as a Cultural Landscape.

The City of Rio de Janeiro receives annually more than 2.0 million foreign tourists, which places it as the most visited city in the country, with an approximate share of 33% of foreign tourists. With its ample infrastructure of tourist services, the Rio de Janeiro City is ranked among the top destinations in the world at the reception of cultural, commercial, technical and scientific - fairs, symposiums, conferences and exhibitions. Its exuberant natural resources include 90 km of beaches, the Tijuca National Park, which includes the largest urban forest in the world, with 3,200 ha of forest. Some of the most famous landmarks include the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado mountain, named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; Sugarloaf Mountain with its cable car; the Sambódromo (Sambadrome), a permanent grandstand-lined parade avenue which is used during Carnival; and Maracanã Stadium, one of the world's largest football stadiums.

Rio de Janeiro was the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2016 Summer Paralympics, making the city the first South American and Portuguese-speaking city to ever host the events, and the third time the Olympics were held in a Southern Hemisphere city. The Maracanã Stadium held the finals of the 1950 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, and the XV Pan American Games.

Despite the high perception of crime, the city has a lower incidence of crime than Northeast Brazil, but it is far more criminalized than the south region of Brazil, which is considered the safest in the country.

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Climate

Rio de Janeiro is a subtropical city. Summer runs from December to March with temperatures ranging from 25°C (77°F) to 42°C (108°F); winter is from June to August, the temperature around 20°C (68°F) during the day, 16°C (60°F) at night.

Clothing

Sportswear predominates in Rio, although during working hours, men tend to wear a suit and tie and women thinner clothes. Few places in Rio require formal attire. For men slacks and sport shirt are sufficient; for women casual. A light jacket is enough for winter nights.

Power Supply

Electrical current is not standardized in Brazil and can be almost anywhere between 110V and 220V. However, many hotels and buildings will provide 220 volts. Power sockets are of type N, and most will take both round and flat prongs. Carry a converter and use a surge protector with electrical equipment.

 Safety

In this beautiful city, one needs to be concerned about safety especially whilst travelling on foot. It is necessary to take precautions whilst walking in crowded areas, as due to the poverty in the surrounding areas of the city, the crime rate is quite high. It is always good to keep valuable items, passport and additional cash in the hotel safe.

Barra da Tijuca area
This is the neighborhood where the ISRS meeting will be located. Although reaching it can be a little difficult (Barra is around 15 km away from Zona Sul), and going by taxi or booking a transfer can be very expensive (approx. 60-90 €), the distance from other neighborhoods is exactly what makes Barra da Tijuca beach less busy and less touristy than the South Zone beaches, like Ipanema, Copacabana or Leblon, which can easily be reached by anyone by bus or subway.

Barra is home to many luxury condominiums and large office complexes, making it an emerging spot for the rich and affluent. The neighborhood is also known for its American influenced lifestyle. Surfing, kite surfing and body surfing are popular sports here. It is one of the richest neighborhoods and is known for its public and private safety largely due to the lack of ghettos (favelas) in the area.

The beach is quiet, even during weekends, a totally family friendly atmosphere, cleaner water and sand than in any Zona Sul beaches and almost no crime along the year. Here you can relax without being paranoid that your things might be stolen, unlike elsewhere in the city.

Security Tips
Avoid travelling alone and if possible take local friends along with you while roaming on the streets, especially at night. It is advisable to avoid unnecessary exposure of valuable and expensive items in crowded areas. Do not carry valuable items like cameras, branded watches, credit cards and try to dress like a local Brazilian. At night it is not wise to travel in public transportation, a safer option is to call a taxi, and areas like subway stations should be avoided. It is always safer to visit city centers and famous tourist attractions in the daytime and dangerous areas should be avoided at night.

To arrange your transportation in and around Rio, you can contact the official congress supplier:

Do not leave any luggage unattended in a crowded area and/or famous tourist areas. For security reasons, it is good to take out money from ATM machines that are placed inside buildings, banks or shopping centers. Try to keep a distance and be aware of gang warfare, favelas, pickpockets and bag snatchers.

Police Station Tourist Service - DEAT
Address: Afrânio de Mello Franco, s / nº - Leblon.
22430-060 Rio de Janeiro - Brazil
Tel: (21) 2511-5112 / 3399-7170

Currency

Brazil's currency unit is the real (plural = reais). Most hotels, restaurants and stores in Brazil readily accept Visa and Master Card. The only problem with using credit cards is that most issuing banks will charge a foreign transaction fee of from 2 to 3% and may have additional fees. If this is of concern to you, you may want to check with the bank that issued your credit card before using it in Brazil.

Foreign exchange
At Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport, you will find several bank operated, money exchange booths just outside the immigration and customs area. Bank offices are available throughout the city and some hotels even offer currency exchange. Traveler's checks are almost impossible to use anywhere except the very largest cities, and even then, only at certain currency exchanges.

Normal banking hours in Brazil are from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Brazilian banks have literally thousands of ATM machines and many function 24 hours a day. At most Brazilian ATMs, you can use your bank debit card to obtain cash in reais. Caution: In addition to a 2 to 3% foreign transaction fee that the issuing bank may likely charge for cash withdrawals from an ATM when you use your Visa or MasterCard debit card, you may also be charged an additional fee or fees.

Taxes
Retail prices in Brazil include all taxes. (VAT is currently 17%).

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Tipping
Generally, tipping is not compulsory and also not expected from the local people. Service charges (around 10 %) are added to hotel or restaurant bills at the end. Additional tips can be given just to appreciate good service or to round up the bill to a whole number. Also, it is not obligatory to give tips to the taxi drivers. However, taxi drivers round up the fare as a tip for their services. Special or radio taxis do not use typical taximeters and always charge more than the original amount.

Telecommunications

Brazil has extensive fixed and cellular telephone systems which will allow you to call anywhere in the world. Some cellular phone companies in both North America and Europe offer worldwide service, including Brazil. Check with your cellular phone company before traveling. Almost all hotels have a telephone in the room where you can make local, intercity, interstate or international calls.

Internet service is readily available in Brazil. Many hotels include (or offer for an additional fee) high speed Internet access, if not in the room or wireless, then at least somewhere in the hotel.

 

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