Rio de Janeiro

Perched in one of the world's most beautiful settings, Rio de Janeiro is a bustling metropolis populated by more than seven million Cariocas, as the locals call themselves.

What is special or unique about your city?
Perched in one of the world's most beautiful settings, Rio de Janeiro is a bustling metropolis populated by more than seven million Cariocas, as the locals call themselves. The city is also referred to as the Cidade Maravilhosa (or Marvelous City), an apt title for a place wedged between an ocean and an escarpment. Within its limits, the Cariocas pursue happiness passionately, enjoying music, sunshine, sports and the local firewater, cachaça.

The beach, a ritual and a way of life for the Cariocas, is Rio's common denominator. Copacabana is probably the world's most famous beach and runs for 4.5 km (3 miles) in front of one of the most densely populated residential areas on the planet. From the scalloped beach, you can see the granite slabs that surround the entrance to the bay. Ipanema is Rio's richest and most chic beach. Other beaches within and near the city include Pepino, Barra da Tijuca, Flamengo (though the water is a bit suspect there) and Arpoador.

Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) is God's gift to the picture-postcard industry. Two cable cars climb 396 m (1,300 feet) above Rio and the Baía de Guanabara. From the top, Rio is the most beautiful city in the world. The 120 sq km (47 square mile) Parque Nacional de Tijuca, 15 minutes from the concrete jungle of Copacabana, is all that's left of the tropical jungle that once surrounded Rio. The forest is an exuberant green, with beautiful trees and waterfalls.

What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Once the initial shock of the trip from the airport to city wears off, most newcomers will be struck by the beautiful scenery, the joie de vivre of the people and, of course, the beach.

Are these impressions likely to change?
Not really. Rio is every bit as lovely as it first appears.

What is the local language? 
The official language of Brazil is Portuguese.

Away from the big cities, most Brazilians have little or no command of English. Many are able to understand Spanish, however, due to the similar nature of the two Latin-based languages. In a São Paulo business setting, it is more likely that a Paulistano will speak English instead of Spanish as a second language. In general, Brazilians look favorably upon any effort to communicate with them in their native language.

How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language? 
It is recommended that you acquire at least a basic knowledge of Portuguese prior to departure. Once in Brazil, enrolling in language classes is encouraged. Below are some commonly-used Portuguese expressions that you might find helpful:

Good morning = Bom Dia
Good Afternoon = Boa Tarde
Goodbye = Tchau
Please = Por favor
Thank you = Obrigado/a
Yes = Sim
No = Não

What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city? 
There are no fixed rules. Brazilians are open people. But, as always, you can't go wrong by simply exercising basic courtesy.

How might the local weather affect my daily life? 
Brazil's climate is most influenced by its proximity to the equator. Throughout the country, temperatures seldom rise above 35ºC (95ºF), due to the moderating effect of high levels of atmospheric humidity. The summer months, November through March, tend to be hot and humid with abundant rainfall. Summer temperatures range from 19ºC to 27ºC (66ºF to 81ºF). During the winter, the temperature varies between 15ºC and 25ºC (59ºF and 77ºC). During this season, the city is sometimes influenced by cold low-pressure systems from the Atlantic, which can sometimes cause the temperature to drop.

Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people? 
Overall, living in Brazil will undoubtedly be a challenging and rewarding experience. Learn as much as you can and make the most of it!

One note of caution: Drinking tap water should be avoided, even in big cities. Bottled water should be consumed at all times.