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One of the major economic and cultural hubs of South America, the City of Rio de Janeiro sits at the heart of the Southeastern Region where 60% of the Brazilian GDP is concentrated. A cosmopolitan metropolis, known worldwide for its scenic beauty and its natural resources, the city provides a harmonious and agreeable environment for its inhabitants and visitors, for both leisure and work, which combined with its infrastructure, makes Rio an important center for commerce and services, with the advantage of a modern and diversified industrial sector. The City of Rio de Janeiro, which occupies an area of 1.261 Km2, and has a population around 6 million inhabitants, recognizes that one of its main virtues is the kindness and hospitality with which its residents welcome all visitors.

The city was founded by the Portuguese in an area originally occupied by Indians. Later the Africans were brought as slaves. And then the French, Italian, Jews, Japanese immigrants came, and out of the generosity of this land and the ethnic mixture, arose a happy-go-lucky people. A people who are so passionate about their love of things like soccer and samba, that a mere discussion looks like a fight, probably over a round of ice cold beer.

"Carioca". More than just a simple name for someone born in Rio de Janeiro, it is a state of mind. To be Carioca is to have a light spirit, to be naturally happy, friendly and well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but formal and informal ranking puts the Carioca in a privileged position on a world scale. If you have these characteristics, you can become a Carioca, even if you were born in São Paulo, Bahia, United States, Germany, France, Spain, United Kingdom etc...

Geographical Position: The city of Rio de Janeiro is situated at 22�54�23� latitude south and 43�10121� longitude west, in the municipality of the same name; it is the capital of the State of Rio de Janeiro and part of the Southeastern Region of Brazil. To the north it borders on several municipalities of the State of Rio de Janeiro. To the south lies the Atlantic Ocean, to the east Guanabara Bay (Baía de Guanabara) and to the west Sepetiba Bay (Baía de Sepetiba).

Dimensions:The municipality of Rio de Janeiro is 1,255,3km� in area, including the islands and continental waters. It measures 70km from east to west and 44km from north to south. The municipality is divided into 32 Administrative Regions with 159 districts.

Climate:Tropical, warm and humid, with local variations, due to differences in altitude, vegetation and proximity to the ocean; the average annual temperature is 22� Celsius, with daily averages high in summer (from 30� to 40�); rains vary from an annual 1,200 to 2,800 mm. In the four months of the so-called high summer � from December to March � the very hot days are followed by luminous evenings when heavy and rapid rains usually fall bringing relief and starlit nights.

General Information

Banks - Open weekdays from 10 am to 4 pm; they are closed on weekends and public holidays. Before departure from home, visitors are encouraged to check the acceptability of their credit and/or cash cards with their local bank. Automated teller machines (ATMs) can be found almost everywhere; some machines provide 24-hour cash withdrawal (R$) facilities for major credit cards.

Car Rentals - The main car rental companies have branches in Rio de Janeiro. Reservations should be made at the point of origin. Should the visitor require a rented car for a day or two during his stay, the Concierge of the hotel will be able to make the necessary arrangements.

Currency - The Brazilian currency is the Real (R$); there are 100 centavos in one Real. Coins issued by the government are either bronze-coloured for 1 centavo, silver for 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos and a nickel and bronze coin for R$1. R$1, R$2, R$5, R$10, R$20 R$50 and R$100 are the denominations of the notes. The value of the real against the US dollar varies according to the daily rate. Banks and exchange bureaux charge a commission on exchange transactions, which the visitor should check beforehand. As elsewhere, the rates of exchange for cash and travellers' cheques are marginally different, and coins are not exchangeable. Money changers are obliged by law to display net rates of exchange. Receipt notes must be issued by law; it is advisable to keep these until after departure.

Dress - Informality is the keynote in Rio de Janeiro in terms of dress. The use of jackets and ties for men is restricted almost exclusively to offices. A lightweight wrap or jacket is often needed as the major hotels, restaurants and bars, as well as the subway and most taxis, are air-conditioned.

Electricity - The voltage is 110 volts, 60 cycles. In most hotel bathrooms there is a 220-volt outlet.

Hours of Business - Office hours are usually from 9 am to 6 pm. Stores normally open at 9 am and close at 7 pm. Lunch is usually taken from 12 pm to 2 pm. Most offices are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Medical Services - Most hotels have immediate access to on-call 24-hour medical assistance. There are also many government and private hospitals with 24-hour emergency and out-patient departments. Many of Rio de Janeiro's doctors and dentists were trained or have undergone postgraduate training overseas. All hotels have lists of recommended medical services.

Postal Services - The Brazilian postal services meet all international standards, and there are many post offices around the city. They are closed on Sundays and public holidays. Most hotels offer postal facilities for guests' letters and packages and a packing service.

Safety and Security - As in any city in the world of the size of Rio de Janeiro, the key to an uneventful stay is to protect yourself from pickpockets and carry as little cash and as few valuables as possible. The Rio de Janeiro military police and the municipal guard corps have stations and reporting centres. In case of need, do contact the hotel Front Desk for guidance and assistance.

Shopping - Credit Cards and Cheques American Express, VISA, Diner's Club and MasterCard are accepted at the majority of shops, although it is always a good idea to confirm this before buying. Occasionally a small discount is offered on cash sales. Personal cheques drawn on overseas banks are not accepted. Generally speaking, travellers� cheques are welcome. Visitors are encouraged to check the daily dollar rate at their hotels before going on a spree.

Exchanges and Refunds - Check with the salesperson as to the store's policy on exchanges and refunds. In most shops, it may be possible to exchange goods, but refunds are rarely if ever made.

Guarantees and Receipts - When buying expensive photographic, electronic or electrical goods, always ensure that the guarantee card is filled in, stamped and returned to you. Check the manual accompanying the item in question to ascertain that the guarantee will be honored outside Brazil. In all transactions involving larger sums of money, ask for the official, detailed bill of sale; in all transactions, keep the customer copy of the credit card bill. Tax Free shopping in Brazil is restricted to the airports.

Cashing money with Credit or Bank Card - Visa card holders may withdraw cash from the Banco do Brasil and Banco Ita�. Card holders with a PIN number may obtain cash from the 24-hour machines; those without will have to await verification, available from 10 am to 4 pm. MasterCard holders with a PIN number may obtain cash from any 24-hour machine which lists CIRRUS among its participating banks. Cash withdrawals on American Express card: Call 0800-785050.

Subway System - Rio de Janeiro's subway is safe, efficient and easy to use. Tickets are for one, two or ten rides. Tickets are bought at the counter, as there are no ticket issuing machines. There three stations in Copacabana: Cardeal Arco Verde, Siqueira Campos e Cantagalo Metr� stations, each of them located four blocks from the beach. The Metro is a great boon to adventurous visitors; Catete, Glória, Cinelândia, Carioca and Uruguaiana stations are those closest to the city's principal historical and cultural attractions. There is also the "Metro na Superfície" which connects, without any additional cost, the Siqueira Campos Station to the districts of Gavea, via Ipanema and Leblon.The Botafogo Station is connected to Gávea via the districts of Humait� and Jardim Botânico. The "Metr� Barra" connects the Siqueira Campos Station to the Alvorada Terminal in the district of Barra da Tijuca, going through the São Conrado district, with routes via Av. das Américas and Av.Sernambetiba.

Telecommunications - Brazil is connected to all appropriate international telephone and satellite communications systems, providing trouble-free connections to virtually anywhere in the world. Most hotels provide guest room International Direct Dial (IDD) services; some hotels have in-room Internet hook-up and fax machines. Others offer this service through their Concierge or Business Center. Outside hotels, long-distance calls can be made from IDD payphones or cardphones in various locations. Telemar also provides service at certain hours of the day at their Copacabana and Ipanema offices. The push-button call-home system, providing immediate connection to the operator of the country required is also available. For information about dial access and IDD phone locations, contact the hotel operator. Not all local calls from private phones are free. However, shops, restaurants and bars without payphones will eventualy permit free use of their phones.

Water - Rio de Janeiro's water supply conforms to international standards; due to the pronounced taste of chlorine in the water it is advisable to drink bottled mineral water.

Source: Riotur and RC&VB