Rio de Janeiro was founded on January 1, 1502 when Portuguese explorers arrived in Guanabara Bay. Because they considered the bay as a river’s mouth, the site was named after it and the day they set their feet on it, thus, Rio de Janeiro or River of January in English.
Aside from the Portuguese, French traders inhabited the area in Guanabara Bay as a strategic and economic move to secure their hold in Brazil. Unfortunately, when they lost the battle after two years (1565-67), they were kicked off the area and the original site of Rio was transferred to a hill, known now as Castle Hill, to protect the area for invasions in the future.
Rio prospered on the export of sugar cane, but when diamonds and gold were found in the area of Mines Gerais, its economy boomed and its prominence increased. From Salvador, the capital of Brazil was then moved to Rio in 1973.
When the country became a republic in 1889, Rio started to develop as a modern city. The destruction of the Central Zone paved way to the creation of widened avenues and newer buildings.
The power of Brazil may have had focused too much in Rio that in the 1960s, in an attempt to decentralize power in Rio, its title as capital – along with the political power – was transferred to Brasilia.
Although much was lost in the move, Rio de Janeiro has still been contributing a lot in strengthening the economy of Brazil.