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Rio De Janerio Cruises

For over half a century, Rio has ranked as a favorite destination forvisitors from all over the world.The combination of a dark blue seastudded with rocky islands and a backdrop of green clad mountains makesfor a magnificent setting. In addition, the city exudes an air ofexuberance that is hard to find elsewhere. Cariocas, as Rio natives arecalled, are fun loving people, embracing the entire world with theirhappy, vibrant rhythms.

Rio's history effectively began on January1, 1502, when a Portuguese captain, Andre Goncalves, steered hiscraft into Guanabara Bay. Thinking he was heading into the mouth of agreat river, he named the city Rio de Janeiro, or 'River of January.'Initial progress in Rio was slow since Salvador in the north was thecenter of the new Portuguese colony. In the 1690s, when gold wasdiscovered in the neighboring state of Minas Gerais, Rio's fortunesbegan to look up, as it became the control and taxation center for thegold trade. During the 17th century, the sugar cane economy brought newwealth to Rio. In 1763, the city replaced Salvador as Brazil's capital.It remained the capital until 1960 when the country's politicaladministration was moved to the newly established federal capital of Brasilia.

Rio's cultural diversity has derived from its nearly500-year history. By the 18th century, the majority of the city'sinhabitants were African slaves. Unlike other foreign colonies,miscegenation became the rule rather than the exception in Brazil.Virtually nothing in Rio remained untouched by African customs, beliefsand behavior. This state of affairs clearly carried over into today'sway of life as evidenced in its mixture of Afro-Brazilian music,spiritualistic cults and exotic cuisine. It is this intriguing blendthat creates an atmosphere exclusive to Rio. Its culmination can beexperienced in the annual celebration of the spectacular Carnival.

Today,with the center rebuilt many times since colonial days, the majorinterest lies in the beach communities south of the city center ratherthan in Rio's buildings and monuments. For some 60 years, the beachdistricts of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon have been Rio's heart andsoul, providing a constant source of recreation to maintain the city'sfame as the most dynamic and captivating tourist capital in SouthAmerica.

Caution: As in many large cities, pickpockets andpurse-snatchers are a problem. To avoid unpleasant encounters, do notwear jewelry, expensive watches or carry large amounts of money whenashore in Rio.