What You Didn’t Know About Rio de Janeiro, Host of the 2016 Olympic Games

Carnival King Momo, Wilson Dias da Costa Neto, celebrates upon receiving the keys to the city
Carnival King Momo, Wilson Dias da Costa Neto, celebrates upon receiving the keys to the city
  1. Rio is named for a river that doesn’t exist. (Janeiro is January, which is when the Portuguese first arrived in that part of Brazil.)
  2. It was once part of a colony called Antarctic France. (The French apparently got there before the Portuguese.)
  3. The French once held it for ransom. (There be gold and diamonds in them thar hills!)
  4. It served as the capital of the Portuguese Empire for almost seven years.
  5. Its residents might be named for a house, or maybe a fish. (When citizens of Rio go out on the town to sing, you could say “Carioca go ka-ree-oh-kee”.)
  6. Its giant statue of Jesus is struck by lightning several times a year. (What exactly is God trying to say?)

    “Christ the Redeemer” overlooking Rio de Janeiro (© Danny Lehman/Corbis)
  7. For five days a year, the city is run by a mythical jester named King Momo.
  8. It hosted the world’s biggest soccer game.
  9. The city put QR codes in its mosaic sidewalks. (So those pictures of the ground are not accidental.)
  10. Street art is legal there. (Isn’t everything?)
  11. It has a Carmen Miranda Museum. (Now, that’s cool!)