2.2 Rapid expansion problems

One of the 22 federal states of Brazil is called Rio de Janeiro, but in this learning unit we are referring to the city of Rio de Janeiro, which was the capital city of Brazil until 1960. The harbour city of Rio de Janeiro, in Guanabara Bay, is the most important economic and financial centre of the country.


Module 6


Rio de Janeiro : one city ─ two worlds

Note: One of the 22 federal states of Brazil is called Rio de Janeiro, but in this learning unit we are referring to the city of Rio de Janeiro, which was the capital city of Brazil until 1960. The harbour city of Rio de Janeiro, in Guanabara Bay, is the most important economic and financial centre of the country.

Activity 1:

To do research on Rio de Janeiro and consult a number of sources

[LO 1.2, 1.5]

1. What does the name mean?

2. How did the city get this name?

3. What language is spoken by the majority of residents?

4. Longitude and latitude of the city:

5. The climate of the city:

6. Population of the city:

1. Rapid growth causes serious problems.

  • In 1969 the population was 4 million – this grew to 12 million in the following 30 years! When the population grows so rapidly – anywhere in the world – problems occur.
  • Brazil is not a rich enough country to provide houses for everyone who moves from the countryside to the city. Because many of these new inhabitants have moved to the city in search of a better life, it is obvious that they do not have money to build conventional houses. Much more than a house is needed: water and electricity must also be supplied. Then there is a need for sewerage and transport. This situation is more serious in many other developing countries and cities, because employment opportunities do not increase as rapidly as the population. This makes large-scale informal housing unavoidable – also in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Because of inadequate public transport, the informal settlements have developed close to the city centre and industrial areas, as in other countries.
  • About a quarter of Rio de Janeiro’s residents live in informal settlements, called favelas. The favelas are characterised by bad planning (often no planning), unhealthy living conditions and crime. The contrast in living conditions between the rich and the poor is more obvious in this city than in other cities with an exceptionally rapid growth rate. In one part of the city wealthy people live in big houses on large pieces of land. 5% of the city’s residents live on 25% of the city’s land.

Why has the influx of people into Rio de Janeiro been so rapid?

During the last part of the previous century, migration of people took place from isolated rural areas to urban areas – it seemed that people found the facilities and the attractions of the cities irresistible. Many people were convinced that the opportunities that could ensure the future of their children could only be provided in the cities. In Brazil this tendency was further influenced by droughts and other problems in the agricultural sector in the country’s interior.

Food factories, manufacturers of textile fabrics, electronic equipment and pharmaceuticals, as well as oil refineries, provide employment opportunities in Rio de Janeiro.

The worldwide phenomenon of a rapidly developing tourist industry is also evident in Rio de Janeiro – the city’s beaches and the natural beauty of the environment attract people from all over the world. Unfortunately the growth in employment opportunities in tourism and industry is not as fast as the population growth. The results are predictable.

Activity 2:

To investigate and think about the circumstances of the people of Rio de Janeiro

[LO 2.3]

  • Make a list of the reasons for the influx of job seekers into Rio de Janeiro:
  • Make a list of the most significant problems that new inhabitants of the city experience:
  • What would happen if a fire broke out in a favela?

Make a list of as many similarities as possible between the problems that people encounter in the cities of Africa and in Rio de Janeiro

Activity 3:

To discuss the influence of the climate of Rio de Janeiro

[LO 2.1, 2.2]

Determine the latitude of Rio de Janeiro and that will give you a reasonable idea of its climate. Consider the effect of the climate on the living conditions of both the poor and the wealthy inhabitants of the city.

Activity 4:

To discuss the following two problems

[LO 3.2]

A poor family leaves the Brazilian countryside to look for a better life for each member of the family in Rio de Janeiro, where the chances of a better life really are not good.

The circumstances of poor people looking for work in either Rio de Janeiro or any large city in South Africa are very similar.

Activity 5:

To suggest solutions to problems on poverty

[LO 3.3]

Consider the situation in Rio de Janeiro. For the poor the situation is bad. There

must be some sort of solution for the extreme poverty, the poor living conditions and the increasing levels of crime. What do you suggest?


Learning Outcomes(LOs)
LO 1
GEOGRAPHICAL ENQUIRYThe learner will be able to use enquiry skills to investigate geographical and environmental concepts and processes.
Assessment standards(ASe)
We know this when the learner:
  • identifies sources of information, including simple statistics, to help answer the question about a social or environmental issue or problem;
  • selects and records relevant information from sources for specific purposes (including recording and observing in the field);
  • reports on enquiries, through discussion, debate, structured writing, graphs, tables, maps and diagrams.
LO 2
GEOGRAPHICAL KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDINGThe learner will be able to demonstrate an environmental knowledge and understanding.
We know this when the learner:
  • explains why more people live in some places than others;
  • identifies how access to different kinds of resources influences development in different places;
  • describes some ways in which society has changed the environment.
LO 3
EXPLORING ISSUESThe learner will be able to make informed decisions about social and environmental issues and problems.
We know this when the learner:
  • identifies inequalities within and between societies;
  • analyses some of the factors that lead toward social and environmental inequality at different geographical scales and in different places;
  • evaluates actions that lead to the sharing of resources and reducing poverty in a particular context.




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