Rio de Janeiro ("River of January" in English), is the second largest city of Brazil and South America, behind São Paulo, and the third largest metropolitan area in South America, behind São Paulo and Buenos Aires. The city is capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro. It was the capital of Brazil for almost two centuries, from 1763 to 1822 while it was a Portuguese colony and from 1822 to 1960 as an independent nation. It was the capital of the Portuguese Empire from 1808 to 1821. Commonly known as just Rio, the city is also nicknamed A Cidade Maravilhosa, or "The Marvelous City".
Rio de Janeiro is famous for its natural settings, its Carnival celebrations, samba and other music, and hotel-lined tourist beaches, such as Copacabana and Ipanema, paved with decorated black and cream swirl pattern mosaics known locally as "pedra portuguesa". Some of the most famous local landmarks in addition to the beaches include the giant statue of Jesus, known as Christ the Redeemer ('Cristo Redentor') atop Corcovado mountain, which has recently been named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; Sugarloaf mountain (Pão de Açúcar) with its cable car; the Sambódromo, a giant permanent parade stand used during Carnival and Maracanã stadium, one of the world's largest football stadiums.
The city also boasts the largest and second largest urban forests in the world: Floresta da Tijuca, or "Tijuca Forest". and (almost connected to the first) the forest in Parque Estadual da Pedra Branca, or White Stone State Park. Galeão - Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport connects Rio de Janeiro with many Brazilian cities and also operates several international flights.
Despite its charm and beauty, Rio is reputed to be one of the most violent cities in the world and motivated movies such as Bus 174, City of God and Elite Squad portraying severe social issues. Much of the violent crime is concentrated in the "favelas," or shantytowns. But it also spills into middle- and upper-income neighborhoods. In Rio, unlike other major cities, many of the slums are directly adjacent to some of the wealthiest areas of the city.