Few cities embody the personality of their country better than Rio does for Brazil. The Marvellous City has come to be synonymous with laid-back Brazilian beach culture, its contagious and irrepressible spirit, breathtaking scenery and social complexities. Rio is a city of icons; Christ the Redeemer, the cable cars of Sugarloaf Mountain, the world famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema and the Maracanã stadium. It also enjoys the most envious setting of any metropolis the world over, with a beautiful huge lagoon, flanked to the east by the Guanabara Bay and to the south by the Atlantic Ocean, and extending between enormous granite peaks and wide sandy beaches.
From 1808 to 1821 the Portuguese Royal Family moved to Rio, fleeing the Napoleanic Wars in Europe and making it the capital of the Empire. This move paved the way for a number of royal palaces to be built, both within Rio and the summer residences at Petropolis, and the establishment of the Royal Library, the academy of Fine Arts, the Botanical Gardens and the Bank of Brazil, as well as holding a Royal Wedding and a Coronation. This importance led to Rio remaining the capital of Brazil through its independence, until 1960. This legacy can still be seen today, away from the famous beaches. The 'cariocas', residents of Rio, are a lively, friendly people and the city is constantly buzzing with life.
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