Favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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A favela is the term for a shanty town in Brazil, most often within urban areas. The first favelas appeared in the late 19th century and were built by soldiers who had nowhere to live. Some of the first settlements were called bairros africanos (African neighbourhoods). This was the place where former slaves with no land ownership and no options for work lived. Over the years, many former black slaves moved in. Even before the first favela came into being, poor citizens were pushed away from the city and forced to live in the far suburbs. However, most modern favelas appeared in the 1970s due to rural exodus, when many people left rural areas of Brazil and moved to cities. Unable to find a place to live, many people ended up in a favela.

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Rocinha (little farm) is the largest favela in Brazil, and is located in Rio de Janeiro’s South Zone between the districts of São Conrado and Gávea. Rocinha is built on a steep hillside overlooking Rio de Janeiro, and is located about one kilometre from a nearby beach. Most of the favela is on a very steep hill, with many trees surrounding it. 69,356 (census 2010) people live in Rocinha, making it the most populous favela in Brazil.Although Rocinha is technically classified as a neighborhood, many still refer to it as a favela. It developed from a shanty town into an urbanized slum. Today, almost all the houses in Rocinha are made from concrete and brick. Some buildings are three and four stories tall and almost all houses have basic sanitation, plumbing, and electricity. Compared to simple shanty towns or slums, Rocinha has a better developed infrastructure and hundreds of businesses such as banks, medicine stores, bus lines, cable television, including locally based channel TV ROC (TV Rocinha), and, at one time, a McDonalds franchise. These factors help classify Rocinha as a favela bairro, or favela neighborhood.

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