Life Inside One of the Largest Favela in Rio de Janeiro

“A favela is the term for a slum 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. Census data released in December 2011 by the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) shows that in 2010, about 6 percent of the population lived in slums in Brazil. This means that 11.4 million of the 190 million people that lived in the country resided in areas of irregular occupation definable by lack of public services or urbanization, referred to by the IBGE as “subnormal agglomerations”. – Wikipedia


Residents (R to L) Luiza, Janubie, Leiticia and Lucas sit beneath an overpass near their houses in an impoverished area in the unpacified Complexo da Mare slum complex, one of the largest “favela” complexes in Rio de Janeiro. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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