Chit-Chat: Rio that isn’t rio (a river)


The origin of the name Rio de Janeiro

The Portuguese arrived in Rio de Janeiro on 1 January 1502 on a voyage to explore the recently discovered country of Brazil. In commemoration of this date, they named the bay where they had landed Rio de Janeiro, thinking it was a river (rio in Portuguese).

The place was called São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, as the date coincided with Catholic Saint’s Day. Despite being the patron saint of the Marvelous City to this day, São Sebastião disappeared from the name, and Rio remained.


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