FavelasApprox. Time: 4 hours
Activity Level: Easy to Moderate

Rio de Janeiro, like most third world cities, is experiencing a dramatic increase in population. This increase has come mostly in the form of the rural poor migrating to the cities. Because of the high land values and the enormous demand for space, these poor are forced into squatter settlements known as favelas. Named after the location of the first such settlement, the hill Morro da Favela, these settlements usually occur in two areas of Rio: one, along the steep hillsides or, two, along the outer fringes of urban expansion. The most famous favelas are those build along the hillsides (see the picture above). The houses are usually made first from wattle-and-daub, a mixture of sand and clay, and eventually to the use of wood, brick and sheet metal. One can tell the length of time that each family has lived in the favela by the type of material the ir house is made of and its location. Usually the first settle near the bottom of the hills and as time goes by the hill fills upward. Since their is no rent to pay, the money saved is used to purchase stronger materials such as brick and cinder blocks. These are then used to modify and solidify the structure. Houses are only upgraded if the site is safe from landslides and demolition by the city.

The first recorded favela was in the early 1920's, made up of about 839 of these houses, even though squatter settlements have existed in Rio since the late 1800's. The first of these favelas were located on the hillside because of no rent and their central location to the city, utilities and work. Today, there are over 500 favela communities existing within the city of Rio and comprise about a third of the total population.