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Urbanisation/ Counter-Urbanisation in Rio Da Janeiro (Ledc)

By virtualreality Mar 04, 2013 1386 Words

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The city of Rio de Janeiro is located on Brazil's south-east coast. It has a population of approximately 11.7 million people, making it one of Brazil's largest settlements. The number of inhabitants has grown for a number of reasons.

Firstly, natural increase (this is when the birth rate is higher than the death rate). Secondly, is the term ‘urbanisation’. This is where, over time millions of people have relocated from rural areas into the city of Rio. 65% of urban growth is a result of this movement, often caused by a variety of ‘push and pull factors’.


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‘Urbanisation’ is the process whereby the percentage of people living in towns and cities increases above those who live in rural areas. According to Duddin, 1996 ‘as the world’s population has grown the proportion of people living in towns and cities have also increased’.


• The movement of people (migration) from rural to urban areas exceeds that of residents from the urban to rural.

• Life expectancy is greater in urban than that of rural neighbourhoods. Resulting in more people living in the urban area. There is often better access to medical care and other services than rural parts.

• Natural population increase is greater in urban than in rural areas, which leads to a rapid increase in urban population.

• Urbanisation is happening on a global scale. Below are indicators of its ever changing progression.

• In 1900 only 10% of the world population lived in urban areas (class notes).

• Whereas, today a staggering 47% of the world population lead an urban lifestyle. (Class notes).

People migrate into cities for diverse reason, these are known as ‘Urban pull factors’. Moving into the city can mean better career prospects, salary increase and more reliable sources of food and housing. This can positively change their way of life.

Overcrowding in the city leads to other problems, some of which have very severe and detrimental effects on the environment, housing and general well being of its inhabitants. A few examples of these are increased pollution, traffic congestion not to mention the increase in crime rate. This makes it an unhealthy and difficult place to live.


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This involves people abandoning cities in favour of rural areas. Nonetheless, although people may relocate, they tend to continue with habits and lifestyles used in their previous urban environments. According to Flint (2001, p.12) “there is though a pattern of inner city decline and growth of population in small towns and villages in the countryside”.

Two of the factors that encourage this process:

1. Easier movement as a result of rising car ownership and construction of motorways.

2. Developments in information technology and telecommunication which allow people to communicate easily over long distances.


There is no single, simple reason why people are leaving large cities and moving to smaller towns and villages. It is in fact a combination of factors that according to Flint (2001, p.129) include:

• Improvements in transport, especially the construction of new motorways and/ or rail routes that enable longer- distance commuting;

• People’s perceptions of the differences in quality of life between the city and smaller towns and villages;

• Improvements in health, education and social services.

Due to the recent and rapid growth there has been a severe shortage of housing forcing people to live in overcrowded Favelas (temporary accommodation). Nearly 20% of Favelas are built using mainly scrap bits of metal and bits of wood. Some of which have no sanitation facilities, water or electricity. Favelas are located on the very edge of the city, very close and visible from all the lavish hotels located towards the outskirts of the city.

There for a number of reasons:

Industrial companies are located on the edge of the city
People locate nearer to where there is work, e.g. factories. It is the only available land within the cities limits

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It is sometimes difficult to define where urban areas begin or end. As there are no existing, clear boundaries between the rural and urban zone.

‘The belief that between the truly rural and the truly urban is many shades of ‘grey’ Within Rio de Janeiro, there are no clear boundaries between favelas and the main part of the city. These changes are seen as a continuum (as can be seen from the above photograph).



Urban use models are theories which attempt to explain the layout of urban areas. The urban use model above is one which reflects a rough layout of Rio de Janeiro. The text below gives an explanation for each section of the model:


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Located on the edge of the city.
Known as squatter settlements or shanty towns


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• Found around the edge of CBD. A spine sticking out towards the edge of the urban area.

• A main transport route and street. People living here need easy access to the CBD. Although, transport networks- not as well developed.

• Housing- a mix of old colonial houses, large apartments. Both of which will have space for servants.


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• Often the oldest part of the city. With facilities e.g. hotels, offices, schools etc.

• A more dramatic difference between the heights of the buildings in the CBD vs. The height of the buildings in other zones.


Source taken from: Waugh, D. (2003) The New Wider World, Second Edition: Nelson Thorns LTD

The above source shows how favelas are built on upon steep hillsides. This is mainly due to sanitation reasons, as waste flows down the hill. The ironic thing is people favour the bottom of the hillsides. As they are closest to the main roads and water supply (if available). The danger that building on these steep slopes presents is a major cause for concern. This in turn leads to an array of other unavoidable problems. For example, when the area has been faced with substantial amounts of rain, flash floods occur. This can leave devastating consequences. Often carrying away the favela housing with its natural force.



• Andrew Downie (2010) Favelas [online]. Available from: [Accessed: 27th March 2012]

• BBC Bitesize (2012) [online]. Available from: [Accessed: 8 th February 2012]

• Brazil Housing (2006) [Online]. Available from: Accessed: 21 st February 2012]

• Endangered Eden (2009) [online]. Available from: [Accessed 4th April 2012]

• Igougo (2007) Rio de Janeiro journal. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 4th April 2012]

• Internet Geography (2008) Urbanisation. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 21 st February 2012]

• Jumping Polarbear (date?) [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 21st February 2012]

• Macalester Education [online]. Available from: [Accessed: 24th March 2012]

• Opengecko (1999) Geography [online]. Available from: [Accessed: 24th March 2012]

• Orbville (2007) Rio Photos [online]. Available from: [Accessed: 24th March 2012]

• Sixth Sense Form College (2005) Geography. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 4th April 2012]


▪ Class notes from January to February 2012

▪ Drake G. and Lee C. (2000) The Urban Challenge. London: Hodder and Stoughton

▪ Duddin, M. (1996) Urban Change and its Management, London: Hodder and Stoughton

▪ Flint, C and D. (2001) Urbanisation: Changing Environment, London: HarperCollins Publishers

▪ Waugh, D. (2003) The New Wider World, Second Edition: Nelson Thornes

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