Smithsonian Magazine gives a rundown of the city's history as a tourist destination, and looks at some of the efforts the local and federal government are making to improve life for the city's poorest residents.
"The city looked much as it did a decade ago, but the future looked different. And with good reason. Last October, Rio was chosen to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, the first to be held in South America and, after Mexico City in 1968, only the second in Latin America. As if in one fell swoop, Cariocas recovered their self-esteem. Further, Lula's strong support for Rio's Olympic bid represented a vote of confidence from Brazil as a whole. And this commitment looks secure with either of the main candidates to succeed Lula in general elections on October 3-Dilma Rousseff, Lula's hand-picked nominee, and José Serra, the opposition challenger. Now, with federal and state governments pledging $11.6 billion in extra aid to prepare the city for the Olympics, Rio has a unique chance to repair itself.
'Barcelona is my inspiring muse,' Eduardo Paes, the city's energetic young mayor, told me in his downtown office, referring to how the Catalan capital used the 1992 Summer Olympics to modernize its urban structures."