Rio de Janeiro is a state located in the south east region of Brazil with its motto being: "conduct the affairs of the public with righteousness." It occupies a total area of 43,653 km² and its capital is a city of the same name. Excluding its shore of the Atlantic Ocean, Rio de Janeiro borders the states of Minas Gerais to the north and north west, Espirito Santo to the north east and São Paulo to the South West.
The state's most prominent regions are Rio de Janeiro City, Nova Iguaçu, Niterói, Duque de Caxias, São Gonçalo, São João de Meriti, Campos dos Goytacazes, Petrópolis and Volta Redonda. The principal rivers of the state are the Guandu River, the Piraí, the Paraíba do Sul, the Macaé and the Muriaé. It remains the number one tourist destination and contains some of the most valuable real estate and land in Latin America (particularly in Rio de Janeiro city).
Established in 1565, the states development commenced in the 17th century with the export of sugar cane, cattle and gold to surrounding areas (mainly São Paulo and Minas Gerais). In 1763, the state became the headquarters of colonial Brazil which was shortly followed by the first bank of the country (Banco de Brasil which, today, is owned by the government), the basis of a media industry, educational establishments, transportation routes and several other infrastructural developments. In 1834, the city was named the capital until this was changed to Brasília in 1960 (which was chosen due to its more central location in the country).
Today over 50 percent of the states economy lies in industry, closely followed by tertiary services and agriculture. Much international attention has come to the region when the discovery of the Tupi (2006) and Jupiter (2008) oil fields were formally announced - with more findings being expected. As a result, Rio de Janeiro state is now the largest producer of petroleum and gas in Brazil (neighbouring state Espírito Santo also has significant reserves). The production of oil in Rio de Janeiro state has meant that the country has advanced up the global league table in terms of production, having grown 95 percent in the last 10 years (compared with the world average production increasing by 22 percent). The local economy also continues to benefit from taxation offsets and production royalties as well as the arrival of domestic and international corporations attracted to the increased wealth opportunities that oil brings. As well as petroleum, primary exports include other fuels (such as ethanol) as well as chemicals, textiles, metals (mainly steel, iron and tin), glass, processed fish, glass, dairy products, coffee, cachaça (Brazilian rum), livestock, cement and vehicles.
The state is made up of numerous municipal regions, each with a varied history from the times of indigenous occupation, through colonisation and the present day. Overflowing with history, architecture and culture, the state offers very attractive features to both the tourist and investor. There are many universities throughout the state, with hundreds of campuses in the various municipalities, offering courses in everything from agricultural studies to computer science and high technology.
As with most regions in the world with such vast areas and many cities, Rio de Janeiro state has a diverse population and standards of living depending on the area or municipality. The larger and more prosperous cities (such as Rio de Janeiro) attract citizens from all over the state and country, many seeking well-paid employment or a better life than in their rural towns and villages, but not holding the relevant experience or qualifications. Because of this, favelas (slums) have formed especially in the city of Rio de Janeiro which, while decreasing as the wealth of the country ameliorates, should be carefully observed when investing in land and real estate.
Despite this, the state continues to be a beautiful and vibrant region of Brazil - particularly its beautiful coast, many lagoons and vast conservation areas. One of the most exciting and looked-forward-to events of the year is the Rio de Janeiro carnival (celebrated throughout the municipalities) which is world famous for being the greatest, most colourful and ear-pleasing festival in the world. The metropolitan areas have also become increasingly appealing for the real estate and land investor - offering all the excitement and infrastructure expected, but with many sights of natural beauty.