what is a ‘favela’? Click here to see full size photo

Posted on 5 July 2008

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Being a part of Brazil, or Rio de Janeiro…..

‘Favela’ is the term people here call slum originated illegal houses built on vacant lands, which normally on hills of Brazillian city (since hills are normally vacant, due to it is harder for commercial development at hills). There’s lots of interesting details here at wikipedia, but in short, favela is well known as a ‘NO GO” zone for tourists. Well, most Brazillians I know advises against going to favela. I have never been to one, and heard most of them are controlled by gangs, and there are drug lords, guns, just like what you see on the movie “City of God”. Till now my best favela experience is through “City of God”, so nothing much I can say.

There are lots of favela in here in Rio (some say hundreds), and they are everywhere, and quite visible.

Sometimes some taxi drivers seems more cautious, and drive faster, when driving through road that has large favelas, scared of possibility of stray bullets from gun fights, or assault.

I’ve read once in newspaper 2 years back, unfortunate passerby were killed by stray bullets, when they drove through a road, as 2 rival gang were shooting at each others, apparently fighting for control of a favela.

The biggest favela is Rochina. Someone said there are 60,000 people there It basically covers the whole hillside, and you can see the sheer size of it when you are travelling back from Barra da Tijuca, or Pepino Beach back to Leblon.

Nevertheless, for those with more curiosity, there are tours to favela that allows you to have a peek of how life is in there. Just google up “favela tour rocinha”. Do feedback how’s the tour!


Actual photo size is 3264px × 2176px, so you can actually see shirt hanging on the drying clothline! :).

Further, there’s an interesting photo essay on life at favela at Washington Post.

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Posted in: brazil, work