Rio De Janeiro’s Most Dangerous Favelas

The Brazilian favelas are considered to be the areas with affordable housing.

Rio de Janeiro is known for its favelas, which are informal settlements or shantytowns that are often found on the hillsides surrounding the city. These favelas are home to a significant portion of Rio’s population, with estimates ranging from 20% to 25% of the city’s residents.

Historically, these are the neighborhoods where low-income citizens were cast aside by the government, but in recent years new favelas started appearing, and many people living there chose to reinforce and modernize their homes instead of relocating, even if they could afford to do so if they chose.

The portrayal of favelas in popular media and movies has sometimes perpetuated stereotypes and stigmatization, overshadowing the diverse and complex realities of these communities. Efforts have been made to challenge these stereotypes and promote a more nuanced understanding of favelas, highlighting their cultural richness and the resilience of their residents.

It’s worth mentioning that while the above information reflects the general characteristics of favelas in Rio de Janeiro, each favela is unique, and conditions can vary widely from one community to another.

Are favelas safe for tourists?

While some favelas have seen improvements in security and infrastructure, others may still face challenges related to crime and safety. It is recommended to visit the favelas only with a local guide who knows the people around and this way he can protect you and keep you safe.

How many Brazilians are living in favelas in Rio de Janeiro?

Around 25% of the population of Rio de Janeiro live in the favelas, they work here and take pride in their community.

How many favelas are in Rio de Janeiro?

Estimates vary, but it is believed that there are between 600 and 1,000 favelas in the city.

Which is the most dangerous Rio’s favela?

Street in Rios favelas

Even though is not officially recognized as a neighborhood, the Vila Aliança in Rio is probably the most dangerous one. One of the centers of the notorious drug trading business of Brazil, the region is guarded by children with rifles, and tourists almost never venture here. These underage soldiers often want to leave the drug trade, as many of them die before they reach the age of 21.

Even though the government started programs to reeducate the youth and help them aim for a better life, the years of neglect have done enough damage to make it almost impossible. Grenades, guns, and poverty are the elements that characterize this region.

How old is the Vila Cruzeiro favela?

Favela neighborhood Rio de Janeiro

This favela in Rio de Janeiro has been around for about 50 years and even though it’s on the path to changing the way it’s perceived, the violence here still puts it high up on the list of the most dangerous favelas in Rio. At the beginning of 2020, the police seized over 450 lbs of drugs. Gunshots, burning cars, and police helicopters were part of the dreadful scene. In November the favela was shaken again by the confrontations between the military and the drug cartel, leaving a few people dead or wounded. Tourists are advised to avoid this area at all costs.

Even if the favela is a center of drug activity, some organizations have tried to bring a ray of sunshine here. Art is a big deal for the youth of Vila Cruzeiro, which can be seen in the beautiful and unique street art on walls and houses, encouraged by the associations helping them.

Complexo do Alemão

Rios houses in the favelas

This is a complex of multiple favelas which has been in the attention of the police for many years. There have been dozens of deaths on both sides. Gangs and drug dealers control the favelas in the complex, and a few times the military was forced to intervene with tanks and military equipment. Thousands of pounds of drugs have been seized here in recent years and the police are strongly advising visitors to avoid this region.

Other favelas that should be avoided because of shootings

  • Cidade de Deus
  • Jacarezinho
  • Vila Kennedy

Which is the largest favela in Rio?

The largest favela in Rio de Janeiro is called Rocinha. Located in the southern part of the city, between the districts of São Conrado and Gávea, Rocinha is estimated to be home to a population of around 70,000 to 100,000 people, although precise figures are challenging to obtain due to the informal nature of the settlement.

Final thoughts

All these pose a threat to visitors, first, because people here don’t trust outsiders. Anyone could be suspected of working for the police. Second, visitors could end up trapped in gunfights. There have been cases of tourists who lost their lives by venturing into a favela with a bad reputation.

Tip: If you’re planning to visit Rio de Janeiro make an itinerary with the places you want to visit, and if you do want to visit the safe favelas, it’s best to do it with a guide or join a tour. 

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