Why was Rio de Janeiro chosen to be the capital of Brazil?
One of the most asked questions on our free walking tours is: why was Rio de Janeiro chosen to be the capital of Brazil? The second capital of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, was established in the year of 1763.
But which was the first Brazilian capital? Salvador, in Bahia. It was the capital of Brazil since the discovery until the change to Rio de Janeiro. It’s important to understand that the Portuguese had huge economic interests in Brazil. They explored our natural resources and made profits with its commerce in Europe.
Therefore, the capital of the country was strategically chosen to control the economic activities realized here. At the begging of Brazilian colonization, the main economic activity was the sugar cane, especially in the Northeast of Brazil. It made perfect sense to the control of the Portuguese Crown to keep an administrative unit close to all this production.
However, the situation changed with the discovery of gold in the state of Minas Gerais. With the news of the gold, many actions were taken to guarantee that Portugal profit as fast as possible with the gold production. Between them, the change of the capital to Rio de Janeiro! Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil until 1960, when Brasilia was built.