Rio de Janeiro's City of God


Cidade de Deus, or City of God, located in the western part of Rio de Janeiro, is one of the city's poorest slums. It was created in the 1960s as an attempt by the government to move people out of favelas  and resettle them in the suburbs. The area became famous in the film City of God, which won four Oscars in 2002.

Over a decade later things have changed in Rio’s famous district.  Shortly before the Olympic Games 2016 are scheduled to begin, new police units are patrolling the area to control gang warfare and drug trafficking.

This district of Rio de Janeiro has become safer since 2009, when newly organized police peace units started patrolling the area. Specially trained policemen get more money if they work in the area. But getting the residents to trust them is a difficult task in a part of town where people are caught between gang warfare and the police.

Although housing has improved since the 1960s, many people still live in quickly set-up huts. Most of the slum’s 60 000 people still live in the original buildings of the 1960s. While Rio’s authorities are steadily trying to build new homes, they simply don’t have the money that is needed to combat all the area’s social problems. Not all parts of the slum have adequate electricity and sanitation. Rivers full of waste run through the streets. Human urine and dead animals can be smelled throughout the area.

However, residents of the City of God agree that the place has become safer. A new police station has been set up and murder rates have gone down. You can see more and more children playing in the street, something that would have been impossible ten years ago. Drugs, however, are still a big problem. While large-scale drug barons have left the area, small gangs have taken over the business.

Rio de Janeiro has over a thousand favelas with a population of millions. On one side the city’s economy is growing strongly, on the other side it remains one of the most dangerous places in the world.


Barack Obama visits Rio de Janeiro's City of God

American President Barack Obama visits Rio de Janeiro's City of God.


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  • adequate = enough
  • although = while
  • attempt = try
  • authorities = group of people in the government who have the power to make decisions
  • baron = boss
  • combat = fight against
  • create = make
  • decade = ten years
  • district = region
  • drug trafficking = buying and selling drugs
  • economy = the system by which goods and money are produced and used
  • favelas = poor areas of cities  in South America
  • gang warfare = when groups of young people commit crimes and fight against other groups
  • government = people who rule a country or a city
  • housing = the building of new homes
  • hut = very small house
  • improve = get better
  • large-scale = very important, big
  • located = to be found
  • murder rate = the number of people who are killed in a certain time
  • peace = when there is no war
  • quickly set-up = here: to build something overnight
  • remain = stay, is still
  • resettle = move a person to another place to live there
  • resident = person who lives in a place
  • sanitation = protecting people’s health by removing dirty water and waste
  • schedule = plan
  • slum = area of a city that is in very poor condition and where very poor people live
  • steadily = always, little by little
  • suburb = area of a city far away from the centre
  • task = job
  • throughout = in all of
  • trust = have hope, believe in a person
  • unit =group
  • urine = yellow liquid that comes out of the body
  • waste = unwanted material