Located in the heart of Rio de Janeiro about one kilometer from the São Conrado beach, Rocinha is known to be the largest favela in Latin America with a population estimated at above 150.000 inhabitants. Rocinha means “little farm” and the area was originally the supplier of vegetables in a known fair in the center of the city. In the 60′s to 70′s Rocinha expanded rapidly due to heavy migration especially to northeastern Brazil, which was marked by droughts and unemployment.
Rocinha’s population then increased dramatically, and with very little intervention from the government the community started to take form. Rocinha then ran itself almost independently from the state until the year 2011 where the government took control of the community through a police operation by the “Pacifying Police Unit” (UPP in portugese). In relation to the World Cup 2014 it was decided by the government that all communities that were run autonomously would have to be controlled by the state, which is what Rocinha went through during 2011 and 2012.
Nowadays Rocinha has it’s own TV channel called TV Rocinha (TV ROC), a surf school, several banks, pharmacies, bus-lines, and it even has it’s own version of McDonalds, not to mention the various sushi-restaurants that are highly recommended. Rocinha is also known for having an extremely vibrant nightlife where the more courageous “cariocas” (brazilians from Rio) can take a break from the tourist-crowded center when bored of the westernised clubs in Copacabana. Nonetheless, a place where they can experience the diverse aspects of Brazilian culture come together in the melting pot of Rocinha.