Rio de Janeiro, despite being known for its culture, landscapes, and rich history, is no longer the capital of Brazil. The change in capital reflects the evolution of the Brazilian nation throughout its history.

Is Rio de Janeiro the capital of Brazil?

During the colonial era, Brazil was a colony of Portugal, with Salvador in Bahia as the first capital. Salvador played a central role in the colonization of the country. However, in the early 18th century, the Brazilian economy shifted with the gold mining in Minas Gerais, leading to the transfer of the capital to Rio de Janeiro in 1763, due to its significance as a strategic port.


Rio de Janeiro remained the capital of Brazil when the country became an empire in 1822, with Brazil’s independence from Portugal. Rio played a crucial role during the imperial period, hosting the Portuguese court when it sought refuge in Brazil during the Napoleonic Wars. The presence of the royal family in Rio de Janeiro helped solidify the city as the political center of Brazil.

The most significant change in the history of the Brazilian capital occurred in 1960 when Brasília was inaugurated as the new capital of the country. This change aimed to develop the interior of Brazil and reduce the concentration of power on the coast. President Juscelino Kubitschek led the construction of a modern and planned city in the heart of the country, designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer and urban planner Lúcio Costa.

Although Rio de Janeiro is no longer the capital of Brazil, it retains its significance as one of the most iconic and influential cities in the country. Known for its natural beauty, rich culture, and diverse economy, Rio remains a prominent international tourist destination. The shift of the capital to Brasília had strategic development reasons, but it doesn’t diminish Rio de Janeiro’s relevance in the national identity, as the city continues to play a fundamental role in Brazil’s politics, economy, and culture.

Brazilian History
Matheus Araújo
Founder and Editor at Brazilian History | Website

Matheus is an entrepreneur at Araujo Media, where he serves as CEO and Creative Director. He shares analyses on his personal blog "matheusaraujo.me" and is currently pursuing a degree in Advertising and Propaganda. Moreover, he has a passion for history, particularly that of Brazil, which led him to become the founder and editor of the Brazilian History portal.