According to official estimates the Rio de Janeiro 2017 population is 6,498,837. This makes Rio, host city of the 2016 Olympic Games, the second largest city in Brazil.

Rio is also the third largest city in South America, the sixth largest city in the Americas and the 41st largest city in the world.

The wider Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan area is home to 12,280,702 people (2015 data).

Rio de Janeiro is the second largest Portuguese speaking city in the world, after São Paulo. (Lisbon, the largest city in Portugal, is only the ninth largest Portuguese speaking city in the world).

Rio de Janeiro State population

The city of Rio de Janeiro is a part of the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro state is the third most populous state in Brazil, after São Paulo state and Minas Gerais. In 2014 it’s estimated population was 16,461,173 people.

Rio de Janeiro population growth

Rio de Janeiro was founded in 1565 by Portuguese settlers. (A French colony which had been founded in the area in 1555 was destroyed by Portuguese troops in 1560).

In its early years, the population of Rio de Janeiro grew slowly. By 1749, almost two centuries after it had been founded, Rio’s population had grown to just 24,000 people.

However increased immigration from Europe in the 18th and 19th century boosted the city’s population dramatically. Rio was so important to Portugal and so secure that when Napoleon invaded Portugal in 1807, the Portuguese royal family moved to Rio and set up their new capital in the city.

By 1821, just before the Brazilian War of Independence, Rio was home to 113,000 people. The city continued to grow rapidly and by 1872 its population had grown to 274,972 people.

The city’s population hit the milestone of 1 million people early in the 20th century. Subsequent growth was so speedy that, by the end of the 20th century, Rio had grown to accommodate 5.8 million people.

Latest estimates from the IBGE show that the population reached 6,498,837 in 2016.

The table below shows the population of Rio de Janeiro city over the past century.

Population  Year
1749 24,000
1821 113,000
1872 274,972
1890 522,651
1900 811,443
1920 1,157,873
1940 1,764,141
1950 2,377,451
1960 3,281,908
1970 4,251,918
1980 5,090,700
1990 5,336,179
2000 5,851,914
2010 6,093,472

Rio de Janiero population density

Based on its population in 2007 of 6,093,472, Rio de Janeiro’s population density is 12,383 people per square mile.

Rio de Janiero ethnicity


In the Brazilian census, the government divides the population into five different racial and ethnic groups. These groups are White, Pardo (multiracial), Black, Asian and Amerindian.

At the time of the 2010 Brazilian census largest single ethnicity in Rio was White, with 51.2% of the population. Other major groups are Pardo (36.5%) and Black (11.5%). A further 0.7% of the population is Asian and 0.1% of the population is Amerindian.

Rio de Janiero religion

No religion13.59%

According to the 2010 census, Christians make up the largest religious group in Rio de Janeiro. In total 74.46% of the population reported that they were either Catholic or Protestant. Catholics made up 51.09% of the population, while Protestants made up a further 23.37%.

A further 5.90% of people reported that their religion was Spiritist, 1.29% reported that their religion was Umbanda or Candomblé, and 0.34% reported that they were Jewish.

A total of 13.59% of people reported that they were not religious.

Rio de Janeiro economy

Rio has, after São Paulo, one of the strongest economies in Brazil. In 2008 Rio de Janeiro’s GDP was reported to be $201 billion. This makes it the fourth largest city economy in Latin America, after Mexico City, São Paulo, Buenos Aires.

Although the city of Rio makes up only about one third of the population of the state of Rio de Janeiro, as of 2017 it generates three quarters of the state’s GDP.