Governador Island, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Governador Island, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Governador Island (Ilha do Governador, in Portuguese) is the largest island in Guanabara Bay, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It has a population of about 450,000 inhabitants, in a small area of 42 km² (16 square miles). Rio de Janeiro’s main airport, Galeão – Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport, is located on Governador Island and occupies about a third of it, in the western and northwestern parts.

A small sea inlet that once existed on the northwestern shore was landfilled to build the airport’s runway 10/28, thereby increasing the island’s area a little bit. Often mentioned by cariocas (inhabitants of Rio city) simply as Ilha (“island”), Governador Island has lots of favelas, such as Morro do Dendê, the largest one, but it also has many middle-class and even a few more affluent neighbourhoods.

The island is connected to Fundão Island and to the mainland by a complex of expressway bridges. The name means “Governor’s Island,” because one of the first colonial governors of Brazil built a country house there in the 16th century. The native name for the island in Old Tupi was Paranapuã, which means “sea branch.” People from Governador Island suffer from the high pollution of Guanabara Bay.

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