- 6 million people live in Rio, and about 2 million foreign tourists visit the city each year. source
- Rio does have a problem with crime, and violent crime. In 1998, there were 52.8 murders per 100,000 people in the metropolitan area of Rio, though in this same period Sao Paulo, San Salvador (El Salvador), Medellin, Bogota and Cali (Colombia), Guatemala City (Guatemala), and Caracas (Venezuela) had significantly higher murder rates. source
- Rio has a problem with robbery, and has a high rate of armed robbery, petty theft, and car jackings.
- Tourists are sometimes mugged, even in touristy areas. But so are Cariocas (the people of Rio). Robbery can happen to anyone.
- Rio de Janeiro is a big city, much like any other in other parts of the world. New Yorkers will remember the high rate of robbery and muggings in the 1980s and how people were "afraid" to visit. That is now happening to Rio. But if you travel to any city in the world, even in developing countries, you run the risk of getting robbed, especially in places with lots of tourism like Spain and Italy.
- Police corruption and violence is a major problem in Rio. But that doesn't mean the police aren't there to protect and help civilians.
- The drug trade fuels violence and violent crime in Rio. Drugs = money = powerful guns. Therefore, buying or doing drugs in Rio helps contribute to thousands of lives lost each year due to drug-related and funded violence. Marijuana, and even cocaine, may not seem like a big deal to foreigners, but here, any participation in the drug trade helps fund the violence that tourists fear so much. If you are interested in doing drugs, stay home.
- Rio is a big war zone and it's not a safe place to visit and you can't even walk around the streets. The majority of the violent crime that takes place in Rio happens in the favelas (slums), mostly due to shoot-outs between drug traffickers and police. Though this sometimes may spill over into other parts of the city, this happens in the suburbs and in the poor areas were tourists do not go. The touristy parts of the city, namely Zona Sul (Ipanema, Copacabana, Botafogo) and Centro (Centro, Lapa, Santa Teresa), rarely see this kind of violence.
- You WILL get mugged if you travel to Rio. Though you run the risk of getting robbed, getting mugged is NOT an inevitability. Using caution and good sense can many times help you avoid this happening. For example, flashing expensive cameras, jewelry, and clothing in touristy areas can make you a target, and walking around at night alone or with few people is not a good idea. You run a risk of getting mugged in all Latin American cities, and most big cities for that matter.
- Armed criminals roam the streets with advanced weaponry. Though armed robbery does happen, drug traffickers stay in the favelas to protect their territory, which is where the really big guns are found.
- I saw City of God and that's how I picture Rio. City of God is based on real facts, but it is also based in a favela. There are tours of favelas for you to see how people live, but you never have to pass through one if you chose not to. City of God is NOT the Rio you will see as a tourist.
- Traveling to Rio is too big a risk to make a trip worthwhile. Rio, according to many, is one of the most naturally beautiful cities in the world. There are countless sights to see, beaches to explore, cultural events to attend, and people to meet. You run the risk of getting mugged or encountering violence in most cities all over the world, especially in the developing world. If you're too afraid to face reality, stay at home and watch TV.
- I am risking my life by traveling to Rio. Though there are a few cases of tourists getting killed in Rio, the chances are very low. The problem is often when people try to resist a robbery, and if you don't do this, you should be just fine. Your life is more important than money or a camera. Robbers are looking to get your money, not to end your life. You risk your life traveling to many places in Africa, to Israel, to parts of South Asia, and even to some developed countries. Here, your greatest risk is losing some money.