By Karen Shishiptorova, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – Within Rio's vast urban sprawl of nearly half a million square miles, from beaches to mountains, favelas to highrises, a little over six million people live and work. The city is split into four zones, with Zona Norte (North Zone) the largest, and ironically perhaps the least known and explored by the Gringo community. The area is subdivided into five boroughs: Tijuca, Ilha, Leopoldina, Central and Irajá, consolidating approximately 95 neighborhoods.

Zona Norte is dotted by contrasts: The strictly commercial, the quiet and green residential areas where neighbors fraternize on sidewalk . . .

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