The name given mainly to Brazilian shantytowns where part of the population lives in conditions of precariousness, insalubrity and violence, particularly because of trafficking (including drugs or weapons) or prostitution. Representative of the urban development of certain cities, including Rio de Janeiro, the favelas are also associated with forms of popular culture which they have largely accompanied or even encouraged (music, dance, etc.).


Appellation donnée principalement aux bidonvilles brésiliens regroupant une partie de la population dans des conditions mêlant diversement précarité, insalubrité, violence, en particulier en raison des trafics (dont celui de la drogue ou des armes) ou de la prostitution. Représentatifs du développement urbain de certaines cités, dont Rio de Janeiro, les favelas sont aussi associées à des formes de cultures populaires dont elles ont amplement accompagné voire suscité l’essor (musique, danse…).

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Favela – Etymology

The Brazilian term 'favela' is said to come from a plant referring to the Morro da Favela (hill) in the State of Bahia, where the soldiers would have stayed during the Canudos War (1896-1897) and whose name they would have kept when they returned to Rio de Janeiro, on the Morro da Providência. The first favela thus appeared in Rio de Janeiro in 1897.

Le terme brésilien « favela » viendrait d’une plante référant au Morro (colline) da Favela de l'État de Bahia sur lequel les soldats auraient séjourné durant la guerre de Canudos (1896-1897) et dont ils auraient conservé le nom en retournant à Rio de Janeiro, sur le Morro da Providência. La première favela serait ainsi apparue à Rio de Janeiro en 1897.

Favela in figures

"In Brazil, 6% of the country's population lives in favelas. There are 6,329 favelas in 323 municipalities according to data from IBGE (the Brazilian Institution of Geography and Statistics).
Percentage of certain populations living in favelas :
- Belém (PA) with 54.48%.
- Salvador (de Bahia) with 33.07%.
- Rio de Janeiro with 22.16%.
The states with the highest number of favelas are:
- Sao Paulo with 2087
- Rio de Janeiro with 1332
- Bahia with 280."
(from: lebresilien.com/2017)

« Au Brésil, 6% de la population du pays habitent dans une favela. On dénombre 6329 favelas dans 323 communes selon les données de l'IBGE (l'Institution Brésilien de Géographie et Statistiques).
Pourcentage de certaines populations vivant dans les favelas :
• Belém (PA) avec 54,48%
• Salvador avec 33,07%
• Rio de Janeiro avec 22,16%
Les Etats avec le plus grand nombre de favelas sont :
• Sao Paulo avec 2087
• Rio de Janeiro avec 1332
• Bahia with 280."
(source : lebresilien.com/2017)

In Brazil, coronavirus crisis fuels new favela

"When Priscila Tomas da Silva's husband lost his job loading trucks because of coronavirus shutdown measures in Sao Paulo, they faced a stark choice: pay the rent, or feed their six children. So they built a shack in a new favela emerging on the city's northern outskirts, a symbol of the devastation the pandemic is causing in Brazil.The favela, in the Jardim Julieta neighborhood, has sprouted at an informal parking lot for semi-trucks.
(…) In fact, epidemics and plagues have been forcing Brazil's poor into favelas and other informal settlements throughout history, said Lino Teixeira, coordinator for urban policy at the Favela Observatory, a research and advocacy group. “The creation of favelas, going back to some of the very first ones, is linked to a series of urban epidemics, from yellow fever to the Spanish flu to smallpox to measles” he said.” (AFP - 31/07/2020)

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