According to people who live or have lived in Rocinha, the community’s first inhabitants arrived after World War II, from Portugal, France and Italy - countries whose economies were severely affected by the conflict. These pioneerAs a result, the population of Rio de Janeiro spiked from 1.4 million in 1930 to 2.5 million in 1950. Maintaining these growth rates throughout the 1950s and 60s, the cities of the Southeast, especially Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, experienced a virtual demographic explosion.
While Brazil went from rural to urban in the space of 30 years, poor infrastructure in the cities could not accommodate the influx of residents. Migrants soon discovered that to survive, they needed to live close to work. With no alternatives, they continued building homes along the hillsides, some of which later became low-income neighborhoods like Rocinha.
s came to live off the land. Selling their products in the nearby town of Gávea, they maintained small farms called “roças,” from which Rocinha got its name.
Miners and migrants from the Northeast began arriving in the mid-1950s, fostering population growth and building their homes on hills throughout Rio de Janeiro. Fleeing drought and famine, migrants were attracted by the industrialization of the South, and its enforcement of labor laws (at the time was virtually restricted to urban areas).