Rocinha was the largest favela in Brazil in 2014. According to an official census around 70,000 people lived in the favela at that time, but unofficial estimates were as high as 2- or 300,000.

In eight years - from 2003 until 2011 - 40 million of the 200 million citizens in Brazil joined the middle class, and many of them live in favelas like Rocinha. In a way the development of Rocinha is exemplary of the change that Brazil went through. When Rocinha was founded it consisted of simple shacks built on a steep hill prone to mudslides. Now the neighborhood consists of brick and concrete houses that are sometimes three or four stories high, most of them with basic sanitation, plumbing and electricity. In reality, Rocinha is now classified as a “barrio” (neighborhood), and is no longer technically speaking a favela.