Within these bays are beaches of white sand, called praias, such as the Praia da Icarahy, Praia das Flechas and Praia Grande, upon which face low tile-covered residences surrounded with gardens.
The city consists of a number of these partially separated districts - Praia Grande, Sao Domingos, Icarahy, Jurujuba, Santa Rosa, Sao Lourenco, Ponta d'Areia and Barreto - all together covering 8 or 9 m.
An electric street railway connects all the outlying districts with the ferry stations of Praia Grande and Sao Domingos.
The first settlement on the east side of the Bay of Rio de Janeiro dates from 1671, when a chapel was erected at Praia Grande, in the vicinity of an Indian village.
The settlement did not become a village until 1819, when it was named Villa Real da Praia Grande.