Volta Redonda is the name of a municipality in the Rio de Janeiro state of Brazil with an area of 182.81 km², located from 350m to 707m above the sea level (22º31'23" S, 44º06'15" W) and with a population of 259,811 inhabitants (estimated in 2009). The area around the city has nearly 700,000 km². Its name (which is Portuguese for Round Turn) is due to the round shape of a curve in the Paraíba do Sul river around which the city was built.
Situated in Volta Redonda is Companhia Siderurgica Nacional (CSN), Brazil's second largest steel producer. Today its economy, despite still being based on industry, is quite diverse, and largely focused on the areas of services and trade. Due to this, Volta Redonda is worldly known as Cidade do Aço (which is Portuguese for Steel City).
The city borders with the municipalities of Barra Mansa (north, northwest, west and southwest), Barra do Piraí (northeast), Pinheiral, Piraí (south and east), and Rio Claro (south) and is 130 km from the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Along with the municipalities of Barra Mansa and Pinheiral, it is a conurbation of over 500,000 inhabitants, according to the IBGE estimates for 2008, and the state's largest urban spot outside the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro.
Economical center of the South Fluminense region, Volta Redonda is a strategic area, close to major hub cities in other regional states, such as Juiz de Fora (190 kilometers) and Sao Jose dos Campos (220 kilometers).
In 1744, the first explorers named the curious curve of the Paraíba do Sul river "Volta Redonda". Big farms were installed in the region and nowadays some farm names are the names of some districts.
Between the years of 1860 and 1870, the navigation through the Paraíba do Sul river had its golden period between the cities of Resende and Barra do Piraí and at the same time the railroad D. Pedro II was built in Barra do Piraí and Barra Mansa.
With this, in 1875, the village of Santo Antonio de Volta Redonda started to have great impulse, but with the freedom of slaves in 1888, the decay of the Vale do Paraíba became visible, destroying the agriculture, which would never recover in a very satisfactory way.
This situation would be reversed in 1941, when the cycle of industrialization of Volta Redonda began. Chosen as site for installing the Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN) steel mill in the middle of World War II, it marked the base of Brazilian industrialization. Laborers from diverse regions of the country came to Volta Redonda to work in the mill. When it opened in 1946, it was the first steel mill in South America.
A heavily subsidized symbol of national pride, the Volta Redonda mill embodied the import substitution industrial policies that prevailed in Latin American economies from World War II until the Latin American debt crisis in the 1980s. Since its 1993 privatization, however, the mill — now known as the Presidente Vargas Steelworks — has transcended its dirigiste origins to become one of the world's most efficient steel production facilities - due to this large production of steel and minerals, the city is globally nicknamed "Cidade do Aço" (literal Portuguese for "City of Steel").