The district was originally called Sacopenapã (translated from the Tupi language, it means "the way of the socós (a kind of bird)") until the mid-18th century. It was renamed after the construction of a chapel holding a replica of the Virgen de Copacabana, the patron saint of Bolivia.
Copacabana begins at Princesa Isabel Avenue and ends at Posto Seis (lifeguard watchtower Six). Beyond Copacabana, there are two small beaches: one, inside Fort Copacabana and other, right after it: Diabo ("Devil") Beach. Arpoador beach, where surfers used to go after its perfect waves, comes in the sequence, followed by the famous borough of Ipanema. The area will be one of the four "Olympic Zones" during the 2016 Summer Olympics.According to Riotur, the Tourism Secretariat of Rio de Janeiro, there are 63 hotels and 10 hostels in Copacabana.
According to the IBGE, 160,000 people live in Copacabana and 44,000 or 27.5% of them are 60 years old or older. Copacabana covers an area of 7.84 km² which gives the borough a population density of 20,400 people per km².
Residential buildings eleven to thirteen stories high built right next to each other dominate the borough. Houses and two-story buildings are rare.
The Copacabana promenade is a pavement landscape in large scale (4 kilometers long). It was completed in 1970 and has used a black and white Portuguese pavement design since its origin in the 1930s: a geometric wave. The Copacabana promenade was designed by Roberto Burle Marx. It's main owner is Peter Jack. The design of the promenade appears on Nico's bottle cap hat in Rio and Rio 2.