Extending over half the continent, Brazil -- the largest country in South America -- has an exceptionally diverse landscape and culture. With almost 5,000 miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, the beaches are a primary tourist attraction. Brazil's natural wonders include the Amazon rain forest and the Panatal wetlands, which offer outdoor activities for adventure-seekers. For those who enjoy urban attractions, Brazil boasts world-class cosmopolitan cities such as Rio de Janeiro and charming colonial cities such as Salvador de Bahia.
One of Brazil's major attractions is its beaches, and with Brazil's entire eastern edge stretching along the Atlantic Ocean, you are never far from a beach. Copacabana Beach and Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro are famous for the crowds they attract during Rio's annual carnival celebration. Búzios, two hours from Rio, is a popular string of beaches located on a five-mile-long peninsula. The island of Ilhabela boasts 22 beaches along its western shore, and is popular with scuba divers who like to explore the shipwrecks off the coast. With its tropical white-sand beaches and turquoise-blue waters, the northeast coast of Brazil, known as the Gold Coast, is widely considered to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, particularly the beaches of Jericoacoará and Canoa Quebrada.
Nature and Adventure
Brazil offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, including kayaking, rafting, hiking, whale watching, snorkeling and surfing. Three of its most famous natural attractions are the Amazon rain forest, the Iguazu Falls and the Pantanal, each of which is an ecological paradise. The Pantanal is the largest flood plain on the planet, with a large concentration and diversity of wildlife. Due to the lack of roads, one of the best ways to explore the Panatal is on a horseback tour. The Amazon basin is the largest rain forest on Earth and the Amazon River is the largest river by water volume. The Amazon can be explored by taking a river cruise or by staying in a jungle lodge. Iguazu Falls, located on the border with Argentina, is the largest waterfall in the world, and one of the top tourist attractions in Brazil. The falls are higher than Niagra Falls and twice the width, with 275 cascades spread over nearly two miles of the Iguazu River.
Rio de Janeiro is a popular starting point for exploring Brazil. Flanked on one side by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the other side by the Serra do Mar mountain range, Rio offers beautiful landscapes. The city is known as the cultural capital of Brazil and is home to over 50 museums, including the Modern Art Museum and the National Museum of Fine Arts. The Theatro Municipal, with one of the largest stages in Latin America, is a popular venue for ballet, opera and classical music. The 100-foot statue of "Cristo Redentor" -- Christ the Redeemer -- overlooks the city from atop the peak of Corcovado mountain. In Rio, visitors enjoy shopping, fine-dining and its famous nightlife. Sao Paulo is Brazil's largest city and business capital best known for its nightlife, where you can see live performances in a variety of musical genres, including samba and bossa nova. Brasilia was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its architectural design -- it is one of the best examples of Modernist architecture in the world.
The Carnaval of Brazil is the country's most widely known cultural event, attracting around 500,000 foreign visitors every year. Carnaval is a four-day event held annually 40 days before Easter. Although Carnaval is celebrated throughout the country, Rio de Janeiro hosts the most famous Carnival and well-attended Carnival. The city of Salvador de Bahia offers visitors the opportunity to experience Brazilian culture in a colonial setting. Dating from 1549, it is one of the oldest settlements in the Western Hemisphere. The city has a mix of European, African and Amerindian cultures and is a national center for Brazilian art, music and culture.
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