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Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil) is the largest country in South America. Famous for its football (soccer) tradition and its annual carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Recife and Olinda. It is a country of great diversity, from the bustling urban mosaic of S?o Paulo to the infinite cultural energy of Pernambuco and Bahia, the untouched wilderness of the Amazon rainforest and world-class landmarks such as the Igua?u Falls, there is plenty to see and to do in Brazil.

Brazil has many exciting cities, ranging from pretty colonial towns and coastal hideouts to hectic, lively metropolises; these are a few of the more prominent travel destinations:

  • Bras?lia - The capital of Brazil, and an architectural spectacle. Noteworthy buildings include a basket-shaped Cathedral, the beautiful Arches Palace (seat of the Ministry of Justice) and others.
  • Bel?m - The second largest city in the Amazon region. Religious festivals (Cirio de Nazare), traditional market (Ver-o-Peso).
  • Curitiba - The capital of the state of Paran? is known for its innovative urban solutions, it still keeps its traditional spirit and features of the european immigrants, mostly from Italy, Germany and slavic countries.
  • Florian?polis - The major city in Brazil located in an island in the Atlantic Ocean, with lakes, lagoons, amazing nature and more than 40 clean, beautiful and full of nature beaches.
  • Fortaleza -- A good base for exploring the beaches of the northeastern coast, including Jericoacoara.Also,off the tourist track,for the adventurous,the interior 'bairros'(neighborhoods)offer unparalleled views and experiences of richness,poverty,intimacy, and sometimes danger.
  • Recife - A major city in the Northeast region, originally settled by Dutch colonizers. Nicknamed "The Brazilian Venice", it is built on several islands linked by many bridges. Rich in history, art and folklore. Do not miss neighboring Olinda and Porto de Galinhas. The city is also a gateway to the amazing archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.
    Rio de Janeiro - World famous, beautiful city that welcomes visitors with that big statue of an open-armed Jesus atop Corcovado Hill.
    Salvador - The first capital of Brazil is home to a unique blend of indigenous, African and European cultures. Its Carnival fun is famous, and the influence of African culture and religion is remarkable.
  • S?o Paulo - Brazil's largest, richest and most cosmopolitan city, where you can find traces of most major cultures of Earth, including Italian, Japanese, German, Russian, Jamaican, Greek and Arab.

History and Economy
Until 1500, Brazil was inhabited solely by indigenous people, mainly of the Tupi and Guarani ethnic groups. Actual settling by the Portuguese began later that century, with the extraction of valuable pau-brasil wood, from which the country draws its name. The following four centuries saw further exploitation of the country's natural riches (gold and rubber) besides the rise of an economy based on agriculture (sugar and coffee) and slave labor, millions of Africans taken to the new world in a forced diaspora. Meanwhile, extermination or Christianizing of natives kept its pace, and the 19th century saw a second wave of European (mainly Italian and German) immigration, adding to this unique and complex set of factors that generated today's equally complex and unique Brazilian culture and society.

Following three centuries under the rule of Portugal, Brazil became an independent nation in 7 September, 1822. By far the largest and most populous country in South America, it has also overcome more than two decades (1964-1988) of military intervention in the governance of the country to pursue a democratic ruling, while facing the challenge of keeping its industrial and agricultural growth and developing its interior. Exploiting vast natural resources and a large labor pool, today Brazil is South America's leading economic power and a regional leader. Highly unequal income distribution remains a pressing problem. A consequence of this is a high crime rate, specifically in large cities.

After 20 years of democracy, the country has grown strong, and despite the social problems of the unequal income distribution, the people have remained happy and festive.

Owing to Brazil’s continental dimensions, varied geography, history and people, the country’s culture is rich and diverse. It has several regional variations, and in spite of being mostly unified by a single language, some regions are so different from each other that they could have become different countries altogether.

Music plays an important part in Brazilian identity. Styles like choro, samba and bossa nova are considered genuinely Brazilian. Caipira music is also in the roots of sertanejo (the national equivalent to country music). MPB stands for Brazilian Popular Music, which mixes several national styles under a single concept. Forr?, a north-eastern happy dancing music style, has also become common nationwide. New urban styles include funk - name given to a dance music genre from Rio's favelas that mixes heavy electronic beats and often raunchy rapping - and techno-brega, a crowd-pleaser in northern states, that fuses romantic pop, dance music and caribbean rhythms.

A mixture of martial arts, dance, music and game, capoeira was brought to Brazil by African slaves. Distinguished by vivacious complicated movements and accompanying music, it can be seen and practiced in many Brazilian cities.

Candomble and Umbanda are religions with African roots that have survived prejudice and persecution and still have a significant following in Brazil. Their places of cult are called terreiros and many are open for visitation.

Indigenous traits can be found everywhere in Brazilian culture, from cuisine to vocabulary. There are still many indigenous groups and tribes living in all Brazilian regions, although many have been deeply influenced by "western" culture, and several of the country's surviving indigenous languages are in danger of disappearing completely. The traditional lifestyle and graphic expressions of the Waj?pi indigenous group from the state of Amap? were proclaimed a Masterpiece of the World's Intangible Heritage [1] by UNESCO.

Globo, the largest national television network, also plays an important role in shaping the national identity. Nine out of ten households have a TV set, which is the most important source of information and entertainment for most Brazilians followed by the radio broadcast. TVs broadcast sports, movies, local and national news and telenovelas (Soap Operas)– 6-month-long series that have become one of the country’s main cultural exports

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