Brazil at a Glance
Not only is Brazil the largest country on the continent, it’s also one of the largest in the world, both in population and land mass. This means there are lots of things to see. Most of the country is dominated by the Amazon rainforest, which accounts for well over half of the total land surface. Most of it remains unexplored to this day, with indigenous populations dotted throughout living as they did before European influence.
What Brazil is best known for, however, are the beaches. Especially those in Rio de Janeiro, which has developed a tropical romantic feel. The most famous beach bar none is Copacabana, located on the Bahia right next to the city center. Located in a tropical area, the beach is warm all year round, which is an excellent excuse to break out the sunblock and bikini. The (in)famous thong was popularized on Rio’s several beaches.
There is enough stuff in Rio to keep you busy for your entire vacation, especially if you arrive around the middle half of February for “Carnival”. This is practically a whole-week extravaganza with traditional dancing parades (featuring salsa, zamba and the lambada), 24-hour-parties and some of the least holds-barred activities on the planet. You can’t go to South America and not stop by the Carnival.
For those who are less into partying, there are a myriad of other activities available. The very north part of Brazil still counts as part of the Caribbean, with white sandy beaches and gorgeous palm trees to lounge under. Another very popular activity for visitors is to follow the Amazon down from its beginning in the Andes all the way to the Ocean.
Brazil is also a very popular vacation spot for people from the rest of the continent. While less known to Europeans and Americans, there are several local destinations such as Florianapolis, Buzios and Salvador. They aren’t as covered in Gringos as the other places, and you can get to know people from all over South America.
There are a lot of places to visit in Brazil, but the country hasn’t had its fair share of development. It’s usually quite safe to visit most of the more popular attractions, but in some places, such as the flavelas, it can be a bit dangerous to venture alone. It’s always good to keep an eye out while you are traveling in Brazil.
Oh, and if you are football/soccer fan, you probably already know Brazil is gearing up for the 2014 World Cup.