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BRAZIL INFOSource: CIA World FactbookFull country name: República Federativa do BrasilPopulation: 203,429,773 (July 2011 est.)Language: PortugueseCapital City: BrasíliaMajor Cities: São Paulo 19.96 million; Rio de Janeiro 11.836 million; Belo Horizonte 5.152 million; Porto Alegre 4.034 million; Brasília (capital) 3.789 million (2010)Government: federative republicHead of State: President Dilma Rouseff (2010)Population: white 53.7%, mulatto (mixed white and black) 38.5%, black 6.2%, other (includes Japanese, Arab, Amerindian) 0.9%, unspecified 0.7% (2000 census)Religions: Roman Catholic (nominal) 73.6%, Protestant 15.4%, Spiritualist 1.3%, Bantu/voodoo 0.3%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.2%, none 7.4% (2000 census)Area: 8.51 million sq km (3,287,612.4 sq miles)
Brazil holds a FIFA world record of 5 Soccer World Cup titles and hosted the 2014 World Cup.
From Lonely Planet:One of the world’s most captivating places, Brazil is South America’s giant, a dazzling country of powdery white-sand beaches, pristine rain forests and wild, rhythm-filled metropolises. Brazil’s attractions extend from enchanting, frozen-in-time colonial towns to dramatic landscapes of red-rock canyons, thundering waterfalls and idyllic tropical islands. Add to that, Brazil’s biodiversity: legendary in scope, its diverse ecosystems boast the greatest collection of plant and animal species found anywhere on earth.
Brazil offers big adventures for travelers with budgets large and small. There’s horseback riding in the Pantanal, kayaking flooded forests in the Amazon, ascending rocky cliff tops to breathtaking views, whale-watching off the coast, surfing stellar breaks off palm-fringed beaches and snorkeling crystal-clear rivers or coastal reefs – all part of the great Brazilian experience.
No less entrancing is the prospect of doing nothing, aside from sinking into warm sands and soaking up a glorious stretch of beach.
Brazil’s most famous celebration, Carnaval, storms though the country’s cities and towns with hip-shaking samba and frevo, dazzling costumes and carefree joie de vivre, but Brazilians hardly regulate their passion for revelry to a few weeks of the year. Wherever there’s music, that carefree lust for life tends to appear – whether dancing with Cariocas at Rio’s atmospheric samba clubs or following powerful drumbeats through the streets of Salvador. There’s the dancehall forró of the Northeast, twirling carimbó of the Amazon, scratch-skilled DJs of São Paulo and an endless variety of regional sounds that extends from the back-country sertanejo to reggae-loving Maranhão.
With so much going for them, it’s no wonder that Brazilians say ‘Deus e Brasileiro’ (God is Brazilian). How else to explain the treasure chest of natural and cultural riches sprinkled all across the country?
BELO HORIZONTE INFOEnglish translation: Beautiful HorizonState: Minas GeraisState Capital: Belo Horizonte Metropolitan Population (2010): 5.152 million3rd largest metropolitan area in Brazil (2010)
From Yahoo! Travel (no longer online):It’s a spectacular sight: Belo Horizonte sprawls in an enormous bowl surrounded by hills, a sea of skyscrapers, favelas and industrial suburbs. From the centre, the jagged rust-coloured skyline of the Serra do Espinhaço, which gave the city its name, is always visible on the horizon – still being transformed by the mines gnawing away.
Despite its size and importance, Belo Horizonte is little more than a century old, laid out in the early 1890s on the site of the poor village of Curral del Rey – of which nothing remains – and shaped by the new ideas of “progress” that emerged with the new Republic.
Belo Horizonte was the first of Brazil’s planned cities and is arguably the most successful. As late as 1945 it had only 100,000 inhabitants; now it has well over twenty times that number, an explosive rate of growth even by Latin American standards. It rapidly became the most important pole of economic development in the country, after São Paulo, and while it may not be as historic as the rest of the state it’s difficult not to be impressed by the city’s scale and energy. Moreover, Belo Horizonte’s central location and proximity to some of the most important historical cities (Sabará is just outside the city, Ouro Preto and Mariana only two hours away by road) make it a good base for exploring Minas Gerais.”
For more on Belo Horizonte: Lonely Planet and Wikipedia