Brazil Beyond Compare
Brazil is an exercise in superlatives: fifth-largest country in the world, occupying nearly half of the continent of South America; home of Carnaval, the world's biggest street party; winner of the most World Cup soccer championships; home of the world's largest rainforest; and home of the Amazon, the world's largest river in both volume and length. It even has the biggest cashew tree on the face of the planet, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. The country started with a healthy intermingling of African, Portuguese, and indigenous peoples and cultures, later adding other European immigrants such as the Italians in the south and the Dutch in the north, all of which give Brazil an impressive diversity of cultural life, music, and arts, not to mention culinary traditions and religious practices. São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, is a thrilling urban center, drawing national and international commerce and tourism. Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, was designed in the shape of an airplane by the architects Oscar Niemeyer, Lúcio Costa, and Israel Pinheiro. Brazil considers itself the country of the future, but Brazilians joke that that future never seems to arrive. Distressingly, Brazil's excess extends to the misery as well, with Brazil ranking high in income inequality. From the lush Atlantic rainforests to the semi-arid sertão to the Pantanal wetlands teeming with animal life, Brazil also boasts an uncanny diversity of geographic climes. National transportation by bus is excellent; plane travel is generally more expensive.